Now for another stand-out meal highlight of our trip. On December 9, my hubby and I joined some Internet friends for dinner, at the new restaurant in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot - La Hacienda de San Angel.
We had a wonderful time getting reacquainted with a couple of friends we had met on previous trips, and a few more that we were meeting in person for the first time. Everyone was so nice - we couldn't have asked for better company (and this is saying a LOT coming from someone as bashful as me).
I was, honestly, a bit worried about this dinner. Even though I knew I should contact a chef before the meal, I didn't do that. The only "pre-meal" work I did was to e-mail Disney Special Diets and ask them if the beans and tortillas were vegan. (They were, and the contact from the restaurant assured me that if I asked for a chef, I'd be taken care of.) I figured that as long as they had beans and tortillas, I wouldn't starve - but of course there's a big difference between not starving, and having a nice dining experience. My biggest concern this evening, though, was more of a bashful thing. I didn't want to make a big production in front of these new friends. Silly, I know. They probably would have enjoyed a big production, LOL.
As we were being seated, I found the opportunity to quietly tell our server that I had allergies and needed to speak with a chef. (I know, I know... I try to use the word "vegan" as much as possible, but when I'm in the slightest doubt of a cast member not understanding me, it's just so much easier to say "allergy". They ALL understand that word. For the record, I always explain that I'm a vegan - and, if necessary, what that means - when I speak with the chefs.) He was very polite and quietly said that he would take care of it.
As the other guests were checking out their menus, the server quietly brought the chef to my side, and he quietly discussed options with me. After clarifying what I could eat, he asked if I had anything in mind. It's terrible, but I never do. I gave my stock answer, which is "Do you have any suggestions? What would you like to make for me?" He offered me two ideas, and sadly, I completely forgot the first one. (Yes, I need to work on my reporting skills!) The second option was a couple of vegetable tacos. I chose that. I was imagining something rather simple - and would have been content with that. What I got was, simply, out of this world. I wish I knew how to describe these, except to say that there was a wonderful combination of sauteed veggies, and the whole thing was just brimming with flavor. I have always been a fan of Mexican food - but nothing I've ever had, before or after going vegan, matches this. It was wonderful.
The picture really doesn't do it justice. While not a HUGE meal, it was perfectly-sized for me. There are two flour tortillas there on the bottom, and then it was just loaded up with veggies - lots of white corn, peppers, onions... and I think maybe even some cactus. I enjoyed every bite of this meal, and the entire experience.
When you are seated, they also bring tri-colored tortilla chips with two types of salsa to your table. I did not ask, but I'm pretty sure all of that was vegan with the possible exception of the "red" chips. (In fact, my non-vegan friends were even discussing just what they might use to make those chips so red. If you don't know, consider yourself lucky, LOL.) They also provided us with warm corn tortillas and black beans (neither of which I tried, as I already had plenty to eat, and didn't want to bother confirming "vegan-ness" - but my guess would be that they both were vegan).
To be completely honest, though, I must confess that I also ordered one of their classic margaritas. It was vegan... and it was VERY potent. I don't drink very often, but I sometimes celebrate a bit at Walt Disney World. I have enjoyed a few of those frozen margaritas they sell at the stand by the giant pyramid. This was nothing like them. I was feeling tipsy after a few sips. If I had more than one of these, I don't think I could have left the restaurant on my own two legs. Drink at your own risk. :-)
And to round this out for others (like myself) traveling with non-vegan friends and family, my non-vegan hubby also enjoyed his meal, and I heard no complaints from anyone else we were dining with. I know that this was one of those "off the menu, chef's own creation" meals that you can't count on, but the experience was so wonderful that I will definitely be back.