World Showcase’s Mexico pavilion is next at Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts, where you’ll find the El Arista Hambriento, or “the Hungry Artist” Food Studio. This Walt Disney World dining review features real world photos of every food and dessert on the menu, and offer our thoughts on each dish.
One of the small joys I take from writing these reviews is making dumb jokes, most of which are amusing to me alone. I’ve learned to keep them fairly apolitical, because no one wants an American’s perspective of current affairs related to their country. Nevertheless, even a mere allusion will sometimes elicit a “stick to what you know” comment. That’s challenging, because I’m not really sure what I know if not dumb jokes.
Whenever I sit down to write reviews of the Mexico booth, I throw out probably a half-dozen one liners having to do with Mexico-U.S. relations for this reason. Whatever you’re imagining right now is probably funnier and more pointed than my stupid humor. In our review of Mexico from Festival of the Holidays, I instead settled upon a convoluted joke about Taco Bell. I felt it was a “sick burn,” but the lack of reader comments suggested otherwise. I lost my train of thought with all of this, but suffice to say, Mexico’s El Arista Hambriento Food Studio is now the anti-Taco Bell in a good way…
Here’s what’s on the menu at Mexico’s Hungry Artist Food Studio:
Sopes de Chilorio: Slow-braised Pork marinated in Ancho Chili Paste served on Fried Corn Dough with Black Beans, Queso Oaxaca, Crema Mexicana and Salsa Verde
Callo de Hacha en Salsa de Jengibre y Habanero: Two Seared Scallops with Ginger-habanero Sauce atop Yucca Purée
Chocoflan: Creamy Mexican Custard and Chocolate Sponge Cake topped with Cajeta and Hazelnuts
Now let’s take a look at our photos and reviews of each food item at Mexico’s El Arista Hambriento Food Studio…
First up is the Sopes de Chilorio, which is one of the most ambitious and best dishes we’ve had at the Mexico booth in a long, long time.
Here, the fried base provides a crisp and corny foundation for the wealth of toppings piled atop it. Each ingredient pops with freshness and flavor, bringing something to the table here. The juicy slow-braised pork is the dish’s crescendo, completing a dish far better than we expected.
With that said…this is the Mexico booth. It’s entirely possible we got very luck with a freshly-made item and you’ll get very unlucky with one that sits around for an hour before ordering it. We still think it’s worth the roll of the dice on this, as at its peak, this is one of the best festival items.
Anyone who has been on the Epcot ‘festival beat’ for a while knows that these booths tend to do scallops very well. I usually write “surprisingly well” when describing them, but there are two “issues” with this: 1) Sarah tells me scallops actually aren’t that difficult to prepare, and 2) if they’re always good, is it really a surprise anymore?
Look, these are events where pasta is routinely screwed up, so I think I’m in safe territory being continually surprised and delighted when scallops are well-prepared. In the case of Callo de Hacha en Salsa de Jengibre y Habanero, you’ve got two seared scallops on what’s billed as a ginger-habanero sauce. Ours was light on those ingredients and more like a punchy tomato soup.
Not a knock, as it worked well with the scallops and the yucca puree was a great accompaniment. Probably not the most authentic dish or one that offers good value out of pocket, but the taste is great and these scallops are definitely worth a Disney Dining Plan snack credit.
El Arista Hambriento Food Studio was the first of the World Showcase Food Studios that we did, and I think by the time I wrote our initial overview of the food, I had forgotten about the Chocoflan.
I’m not sure how, as this is possibly my favorite overall dessert at the event, and definitely my top pick when you factor in value for money. The sweet custard and caramel are an excellent contrast to the rich chocolate sponge cake; the dessert is juicy (there’s probably a better word for it, but I’m drawing a blank) while still having a nice crunch from the toppings.
This is one of the few items at Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts that I’d order a second time–the value and quality are that good.
Here are your options in terms of drinks at Mexico’s Hungry Artist Food Studio:
Allende Mexican Craft Beer
Frida Lychee Margarita: El Velo Blanco Tequila, Lychee Purée, Botran Rum, and Fresh Lime Juice
Diego Dragon Fruit Margarita: Bruxo Mezcal, Dragon Fruit Purée, Ginger Cordial, and GuanÃ¡bana Liqueur
Overall, El Arista Hambriento Food Studio at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts is one of the best showings we’ve seen from Mexico in years. It “only” ranked #6 in our power rankings we assembled prior to starting individual booth coverage, but much like the BCS rankings, sometimes it’s hard to know how a certain result was achieved–even if you’re responsible for the system. The Hungry Artist is a Food Studio where everything is delicious, two items are good to great values out of pocket, and all are valid for credits on the Disney Dining Plan. As far as these booths go, it’s tough to beat all of that.
What do you think of the Mexico’s Hungry Artist Food Studio? Have you tried any of the food items at this booth? What did you think of them? Do you agree that Mexico’s El Arista Hambriento Food Studio ranks as one of the top overall booths at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts? 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!