Best bites at this year’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival


Celebrating its 25th year, the annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is more than just character topiaries and beautiful flowers. Food is as colorful as the flowers.

As spring begins, the annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival kicks off the blooming season. When visiting Epcot, the food and drink is a huge part of the experience. From traveling around World Showcase to innovative plates in Future World, the food at Epcot is always on point. Throughout the year, Epcot festivals showcase the best bites at various marketplaces throughout the theme park.

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Now through May 28, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is happening. Strolling around the park, the brightly colored blooms are visually stunning. The character topiaries are impressive. And, the food is equally impressive.

After recently visiting the annual festival, these dishes are FoodSided’s best bites recommendations.

Best bites at this year’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, photo by Cristine Struble

Spicy Blackened Shrimp and Cheddar Cheese Grits at Florida Fresh

Located in the World Showcase between France and Morocco, Florida Fresh showcases some of the best ingredients from Florida. A new dish at Florida Fresh, the spicy blackened shrimp and cheddar cheese grits were a lovely balance of heat and sweet. The three shrimp had a spice blend that brought heat without killing your palate.

The cheese grits were creamy, yet not too heavy. To balance the heat from the shrimp, the grits offered a cooling effect. Additionally, the corn added texture and sweetness to the dish.

My only complaint was that the shrimp still had the tails on. With the shrimp on top of the grits and sauce, it would have been nice for the shrimp to have the tails removed. Make sure to get some napkins to wipe off your fingers after touching the tails.

Best bites at this year’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, photo by Cristine Struble

Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews

Although everyone else was ordering the gigantic Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider, I opted for the Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash. While the slider looked amazing, it is huge. With all the other dishes that I was trying, I knew that I would be so full after eating that dish.

I was extremely pleased with the hash. The pickled jalapenos offered the heat to cut through the rich, smoked meat. Definitely don’t be afraid of the jalapenos. The cheddar fondue tempers the heat, too.

This combination is definitely a dish that could be recreated at home. Hash is relatively simple to make. Anyone could make a similar dish using some left over steak, pork or sausage. Just remember to balance flavor and texture to create a perfect bite.

Also, don’t miss the Central 28 Brewing Co. Sunshine Greetings Orange Hibiscus Wheat Ale at The Smokehouse. This local craft beer is a delightful wheat beer that is a perfect pairing with barbecue. The slight sweetness from the orange and the floral notes from the hibiscus is a wonderful counterpoint to the hearty, bold barbecue flavors.

Local Wildflower Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake at The Honey Bee-stro

I was looking forward to the new both at this year’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Honey is such a versatile ingredient and the food at this marketplace didn’t disappoint. The best bite at this marketplace is hands down the Local Wildflower Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake.

The dessert had a lighter flavor than traditional NY-style cheesecake. The cheesecake was quite fluffy and the crust was flaky and light. With an edible flower perched on the honey garnish, the cheesecake was picture perfect.

Accompanying the cheesecake was an orange blossom honey ice cream with a dust garnish. The ice cream was subtle yet slightly sweet. It offered a nice balance to the richer cheese cake. On a hot day, make sure to eat the ice cream quickly before it melts.

Lastly, the fennel pollen meringue kisses were the perfect taste to finish the plate. The herbaceous notes from the fennel pollen was a perfect contrast to the honey. The only downside was that there were just two meringues. I would have loved three or four of them.

Playalinda Brewing Company Violet Lemonade Ale at Pineapple Promenade

One of the fun parts of Epcot is tasting the many beverages around the theme park. With so many colorful flowers all over the theme park, the beverages are just as colorful. The Playalinda Brewing Company Violet Lemonade Ale is as pretty as the beautiful blooms.

This floral lemonade ale is as flavorful as it is colorful. With some floral notes, the ale still sips like a beer. While the pretty color will attract some drinkers, the traditional beer drinker will be drawn to its complex flavors. Whether enjoyed with a spicy dish or sipped on its own, this craft beer is a must try.

These best bites are just a few of the many delicious food choices at the annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. It can be difficult to eat at every marketplace in a single visit. Luckily, the festival lasts throughout the spring.

Next: Honey's natural sweetness is a star at Epcot

Are you planning a trip to Epcot? Take a picture of your best bite at Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and tag us with #FoodSided. We can’t wait to see what you’re enjoying.