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I’m Just Here for the Food — San Angel Inn

-Molly Engquist, WDW Radio Team

Exterior of Mexico Pavilion pyramid. Own photo 2019

Cinco De Mayo commemorates the 1862 victory of Mexico over the French in the Battle of Puebla. Here in America it has become a day to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. At the Mexico Pavilion in EPCOT, another celebration starts September 16 to recognize when Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1810.

There is plenty to do in the Mexico Pavilion on Cinco de Mayo and any other day to celebrate Mexican culture, though. And what better way to do that than with some wonderful food! I know Lou’s rule is to always go to the left, and I would have to agree. I love starting my culinary tour around World Showcase with some empanadas or tacos or guacamole and chips and, of course, a margarita to wash it all down.

The two main sit-down restaurants in the Mexico Pavilion are the San Angel Inn and the La Hacienda de San Angel. The San Angel Inn opened inside the Mesoamerican pyramid when EPCOT opened in 1982. The restaurant is managed by the same people that ran a restaurant by the same name in an old hacienda in Mexico dating back to 1692. Have you ever eaten at one of these restaurants, and what was/is your favorite meal?

Interior of Mexico Pavilion with San Angel Inn in the back. Own photo 2019

Tacos are always a favorite in our house, but this year I thought I would try something different. Beef Tenderloin in Chili Sauce is not on the menu any more at San Angel Inn, but it should be. Let’s make a margarita — on the rocks, no salt — and start this recipe from my favorite “Delicious Disney” cookbook. 

Here’s the recipe and my notes. 

3 pasilla chilis

3 guajillo chilis

2 tomatoes, cut in half (I used 3 roma tomatoes)

4 whole cloves

2½ cups water

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut in ¾-inch pieces

2 poblano chilis, stems and seeds removed

1 Spanish onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Coarse salt, to taste

1 – Heat oven to broil.

2 – Slice pasilla and guajillo chilis in half. Remove and discard stems and ribs. Place on a foil-lined roasting pan

3 – Broil skin side up until skins are blackened. Transfer to a bowl covered with plastic wrap, and let peppers steam and cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Peel and discard the skins.

I did not do steps 1-3 from the original recipe because I was unable to find those chilis here. But I did find them dried so I rehydrated them by putting them in the water for 5 minutes before the rest of step 4. I cut the stems off first too.

4 – In a medium-size pot over medium heat, stir together roasted chilis, tomatoes, cloves, and water. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

5 – Put the tomatoes and pepper mix in a blender, purée, and strain. Set aside and keep warm.

Once you blend it I used a strainer with very little holes right into the saucepan I used before. It was messy so I did that in the sink too. Then I put the sauce on the warmer burner.

Now for the beef! I went to the butcher and they cut me a beef tenderloin and I cut them to size when I got home. Don’t cut them more than ¾.”  The thicker they are the longer it takes to cook, but if they are too thin they will dry out before the peppers and onions are cooked.

6 – In a heavy skillet (I used my sauté pan) heat vegetable oil and sauté beef, poblano chilis, onions, and garlic. Season with pepper and cumin, and cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until beef is done. I did put a little salt on the onions before I put them in the pan to bring the flavor out.

If you like your peppers done a little more like I do, once you sear the beef on each side, set them on the peppers and let them cook for 3-5 mins more.

7 – Add sauce from the warmer burner and simmer for 5 minutes. This smells so good! Season with salt to taste. Be sure to taste the sauce after this because it does need a bit. Just don’t over salt, taste it along the way to get it how you like.

8 – Serve with rice or warm tortillas. I tried it both ways and I preferred it over rice and with the warm tortillas. The rice held the sauce better and it helped blend the meal together.

It paired great with a nice Rioja wine that was a soft addition to the flavor of the chili sauce. This meal was not too spicy, but had a lot of flavor! Let me know if you try the recipe and be sure to tag us in any photos. Also check out some past Mexico Pavilion restaurant reviews from Lou. Now I’m hungry again! 

My name is Molly and I live in South Dakota. With my art and design training and love for history, I have helped develop over 80 local history exhibits through the years as a Curator. Disney has been in my blood since I was born. Visiting my Grandparents in California also meant my parents taking us to Disneyland. Since the late 1970s, I have taken many trips to DL and WDW but sometimes it’s too long in between trips. I have always tried to stay connected to Disney from watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” every Sunday night, to movies, books and blogs. Once I found Lou on WDW Radio, it became even easier to dream of Disney in between visits!