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Epcot, a favorite Walt Disney World theme park, allows you to explore international festivals and cuisine from cultures all around the world at its World Showcase, without the need for a passport.
If you want to go eating around the world at Epcot, however, you must either make the 8-hour, 551-mile drive to Orlando and pay for gas — or book a $150-$600 plane ticket. Let’s not forget about the prices of the hotel, admission tickets, parking and other transportation.
Why not make it easier and cheaper, and plan your own Epcot adventure in Charlotte? Whether you’re craving savory dumplings or steaming tamales, it’s easy to find the international food you’re in the mood for in the city.
Via Charlotte restaurants, let’s journey together through the 11 Epcot World Showcase countries, plus a bonus outpost — Africa — and a few more suggestions:
The American Adventure
When choosing to dine around the world at Epcot, Mexico is always the first stop (if you start with Canada, you’re just wrong, of course). Our neighbor just south of the border is known for its gracious culture and atmosphere. Mexico is home to famous and well-loved attractions including the monuments of Chichen Itza, stunning beaches in Tulum and Playa Del Carmen and the historic cities of Guanajuato and Mexico City. At your Charlotte restaurant of choice, grab some flavorful tacos and wash them down with a frozen margarita — just like the ones the Mexico Pavilion is famous for.
Want to taste the food from one of Europe’s well-known Northern countries right here in Charlotte? This country is home to delicious meals like Kjøttkaker (in simple terms: meatballs) and to beautiful sights including the Northern Lights and North Cape. Want your experience to feel extra Epcot-like? After you eat, go home and watch “Frozen” on streaming. It’s not quite the “Frozen Ever After” boat ride, but who doesn’t want to watch Elsa and Anna?
Location: 317 S Church St, Charlotte, NC 28202
Did you know that 84% of US residents love Chinese food? What is there not to love? From tasty pork dumplings to Singapore rice noodles, egg noodles with mushrooms, snow peas, bean sprouts and napa cabbage, there’s always something to eat and enjoy. China is also known for ancient structures including the Great Wall of China and its high-tech cities.
Jambo! Africa is the second-largest continent in the world, and as such it has rich cultural traditions that are expressed in many different ways, including dancing, art, beadwork and more. Try flavorful West African food like Jollof rice and egusi soup or torborgee, served with rice, without leaving the city of Charlotte.
[LEARN MORE: ‘The best Ghanaian takeout food you will find in Charlotte’: What to know about Mama Gee’s.]
Ethiopia, the oldest country in Africa, is known for its high-quality coffee and national parks. Although it’s home to Lalibela and the Gondar castles, it’s also home to favorite dishes like injera, a giant spongy bread with doro wat, a spicy chicken stew, which you can find in a variety of restaurants in Charlotte.
[READ NEXT: The Skillet: How Black Cuisine Became America’s Supper.]
Germany, located in central Europe, is famous for its selection of beer, sausages and pretzels, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. It’s also home to the famous cities of Berlin and Munich, along with the picturesque villages of the Bavarian Alps. At Epcot — or here at home — you can try out German favorites like traditional Salzkuchen, a pizza dough filled with sour cream, onions and bacon, or pork wiener schnitzel.
Bonus: Let’s see if you can pronounce the words on the menu correctly on the first try.
Located in Southern Europe, Italy is well-known for its stunning architecture, from the ancient ruins of Rome to the romantic canals of Venice, and it’s one of the top fashion spots in the world. Who can forget landmarks such as the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Italian food is also a favorite worldwide, from hand-tossed pizza to endless choices of pasta. Take a trip to Italy in Charlotte by feeding your cravings:
The American Adventure
When you think of burgers, hot dogs and Buffalo wings, only one thing comes to mind — good old-fashioned American food. The United States is known for being the fourth largest country in the world, with famous cities like Los Angeles, New York City and Miami. The U.S. is also home to the Grand Canyon, Golden Gate Bridge and Yellowstone National Park. At Epcot’s American Adventure, you can munch on American classics like barbecue, turkey legs, popcorn, root beer floats and more. Of course, you can do all that without leaving your zip code, too.
