The time has come when I can actually say that I've eaten every single thing at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. And so the time has also come when I can confidently save you a ton of money if you want to get in and out and eat only the best of the best there.
So let's start with the savory list: The top 7 things that you absolutely cannot miss at the Festival of the Holidays this year.
- Mexico's Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen – Enchilada de Pollo con Mole: Chipotle Chicken in a Corn Tortilla topped with Mole Negro and garnished with Shredded Oaxaca Cheese and Sesame Seeds ($6.35)
If you can handle a little heat, don’t miss this gorgeous enchilada. It’s packed with flavor and punch, stuffed with pulled chicken, covered in mole and cheese, and really one of the best things I’ve had at a Mexico kitchen at an Epcot festival. Also not a bad value at $6.35 given how loaded it is with protein.
- Germany's Bavaria Holiday Kitchen – Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl with Fresh Steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes featuring Melissa's Produce (Vegetarian, Kid Friendly) ($8.25)
Nothing fancy about this. Just a warm crusty scooped out bread bowl filled with warm cheese (actually more of a cheese soup consistency) and baby carrots, zucchini, and potatoes for dipping – if the bread and cheese itself somehow isn't enough. It's not cheap at $8.25 but it can absolutely feed 2 or 3 people. And it's perfect on a cool December day.
And while you're over there give the potato dumpling and sauerbraten a taste if you're in the mood. They're not too shabby either.
- Italy's Tuscany Holiday Kitchen – Cavatappi ai Quattro Formaggi: Baked Four-Cheese Pasta, Parmesan Crumble and Truffle Essence (Kid Friendly) ($8)
This. Is. Delicious. At $8 it’s not cheap but it’s a huge serving for a festival dish and it’s as hearty as anything I’ve ever eaten from an Epcot booth. Loaded with cheeses and generous with the truffle flavor and parmesan crumble on top, this tastes like the Pioneer Woman indulgences that I only dare to make and keep in the house over the holiday season. Don’t miss this fancy mac ‘n cheese bit of heaven. It’s a stand out item for sure.
- Japan's Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen – New Year Celebration Soba: Buckwheat Soba Noodles in Hot Dashi Soup with Chicken and Spinach ($7.25)
The presentation is lacking compared to Japan's last few festival booths – but that doesn't change the fact that this hearty bowl of steaming soba noodle soup is delicious. The broth is incredibly flavorful and the soba are light and warm. The spinach is fresh. And the chicken, while weirdly not cut up, is pretty generous.
- L'Chaim! Holiday Kitchen – Pastrami on Rye with House-made Pickles and Deli Mustard ($4.75)
This thing is a straight up properly done pile of pastrami on marble rye with spiced mustard and a crisp kosher pickle. In the land of no-decent-delis (how is this possible in Florida??) I can’t tell you how good this sandwich does my heart. Epcot’s festivals so often try to get creative to the point that the traditional food gets lost in translation. So not an issue here. The pastrami is generous enough and perfect. The marble rye is thin cut and not too fluffy. The mustard is spicy. And the pickle is crisp and garlicky. It’s just a well done pastrami on rye and it’s just what the doctor ordered
- L'Chaim! Holiday Kitchen – Potato Knish with Herb Sour Cream ($4.25) (Vegetarian, Kid Friendly)
Hold. Onto. Your. Hats. This thing is THE great value of the Festival of the Holidays this year. I actually went back and double checked the price twice. It’s only $4.25 – and it’s huge and amazing.
Truth told: This is not like any traditional potato knish I’ve ever had. It’s more like a mound of perfectly chunky mashed potatoes wrapped in chewy dough. Like…if really really good pizza crust was stuffed with mounds of your grandma’s mashed potatoes and then flash fried. But I don’t even care. It tastes AMAZING. And the herbed sour cream that’s generously poured on top makes it so much better. Please, please don’t miss this thing. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
- Canada's Yukon Holiday Kitchen – Seared Salmon with Crown Maple Whisky Glaze, Parsnip Silk, Apple Chutney and Hazelnut Croquant ($5.75)
I’m going to say it: This is THE best salmon I’ve ever had at Epcot. It’s wonderful. The fish is perfectly seared and it sits on this beautiful bed of silky parsnip purée with sweet maple whiskey glaze and apple chutney and crisp hazelnut crumbles. The sweetness of the maple whiskey glaze and apple chutney are so interesting and delicious against the salmon and the crisp hazelnut is great against the silky parsnip purée. I often just taste the things I’m reviewing but I finished this and wanted to lick the plate clean.
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Now that you've read my list I want to hear yours. What is your favorite dish at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays this year?