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Showing posts with label Mexican. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexican. Show all posts

Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar

7468 W.Sand Lake Road 
(Restaurant Row)
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 226-0550

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a review or write up for Rocco’s Tacos. My last write up for Tastes Of Orlando was back in 2012 for Rocco’s, and lots of things have changed since then.

I have visited a few times intermittently since then for friends and family members birthday events or corporate gatherings, so I was excited at the opportunity to return and revisit for a proper blog write up.

As I said back in 2012, the one of many things I love about this location of Rocco’s is the fact that it makes me feel like have arrived at an upscale version of the bar from the movie "From Dusk till Dawn".

Do you remember that movie with George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino? It's the one where they get stuck at a crazy and wild bar on the dark side of Mexico and everyone turns into vampires. Although I never feared anyone at Rocco's turning into a vampire, the ambiance and feeling of the place certainly reminded me of the film.

Owner Rocco Mangel opened his first location in West Palm Beach in 2007, and has had quite a good following with a total of eight stores that have opened since then. The Orlando location was still in its infancy when I went for the first time in 2012, but they have maintained a steady business since then.

That is a testament to the brand and quality that owner Rocco Mangel brings to his establishments, especially when you consider how many restaurants have opened and closed in Orlando and Restaurant Row since then.

They have a few new additions to the menu and also have reinvigorated some of the old classics and kicked things up a notch now in 2018.

Inside, or Outside, both of the bars at Rocco’s are pretty impressive. This is the inside bar with just about every type and brand of tequila you can imagine.

Whether you choose to dine inside or outside, there is plenty of room, with great views no matter where you are. The inside is full of unique chandeliers, skeletons, bizarre statues and an array of interesting things to look at. Outside they have seating lakeside with a great view of Little Sand Lake and plenty of tiki torches to light up the night.

The Chips and Guacamole here have always been a favorite of mine, with guac made table side and the seasoned chips that are good by themselves.

Jalapeno Rellenos are stuffed and fried jalapeño poppers with cotija cheese, lime crema, avocado ranch and cilantro for a really good appetizer to share at the table.

Pollo Al Carbon is a generous platter from the Especiales de la Casa section of the menu with chicken, green bean and frisee salad, pickled red onions and sweet plantains.

Of course Rocco’s has the tacos as well, and they do a pretty good job of serving them up with a variety of protein options, like this platter with Chorizo, Carne Asada, and Pollo.

Camarones Patron are a cool item on the menu that I really enjoyed, with shrimp sauteéd in tequila and rojo chipotle butter sauce, padrón peppers and served with flour tortillas.

Hey… they have salads here too, and they are pretty darn good. The Ensalada de Espincaca at Rocco’s is made with blackened chicken, spinach, mixed greens, goat cheese, bacon, grilled onion and a very delicious charred jalapeno vinaigrette.

Enchiladas are always a good choice, especially these Mole Poblano ones filled with pulled chicken in adobo drenched in a mole poblano sauce.

For all you meat lovers out there, I strongly recommend the Gaucho Platter with grilled steak, chicken breast, shrimp, chorizo, chimichurri, grilled green onions, radishes and corn tortillas.

You can not go to Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila bar and not get a margarita. They make some of the best margaritas in Orlando. One of my favorites is the Cadillac Margarita made with El Mayor Anejo, Grand Marnier, and Rocco’s Housemade Sour Mix.

Back in the beginning phases of Rocco’s, Rocco himself went and scoured the globe and visited Mexico more than 20 times to get a better vision for his concept. His goal was not just getting the food right, but more bring the best and widest selection of Tequila's in the southeast to his loyal patrons.

At any given time Rocco's can have as many as 300 different Tequila's on hand. A single shot of a lower end Tequila may cost you around $5.00, But, for the discerning customer, they have a shot of "1800 Coleccion Anejo" for a mere $250.00.

Back in his heyday, Rocco was known for visiting his establishments and donning the shoes Pee Wee Herman made famous during the “Tequila” song and dance in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. He would jump on the bar and pour tequila shots down patrons throats and the place would go crazy.

