4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Review

4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa is a food truck now located on the Disney Springs West Side near Starbucks. In this Walt Disney World dining review, we’ll share food photos and how the latest concept from Orlando’s best barbecue smokehouse stacks up to the competition. (Updated November 18, 2020.)

Let’s start with an update and some good news! After temporarily suspending operations during and after the closure of Walt Disney World, the popular 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck is once again serving its innovative, Mexican-inspired dishes. There have been a couple of changes.

First, the 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck is now located on Disney Springs’ West Side at Exposition Park. The food truck is open daily from 5 pm to 10 pm Monday to Wednesday, 3 pm to 10 pm Thursday and Friday, and noon to 10 pm on Saturday & Sunday. Second, there are several new menu items in addition to signature favorites like Taco Cones and Burrito Bowls…

The new items developed by John Rivers and the award-winning 4 Rivers Smokehouse culinary team are:

  • Birria Tacos: Beef Birria on three crispy griddled corn tortillas with melted Oaxaca cheese. Served with a rich beef jus and onion-cilantro sauce.
  • Birria Quesadilla: Beef Birria with melted Oaxaca cheese on a crispy griddled flour tortilla. Served with a rich beef jus and onion-cilantro sauce.
  • Mulita: crispy tortilla stack with melted Oaxaca cheese and choice of filling, topped with queso fresco and onion cilantro salsa.
  • Roasted Sweet Potato: new vegetarian option that can be substituted for meat with any dish.
  • Cantina Trio: pico de gallo, guacamole and queso with fresh tortilla chips.
  • Margarita Bar: even better than the drink – decadent lime mousse, a graham cracker crust, with white chocolate and flake salt.

We have yet to taste-test the new menu items at the 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck, but will be doing so ASAP. While Walt Disney World was closed, we ordered takeout at 4 Rivers Smokehouse several times. It’s our favorite Orlando-area restaurant (outside of Walt Disney World) and we’re also big fans of the food truck.

The 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck has a menu that’s entirely unique to Disney Springs, meaning these items can’t be found at the other 4 Rivers locations in Orlando and Winter Park.

While we are looking forward to trying everything new on the menu at 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck, we should note that we’ve tried the seasonal items in the past and haven’t been overwhelmed. In our experience, these items are often smaller, less filling, and not nearly as delicious as the signature dishes.

While definitely give the Beef Birria items and new dessert a try, but in the past our experience has been that there’s a reason why the Taco Cone and Burrito Bowls are the signature items…

For our review of the food truck, Sarah ordered the Burrito Bowl with pork. This contains black beans, salsa verde, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, queso fresco, cilantro, jalapeño, and corn tortilla strips. She got hers served over rice (as opposed to lettuce).

The bowl was absolutely delicious. Words aren’t going to do justice to either of the meats we ordered; the pork was tender with the ideal amount of fattiness to give it balance and flavor, without being fatty. It was perfect. The bowl was also piled high with the other toppings, all of which were fresh and delicious.

Sarah preferred the ease and style of her bowl, whereas I preferred the taco cone. We also debated which was larger, and held them side by side, sifting them around in our hands like doofuses while trying to eyeball it and get a feel for weight. Rice is denser than lettuce, but the taco cone is edible whereas you probably shouldn’t eat the plastic bowl. Ultimately, our results were ultimately inconclusive.

Being a sucker for novelty foods, I ordered the Taco Cone with brisket, which also came with guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, queso, cilantro, jalapeño, and lettuce. This thing is gigantic, much like the Cone of Shame your pup might have to wear, except this cone would bring shame to no one.

It reminds me a bit of the iconic Handwich, which debuted at EPCOT and was billed as “the sandwich of the future” that could be eaten with one hand. That bread cone used to be served at the Land pavilion and Lunching Pad at Tomorrowland, and was later revived for EPCOT’s 35th Anniversary. (See below.)

The 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck is like a Handwich on steroids–better than any Handwich I’ve ever had at EPCOT. The meat is beyond belief, with the brisket far exceeding expectations, with a slight kick and resounding juiciness. As with the pork, there aren’t words for how good this is.

I had several bites by itself because the flavors in isolation were so delicious, and I wanted to savor that. Together with the other toppings, it’s like a symphony in your mouth. (For what it’s worth, I slightly preferred the brisket to the pork, but reasonable minds could differ on that.)

Going in, I was concerned that the cone would be awkward to eat, or that I’d wind up with half of the food on my shirt. I have a masterful ability to spill things onto myself–I’m so good at it that I don’t even bother with white shirts anymore. Here, that was not a problem. the cone held its form and eating it was pretty simple.

The unexpected “pro” of the cone was that it tasted delicious, with an exterior crispness that gave way to a slightly-moist flakiness. I expected this to be a total novelty, with the cone itself being a utilitarian food-holding device. Instead, it was delicious. It was also a lot of fun to eat, so bonus points for that. If the Handwich was the sandwich of the future, then this Taco Cone is the Handwich of the Future! 

My one ‘wish’ here is that the Taco Cone came with the option of rice instead of lettuce. I know that wouldn’t be the norm for a taco cone, but as Walt Disney famously didn’t say, “if you can dream it, you can do it.” I personally prefer rice, and thought the lettuce was the one ingredient in the cone that sort of just ‘got in the way’ of everything else. This is probably an odd minority opinion, though.

Part of me feels that it really is a shame that 4 Rivers is relegated to a food truck where it can only serve a limited menu, whereas Polite Pig has a brick and mortar location with a full menu of hit-or-miss items, too many of which are ineptly prepared.

This experience really made me wish we got the full 4 Rivers treatment (and also makes me eager to visit their Winter Park and Orlando locations) at Disney Springs. A larger menu plus a themed environment would’ve been cool (even if “themed” these days in Disney Springs means only one thing: an interior repurposed by rustic hipsters).

Although, perhaps the food truck setup is ideal for 4 Rivers given their unique menu? During our visit, we observed an unsurprising trend: guests saw people clutching the giant Handwich of the Future, asked where they got them, and ordered their own. Having a food truck rather than a confined, indoor setting allows 4 Rivers to gain customers via “word of eye.”

Tourists’ love for giant, novelty foods is absolute. I know this because I am a tourist, and I am a total sucker for things like this. When it comes to Disney Springs dining, I suspect this visual advertising is more important than word of mouth. Our Disney Springs restaurant reviews are among the least popular on this site; I’m assuming this is at least in part because visitors are overwhelmed by all of the choices and constant change at Disney Springs. Seeing a giant, delicious-looking Handwich is an easy way to decide where to eat with zero research.

Overall, we can’t say enough positive things about 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck. This is in the top 2 for counter service restaurants at Disney Springs–and is an easy #1 pick for the best budget option. While we still absolutely love D-Luxe Burger, you get more food for less money at 4 Rivers, making the latter a smart pick for Walt Disney World visitors paying out of pocket. It also blows away popular chains like Earl of Sandwich and Blaze Pizza. 4 Rivers is likely to stay relatively under-the-radar because it’s a food truck rather than a “proper” restaurant, but don’t let that discourage you from trying it, you absolutely will not be disappointed.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Have you tried the 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck? What did you think of it? Have you tried the Handwich of the Future? Are you disappointed its not a full service restaurant, or is a food truck ‘good enough’ for you? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!


25 Responses to “4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Review”
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