Walt Disney World‘s 2019 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival officially kicked off this past Thursday, giving park-goers a chance to taste more dishes from across the globe than ever.

By Shay Spence
September 04, 2019
Getty Images/Shay Spence

For those unfamiliar with the Disney scene: Epcot (one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort) is known for its World Showcase, where guests can walk through pavilions themed around different countries and sample local food and drink at each. During the annual Food & Wine Festival, the menu offerings are vastly expanded, with each country hosting pop-up food stalls serving new dishes. There is also representation of other countries that don’t have a permanent pavilion at the park, making for a more comprehensive around-the-world experience.

With so many eating options—seriously, it’s overwhelming—it would be easy to waste half of your day deciding where to spend your time and money. But we don’t want that for you! After eating our way across the “world”, we’ve come up with a list of five can’t-miss eats that you need to know about, along with some honorable mentions…and a few you might want to pass on by.

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Best of the Best

Ropa Vieja Empanada

Islands of the Caribbean Booth, $5.50

Cuban-style braised beef gets packed in an ultra-flaky pie dough, making for one of our absolute favorite bites at the festival. The meat is compacted into an ultra-savory, paste-like filling (meat paste doesn’t sound appealing but just trust that it is), which is a rich complement to the airy crust—all topped with a tomato aioli. Don’t miss this one.

Madras Red Curry

India Booth, $5

If you or anyone in your group is a vegetarian, this is a must! Like any good curry, it’s packed with spices and seasoned with just enough salt that they all shine beautifully. Cauliflower is the star of the show here, and it’s perfectly crisp-tender—not at all mushy or overcooked, as can so often happen with cauliflower.

Ravioli Carbonara

Italy Booth, $7.25

Carbonara purists, please avert your eyes: This sauce is cream-based. And while traditional carbonara is made with egg yolks and no cream, it doesn’t matter what you want to call this, it’s delicious. The egg-enriched pasta has a beautiful golden color, just-chewy-enough texture, and ideal thickness for containing all the cheese inside. The bacon—again, not the traditional cured pork product in carbonara, but it doesn’t matter—adds a necessary extra savory punch.

Pão de Queijo

Brazil Booth, $4.50

While perhaps not the most glamorous-looking dish on the menu, this classic Brazilian cheese bread should not be overlooked. In traditional style, it’s naturally gluten-free by using tapioca flour instead of wheat flour, and has sharp cheese  baked into it. The crispy outside gives way to a soft, hollow center, making for a truly heavenly bite.

Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard

Ireland Booth, $4.25

This is the rich, gluttonous dessert that you came for. It’s essentially a molten chocolate cake—with that gloriously underbaked, soft center—topped with a creamy, boozy sauce. It’s sweet and indulgent in the best way possible, so please do make sure to save room.

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Honorable Mentions

Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles

China Booth, $6.75

This one only gets minor points taken off for a slightly soggy breading—but it’s such a light coating that it doesn’t really detract much from the experience. The shrimp are perfectly cooked, extremely tender, and the bed of spicy noodles they come with are worth the price alone.

Frothy Ramen

Japan Booth, $6

A new addition to the festival, it’s bound to be one of the most polarizing dishes out there this year. Chilled noodles come with a savory cold foam topping in a clear plastic mug—and we really do mean savory. The foam tastes strongly of soy sauce, and the noodles are coated in a super-concentrated dashi broth that’s flavor is only intensified when chilled. We recommend mixing it all together (the foam is very salty on its own), and giving it a go! While definitely intense, it just might grow on you with each bite.

Deconstructed Pavlova

Australia Booth, $4

If you want to end on a sweet note but don’t have quite enough room for a molten chocolate cake smothered with Irish cream, this is a great option. The fresh berries, cloud-like meringues and sweet pastry cream all work in tandem to create a light, refreshing dessert.

A Couple Things You Can Skip

Charcuterie in a Cone

Spain Booth, $6.50

Given all of the interesting options to choose from at the festival, we found this one to be underwhelming. It’s a simple mixture of olives, cured meats and cheese in a paper cone, and it’s the most expensive food on the menu at this booth. If you want Spanish food, try the paella instead.

Cheddar and Bacon Soup

Canada Booth, $5.25

While this is a famous dish from Le Cellier, the permanent steakhouse at the Canada pavilion, the festival version we got fell a little bit flat. The cheese is tasty, to be sure, but wasn’t hot enough for a soup, and ended up more like a thick cheese sauce. The pretzel roll was slightly stale as well. Instead, try out the Duck Confit Poutine at the refreshment port next to the pavilion. (And if you really want the soup, make a reservation at Le Cellier.)

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