Nowadays, Rocco Mangel is a little laid back and not as crazy as he once was. He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis not too long ago, so he has undergone a lifestyle change, but it’s all for the better. Rocco has a made a big effort to be part of the National MS Society because as he says, he wants people to know that his life, and those of others with MS, can continue to thrive.

In addition to all the walks and fundraisers Rocco is a part of, he has also added a special drink to the menu called the MS Miracle Margarita that is made with Maestro Dobel Diamante, Cedilla Acai Liqueur, Agave Nectar, Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice, and best of all, the proceeds go entirely to The National MS Society.

I said it in 2012, and I’ll say it again... The only thing that would have made our experience better at Rocco’s Tacos, is if Salma Hayek playing the part of Santánico Pandemonium would have been our server. The food is always good here, and it’s an atmosphere that is so fun and enjoyable and they make a damn fine margarita.

Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Pepe's Cantina

120 West Church St
Orlando, FL 32801

Pepe’s Cantina in Winter Park took over a space that used to be Mi Tomatina, a place that specialized in Paella in late 2015. Ever since then, Pepe’s has been a great success at the Hannibal Square location and has become a staple of good eats in Winter Park.

Pepe’s has done so well in fact, that the owners decided to open a second location in Downtown Orlando at 120 W. Church street, adjacent to Hamburger Mary’s.

Sure, they have Tex-Mex classics like enchiladas, chimichangas, tacos and burritos, but Pepe’s strives to be innovative with a menu that puts a new twist on traditional Mexican cuisine. Table side guacamole, tacos with authentic fillings and fresh homemade tortillas are great for lunch or dinner, but ordering off of the dinner menu is where the difference is. Pepe is a real person by the way, as in Chef Jose "Pepe" Baranneko.

For dinner they serve entrees like Pollo Pepe’s a grilled chicken breast served with onions, peppers, tomatoes and bacon and is topped off with a signature red sauce and queso, or the Pacific Salmon topped with a sweet and sour mango jalapeno sauce. An interesting appetizer on the menu is the Shrimp Dip which is grilled shrimp with cheese dip, topped with pickled onions and cilantro.

Of course any good Tex-Mexery should have plenty Tequila and Margarita specials on hand, and Pepe’s certainly delivers in that category. Guests can try a Spicy Mango Margarita, a Jalapeno Margarita, a Mezcal-Rita or just go straight for the good stuff and slam a shot of Avion Reserva 44 extra anejo for $26.00/shot.

I haven't got to try out all there is at the new Church Street location, but we did stop by for lunch one day, and it was really good.

Chips and Salsa are standard fare at any Mexican restaurant these days, but this salsa is made in house as well as the chips, and that’s what really makes Pepe’s so good. They focus on fresh.

These Grilled Chicken Tacos were topped with radicchio, pickled red onions and cilantro then topped with a chive aioli sauce and are served with black beans and Mexican rice. You can choose flour or corn and soft or hard for your taco, and all tortillas are made in house.

This is a Mexican Pizza. It’s totally not what you would expect, but that’s what Pepe’s really strives for...classic dishes, or even not so classic, like a Mexican Pizza, made with different ingredients, flavors and styles that you are not accustomed to. You can choose shredded chicken or ground beef, and they top it with red sauce, cheese, jalapenos, sour cream and cilantro and serve it atop a lightly baked tortilla.

Stop by the new location and say Hola to Pepe. Chef Pepe and his team are doing a great job at both locations offering his signature blend of authentic Mexican ingredients with innovative culinary techniques.

Pepe's Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tamale Co. Opens a Takeout

1006 E Altamonte Dr.
Altamonte Springs FL 32701
Unit 1002
View Website Here

Central Florida’s wildly popular food truck serving fresh and delicious Mexican street food is celebrating the opening of their first brick and mortar location.

Now all food lovers have even more access to enjoy the fresh and delicious tamales of the beloved Tamale Co. Food Truck whenever they want, now that “Tamale & Company Take Out” in Altamonte Springs.
is officially open.

“We could not be more excited to officially open Tamale & Company Take Out and right in time for the holidays,” says Owners Fernando and Jennifer Tamayo. “The love surrounding the food that we so passionate about ourselves has been incredible, and we are so happy to now make it even easier for all our food truck lovers to find us and enjoy our tamales every day. We can’t wait to see everyone at our grand opening, and we hope we become everyone’s favorite stop to satisfy their cravings throughout the busy week.”

