Two Disney restaurants with similar types of theming (but with very different types of food) are Disneyland’s Blue Bayou Restaurant and Disney World’s San Angel Inn at Epcot. My family has eaten at San Angel Inn in Epcot many times, and we love the food and the theming. So, during a recent trip to Disneyland, we couldn’t resist trying out Blue Bayou and making comparisons between the two.
The San Angel Inn is located inside the Mexico pavilion at Epcot, and the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Cabalerros boat ride goes right through the restaurant. To find the restaurant, you walk into an Aztec Temple and through a festive marketplace where the lighting makes it appear that you are outside, in the evening. The restaurant is located at the end of marketplace, right next to the entrance to the boat ride. Some tables are located right next to the water, which makes for a nice view of the boats passing by. In the distance, a volcano erupts from time to time.
The Blue Bayou is located at New Orleans Square in Disneyland, and the Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride goes right through the restaurant. The entrance is fairly subtle compared to the temple entrance of the San Angel Inn, and the theming really begins once you are seated at your table. Inside the restaurant, the tables appear to be outside, on a nice summer evening in the Louisiana Bayou. Like the San Angel Inn, some tables are located right next to the water, with a nice view of the boats from Pirates of the Caribbean floating by. Overhead, shooting stars can be seen from time to time.
Both restaurants are extremely dark. I think Blue Bayou might be just a bit darker, since I found it especially difficult to read the menu at this restaurant. I have been seated right by the water at both restaurants and enjoyed both.
Although I really like the immersive nature of the San Angel Inn inside the pyramid, since Pirates of the Carribean is my family’s favorite ride, I feel I have to give a slight edge to Blue Bayou in terms of theming.
The entrance to Blue Bayou is more subtle than the San Angel Inn
In terms of menus, the food at the two restaurants is very different. The San Angel Inn menu (not surprisingly) features Mexican food. The Blue Bayou Restaurant has a variety of food on the menu, including salads, seafood, chicken and steak, with a "New Orleans" flair. Blue Bayou is the more expensive option, and one reason why we opted for lunch at the Blue Bayou instead of dinner on this trip.
Starters: Importantly, food service at the San Angel Inn starts with chips and salsa delivered to the table, while Blue Bayou starts off with bread and butter. For my family, no food on earth can beat chips and salsa so I give San Angel Inn the edge here.
Main Course: At San Angel Inn, my husband and I typically order Tacos de Carne and it’s always consistent. My kids order the the cheese quesadillas and they like them (if they have any room left after all the chips they eat).
At Blue Bayou I ordered the salmon and my husband ordered the Surf and Turf. I enjoyed my salmon and my husband’s food was deemed acceptable. The kids ordered macaroni and cheese and unfortunately it was not a hit. I will say that my kids like very basic “kids food” and sometimes turn their noses up at “fancy” mac and cheese that doesn’t taste like Kraft. Knowing this, and seeing that the mac and cheese looked very appetizing, I tried it. Unfortunately, I also felt it was terrible. So, I have to give San Angel Inn the edge here for all around family appeal.
With Blue Bayou being in Disneyland and San Angel Inn being in Epcot, there is one very big difference between the drinks on the menu at these two restaurants – alcohol. Disneyland does not serve alcohol, while Epcot most definitely does. In fact, a popular margarita bar, La Cava del Tequila, is also located inside the Mexico Pavilion, and the same drinks are available at the restaurant. You can even get a tequila flight. I always enjoy a good margarita, with my favorites being the jalapeño, cucumber, and avocado.
However, one thing that the Blue Bayou does serve is the famous non-alcoholic mint julep. I’ve heard Ryno Clavin from the DIS Unplugged and DIS POP rave about this drink many times, so I was so excited to finally try it out for myself. Well, after all that anticipation, I’m sorry to say, I just did not like it. I think I may like to try an alcoholic version, but the flavors of this non-alcholoic drink just didn’t taste right to me. I offered it to my 7-year old who proclaimed “l love it" but it was still more than half full by the end of our meal. So, I have to give San Angel Inn the edge here.
It's hard to resist a restaurant connected to such an iconic ride!
Since I’ve been to San Angel Inn over a dozen times and Blue Bayou just once, it might not be fair for me to comment much on the service. But, let’s just say our service at Blue Bayou was not very good. We waited between 5-10 minutes after we were seated just for a server to come to our table. Only after we ordered did we get bread or water and it was 100 degrees outside that day! At San Angel Inn we have always received glasses of water and chips and salsa as soon as we sat down. So, San Angel gets an edge here too.
Overall, I enjoyed the theming at both restaurants very much. We were seated right by the water during this last Blue Bayou meal, and we've been seated by the water several times at San Angel Inn as well.
While I have to say I prefer San Angel Inn in Epcot more than the Blue Bayou in Disneyland, if you are a fan of the ride Pirates of the Caribbean, I highly recommend that you eat at this restaurant at least once. Ask for a table near the water, and if it's not too busy (or you don't mind waiting), you can get a close table and see the boats ride by while you eat your dinner. Then, go on the ride and see the reverse perspective. I will give the same recommendation for San Angel Inn and the Gran Fiesta Tour, but I also highly recommend the salsa verde, the tequila flight, and the avocado margarita. Enjoy!