The 2021 Epcot® International Food and Wine Festival is the most expansive in years. With an expansive booth list already available—and more to come in October—this is perhaps one of Disney's best events in years.
But with all the food choices, where do you start? We tried thirteen food options at the festival so far, and so we ranked them from least favorite to favorite to give you an idea on what we liked best. Note that we enjoyed every single item we tried, but loved some more than others.
Beignet aux Trois Fromages
This cheese-filled beignet came burning hot, and while the freshness of the pastry was nice, it was the least flavorful dish of the day. This year's festival presents dishes absolutely packed with layers of flavor and spices, and after trying several that set a new standard for small-plate food at Walt Disney World® Resort, this one did not quite hit the same highs in those departments. It is still a perfectly good option for those who crave this particular flavor profile, but it is wise not to go in expecting the complex layers of brilliance produced by so much of the festival.
Taco de Ribeye
Make no mistake, this shaved ribeye taco had a great flavor profile and is worth trying for the quality, but its small size at its $7 price makes it a tough justification when there is enormous value to be found throughout the festival.
The takeaway from a lot of the dishes lower on the list have ultimately come down to value, as the exceptional quality and portion size of several dishes were so outstanding that it makes the rest stand out in a stark contrast.
ZiRan Beef Bao Bun
This bar bun packed such a strong punch of cumin that it was tough to distinguish additional flavors. Though we enjoyed it and the bun was exceptionally soft, we agreed that the flavor profile did not quite match its $7.25 price.
On a bright now, its fantastic bun makes for an excellent introduction to bao for the uninitiated.
Pan-fried Chicken Dumplings
Simple-but-great, these dumplings met every expectation and were a decent value at $5. These are perfect to match a craving, and light enough to keep you on your feet during a hot park day.
Chilaquiles con Chorizo
Everything from this point onward becomes a no-brainer recommendation, and the chilaquiles are no exception to the rule.The verde and Monterey Jack blend meet with a host of other toppings that made this decadent and complex. It was one of the day's bigger portions as well, and made the $7 price feel like a fair value.
The only knock on the dish is the ground chorizo, always a standout flavor in dishes for me, got lost in the mix of everything else on the plate.
Passion Fruit Cheesecake
The Hawai'i Booth, as it always has, might just be the best overall booth at the festival thus far. Quality dish after quality dish found us ordering nearly the entire menu and regretting none of it. The cheesecake was affordable and refreshing on a hot day, and made for a great dessert.
Teriyaki-glazed SPAM® Hash
Easily one of the best values at the festival, $4.25 will net you a solid portion of potatoes, ham, and a million other toppings that make this decadent and flavorful. This was a great dish for the whole party to dig into, and we finished by arguing who got to have the last bite.
Croissant aux Escargots
Saturated in garlic-goodness, the escargot hidden within the soft, fluffy croissant was tender and packed with flavor. Delivered hot, it made for the perfect light-meets-decadent dish that the festival has become so well known for.
Spicy Hako Sushi
This was some of the best sushi I have had at a festival booth. The sauce did a lot to add just the slightest spice to the dish, a welcome departure from the direction a lot of on-property foods take.
Kālua Pork Slider
The slider has been a festival staple for years and for good reason, as it is still among the best dishes in Epcot. To make it a simple suggestion: do not go to the festival without ordering this.
Crispy Barbecue Pork Rinds
Served with pimento cheese, this was a highlight throughout all my years at the various festivals. Those with an aversion to pork rings or fat-heavy flavors will likely not connect with this dish, and there was a rind or two in the bag that was hard and overcooked, but this was a perfect dish outside of those minor flaws. Unique in its presentation and flavor while abundant in its serving size for its low price, this dish perfectly embodies what is great about Disney's food festivals.
What more needs to be said? Though it is one of the pricier items at the festival, it makes itself worth every single dollar for its rich taste and perfectly crispy texture. Few dishes at a food festival have dropped my jaw in the same way this did, all in freshness, taste and texture.
And for all the incredible dishes we tried at the festival, the Hawai'i both still managed to hold the best of all with possibly the simplest dish on the list. Some of the best of any raw or sushi-style fish I have had at Walt Disney World Resort, this tasted like some of the freshest food I had all day.