Customers of Tamale & Company Take Out will feel right at home at the 1,000 square foot quick service casual feel restaurant with a modern Mexican design. The location will serve all of the tasty tamales from the food truck, weekly special tamales and even more of a selection of the sought after Mexican street food.

Patrons can dine inside at a wall bar or outside at select tables and chairs and enjoy the ease and convenience of “grab and go” service with delicious home cooked meals, a very popular concept in the Tamayo’s hometown of Mexico City. 

Tamale Co. Food Truck was founded in Orlando by Chef Fernando Tamayo and Jennifer Tamayo in December of 2012. They provide the people of Central Florida with an original and traditional assemblage of different flavors in gourmet Mexican tamales that fills the void between fast food and sit-down dining. Tamale Co. Food Trucks can be found serving at Famers’ Markets and making local food truck visits throughout Central Florida.

Hours of operation are Monday-Friday 7am-8pm and Saturday 11am-8pm (closed Sunday). For more news and information on Tamale & Company Take Out and Tamale Co. Food Truck, visit them on Facebook or at

Tamale Co. Food Truck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Cocina 214 Set to Open Second Location in Daytona Beach

357 S. Atlantic Ave.
Daytona Beach, FL.
View Website Here

Cocina 214, in Downtown Winter Park is expanding to include a second location at a popular beachfront spot in Daytona Beach.

Executive Chef Isidro Alvarez is leading the award winning restaurant’s kitchen staff and menu ingenuity.

With more than 35years of experience in the restaurant industry, Alvarez is the perfect person to hold this well deserved position, overseeing the production of Cocina’s high quality and fresh Tex Mex dishes.

Previously, he trained with notable chef David Cordua and founder Michael Cordua of Churrascos Restaurants, in addition to working for Hilton Hotel and other restaurants.

Dining Room Rendering
Cocina 214 is an award-winning contemporary Mexican Kitchen & Bar. The name is a combination of the Spanish word for kitchen, “cocina” and the Dallas area code, “214.” The idea for opening Cocina 214 developed when two of the owners from Texas missed the Tex-Mex and Mexican food they had grown up eating.

They wanted the same authentic, fresh and quality food here in Florida. Cocina 214’s menu combines bold flavors with the freshest local ingredients to create exceptional Tex-Mex – all served in a vibrant, elegant setting.

The first location opened in May of 2011 in Downtown Winter Park. Since it's inception, Cocina 214 has won over 35 awards, including, “Best Mexican Restaurant” and “Best Tex Mex”, among others.

Cocina 214 is known as a vibrant and hip spot for brunch, lunch and dinner with a lively bar that is still approachable and family friendly. The new Daytona Beach location will look to continue that trend and uniquely position itself as the best Tex Mex destination in the heart of Daytona Beach.

Chefs make Cocina dishes twice daily from scratch to ensure the freshness and highest quality dishes. Cocina also offers a variety of vegan and gluten - free options to accommodate the preferences of all its guests.

Bar Rendering
The newest location will be aiming to provide guests with real authentic Tex-Mex, the freshest local ingredients and made from scratch dishes, including homemade tortillas, eclectic salsas, unique sauces,savory tacos, fiery fajitas and famous signature margaritas.

The Daytona Beach location plans to be open from Monday to Sunday from 11 a.m. until midnight.
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Border Grill

5695 Vineland Road
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 352-0101

Border Grill is what some of us might call a “Hole In the Wall” type of restaurant. With so many new restaurant openings over the past few years that have brought Orlando all kinds of great new and shiny dining experiences, it's actually nice to find a place that is very mom and pop and somewhat of a hole in the wall.

Make no mistake though, what Border Grill lacks in size, they make up for in flavor. The menu here is traditional Mexican street food with some Tex-Mex offerings as well. Everything is cooked to order in the open kitchen towards the back of the restaurant with fresh ingredients and fast service with no frills. That is what makes this place so special.

The Taco’s have become famous for those who have already found out about Border Grill. Taco offerings include, carnitas, shredded chicken or beef, seasoned beef tongue, chorizo and of course fish tacos. If tacos aren't your thing, they have a good variety of some pretty awesome burritos and enchiladas and a few other dishes and daily specials.