Pro tip: Also check out Southern comfort food, as well.
This country is famous for its nightlife and the extravagant city of Tokyo, as well as the serene temples of Kyoto. Japan is home to landmarks such as Mount Fuji and the Shinto shrines. Until you can make this must-visit stop in Asia, find these Japanese restaurants nearby. From flavorful ramen to filling dumplings, you can find these favorites just a drive away in Charlotte.
B’ssara, Tagine, Fish Chermoula — these can only mean one thing. Moroccan food. The North African country shares a shoreline with both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and you can find deserts and beaches, as well as mountains and lush gardens.
Pro tip: In addition to Moroccan cuisine, Chapter 6 also serves food from Spain, Algeria, Tunisia, France and Italy.
From the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris to the beautiful beaches of the French Riviera, France is home to famous attractions. In France, you can also visit historic sites such as the Palace of Versailles and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. At the France Pavilion, you can enjoy a “Beauty and the Beast” singalong. In Charlotte, after you bring home your macarons or coq au vin, break out the Disney soundtrack. “A dinner here is never second best!”
United Kingdom Pavilion
Hello, mate! Looking for a food trip to the country that is home to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the birthplace of famous rock bands including The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Smiths? You’re just in luck because these restaurants below are known for their British delicacies, such as Beer Battered Fish n’ Chips, Westminster Steak and Kidney Pie, and who can forget about Bangers and Mash?
Canada is known for two great things: Justin Bieber and Poutine fries. OK, fine, more than two: Pop artists like Drake, The Weeknd and Shania Twain, plus great landmarks like BANFF National Park and (the more glamorous part of) Niagara Falls all come from our neighbors to the north. In Charlotte, you won’t find a lot of traditional Canadian restaurants, but there is still some good poutine to be had — if you know where to look.
Bonus round: More dining around the world
Now these countries aren’t on the Epcot list, but why not celebrate and eat a delicious meal from other countries, as well? You can try foods that remain a favorite or be adventurous in eating a new meal. From Colombia to India, we’ve got just the thing for you and your appetite.
El Salvador has a rich cultural heritage that includes traditional music, dance and art. The country is also home to many beautiful natural landmarks, such as Coatepeque Lake and the Montecristo Cloud Forest Reserve. Find Salvadorian favorites like pupusas, yuca frita and Salvadoran tamales right here in Charlotte.
Colombia is a South American country known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture and delicious cuisine. From Bogota and Medellin’s bustling cities to the coffee region’s lush green hills, there’s something for everyone to love. Without leaving Charlotte, you can find pan de bono (cheese and yuca bread), or try bandeja paisa, a full plate with rich meats, red beans, white rice, an arepa and fried egg.
Brazil offers beautiful beaches and spectacular natural wonders such as the Amazon Rainforest and Iguazu Falls. Brazil is also famous for its lively festivals, such as Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, where people dance, sing, and celebrate in the streets. Celebrate Brazil’s culture by trying these Brazilian-infused restaurants. Try some classics like feijoada or pastel to transport yourself there from Charlotte.
Ireland is a beautiful country in Western Europe with stunning natural landmarks like the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry. It’s home to Shepherd’s Pie, a favorite filled with minced meat and mashed potatoes layered on top. You can also expand your taste buds and try other classics like Irish stew without leaving Charlotte.
Vietnam, located in Southeast Asia, is famous for its views of Ho Chi Minh City and the rice paddies of Sapa. Vietnam is filled with sights to see such as Halong Bay and the ancient city of Hoi An. Find Vietnamese favorites like pho, goi cuon (spring rolls) and Banh mi, a sandwich filled with pork, sliced cucumber and crisp cilantro without even leaving the Charlotte area.
India is home to the entertainment hub of Bollywood, and it’s also where you’ll find Hindu festivals celebrating Diwali and Holi. From the city of Mumbai to the temples of Varanasi, India is also known for its delicious cuisines like butter chicken, naan and panipuri. Explore more of India’s rich tastes at these Charlotte restaurants.