Chips and salsa are complimentary, but we ordered a side of Guacamole and a side of Queso to get our dinner started.

My guest chose the Trio Tacos with Carnitas. The pork was seasoned wonderfully and was topped with fresh cilantro and diced onions. All combos come with Mexican rice and refried beans.

I really wanted to order tacos, but once I saw Milanesa steak on the menu, I had to order it, as it is one of my favorite things. Milanesa is a thinly cut, breaded and fried steak. The one at Border Grill is topped with fried potatoes and sauteed onions and has now moved into first place for my favorite Milanesa in Orlando. In addition to potatoes and onions, the dish is served with lettuce, tomato, Mexican rice, refried beans and your choice of three corn or flour tortillas.

Sopapillas are popular dessert in a lot of Mexican restaurants. The deep fried pastry is usually served as a dessert, covered with honey or syrup and cinnamon. The sopapilla at Border Fresh is made for at least two people to share and is topped with chocolate sauce, honey, cinnamon and lots of ice cream and is a pretty fantastic dessert.

This unassuming hole in the wall may be located in a suspicious strip mall on Vineland road, but Border Grill may be some of the best authentic Mexican food that I have had outside of Mexico itself. The staff is very friendly and our food was cooked to order and came out pretty fast. Stop by sometime and enjoy one of Orlando’s best “Hole In the Wall” restaurants….you will not be disappointed.

Border Grill Orlando Fresh-Mex Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Cocina 214

151 E. Welbourne Ave, 
Winter Park, FL 32789

Whenever I am thinking about dining out in beautiful Downtown Winter Park, often times Mexican food does not cross my mind. 

There are lots of dining options in that area from upscale to casual, but for some reason I often overlook Cocina 214. I am a big fan of authentic Mexican food and the Americanized Tex-Mex food as well, so I was delighted to attend a new menu preview event for Cocina 214.

What exactly is Cocina 214 you may ask? Cocina is Spanish for Kitchen, and the 214 part comes from the Dallas area code, because the owners, who are from Texas, missed the Tex-Mex and Mexican foods they grew up on. The menu is full of contemporary Mexican and Tex-Mex inspired dishes that combine bold flavors with the freshest local ingredients. Items like Queso Fundido and Guacamole at Cocina 214 may be your average Tex-Mex standard fare, but you will be hard pressed to find Fried Avocado Bites at any other Mexican restaurant in Central Florida.

The same goes with the rest of the menu here too. Items like Snapper Frito Tacos, Truffle and Mushroom Quesadillas, Cauli Frito Tacos and Corn Crusted Mahi are sure to impress the adventurous palate. If you want more traditional, Cocina has that too, with Chicken Tamales, Brisket Quesadilla and an assortment of Tacos and Fajitas.

Fried Avocado Bites are lightly breaded hass avocados fried and served with chipotle cream dipping sauce, and are very delicious. 

The Mango Ceviche features snapper, serrano peppers, red onion, red bell pepper, citrus and mango.

For something a little lighter, Isidro’s Caesar salad is made with romaine lettuce, cotija cheese, fried onions strings, grape tomatoes, homemade croutons and Caesar dressing.

The Mexican Corn is a tasty Aperitivo, or appetizer with grilled corn, cayenne pepper, lime, cotija cheese and queso fresco.

The Dragon Fruit Margarita is sweet and flavorful, and is only available for a limited time. The margarita menu at Cocina 214 features everything from house made specialties to Skinny Ritas and even a “Pop Rocks Rita.”

Enchiladas are served Mexican-style with romaine lettuce, queso fresco, onions, sour cream, grape tomatoes & veggie rice. You can add protein to them such as chicken or beef and you have an option of sauces as well.

Snapper Frito Tacos are traditional Mexican street tacos with lightly fried wild snapper topped with coastal slaw, pico de gallo and a chipotle cream sauce.

For an awesome vegetarian option, the Cauli Frito tacos are lightly fried cauliflower, coastal slaw, red bell peppers and chipotle cream sauce. These tacos were crispy and tasty and had a great taste.

Another item not readily found at most Mexican restaurants, the Snapper Veracruz with wild snapper, tomato, olive, caper, herb topping and veggie rice was quite delightful.

For the burger lover, Maria’s Gourmet Burger is sure to hit the spot. This burger features grilled pineapple on an Angus beef burger, Olde Hearth Bread poppy seed bun, Monterrey jack cheese and is served with grilled Mexican corn.

You can never go wrong with Churros for a sweet ending. The Churros at Cocina 214 come with a dulce de leche dipping sauce and are fantastic.

If you’re looking to dine out in the charming Winter Park Historic District, or want an authentic Tex-Mex dinner, consider Cocina 214 and put it on your radar. This restaurant is perfect for every occasion and you and your guests will be sure to enjoy.

The bar features a happy hour on Monday to Thursday from 4:30pm to 6:30pm with $5 214 Rocks & Frozen margaritas, $3 Draft Beers and $5 Wells

Brunch is served Saturday & Sundays from 11:00am to 3:00pm with $3 Brunch Mimosas

Cocina 214 Restaurant & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Don Julio Mexican Grill & Tequila Bar

551 S Chickasaw Trl
Orlando, FL 32825
(407) 930-3735

Say hello to the newest tenant to occupy the space at 551 South Chickasaw Trail in Orlando.

I say newest tenant simply because, the last business there was Oyster Bay, a place which I reviewed some time ago. Oyster Bay, as its name would imply, specialized in raw oysters and seafood, but more importantly...wings. 

I must admit, I still miss my Caribbean breaded wings, and have yet to find a replacement for them, but I am happy to report that after four visits to Don Julio’s, I really like this place. Don Julio’s is literally in my backyard. I could ride my bike there if I wanted to, and that's why I am so excited that the folks here seem to be getting it right and business is going good for them.

The menu at Don Julio’s is your basic Tex-Mex fare with some authentic Mexican fare on the menu, as well as some house favorites and specialty dishes. You can find a variety of tacos, quesadillas, flautas, enchiladas and burritos for your basic Tex-Mex options. If you want something more authentic, opt for Mexican street tacos with a variety of proteins available.

My personal favorite is the ChoriPollo, which is essentially chicken breasts smothered in chorizo and queso. The ChoriPollo is under the Parrilladas section of the menu, which features various steaks, chicken, pork and seafood all served up in a variety of ways from the grill. Parrillada in spanish means to grill or barbeque.

After four visits, I have been impressed with the consistency and the quality of the food. The service has been exceptional, and the house margarita has never disappointed.

All meals come with complimentary chips and salsa. It's always been good, but sometimes it can be a little on the spicier side.

The table side Guacamole is always a great starter. You can have it made as spicy as you like and have at least six different ingredients you can have added to the mix.

Our Guacamole ready to eat. We like it spicy and full of flavor.

Queso Fundido is a mix of chorizo sausage and melted Mexican cheeses served with sour cream, pico de gallo and flour tortillas. This is a must have appetizer at Don Julio’s.

We have ordered a pitcher of the house made Margarita on at least three occasions, and have never been disappointed. They make these bad boys strong and tasty. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The Carnitas were outstanding chunks of Pork deep fried until crispy, but tender on the inside. Carnitas are served with Mexican rice, sour cream, pico de gallo, rice and beans, and flour tortillas.

For something on the lighter side, Don Julio’s Chef Salad was pretty tasty as well. You can add grilled rib eye steak, chicken or fish to top off your salad.

As I mentioned earlier, the ChoriPollo is delicious, and has become my favorite dish. You can't go wrong by smothering chicken cutlets in chorizo and queso sauce. This meal is served with Mexican rice and flour tortillas so you can make your own ChoriPollo tacos.

The ambiance here is very casual and laid back with plenty of seating inside and outside and a decent sized bar at the front of the house. There are a few T.V’s scattered throughout so you can stay on top of all your sports action. Don Julio Mexican Grill is quickly becoming one of my favorite go to spots for local cuisine, and I would suggest you to stop by and see them soon as well. You will not regret it. 

They do not have a website up yet, but you can check them out on Facebook by clicking here. The restaurant is open from 11:00 am until 10:00 pm most nights.

Click to add a blog post for Don Julio Mexican Grill on Zomato
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