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Showing posts with label Tex Mex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tex Mex. Show all posts

Taco Maker Mexican Grill

7790 Lake Underhill Rd.
Unit 105
Orlando, FL 32825
(407) 930-0496
View Website Here

And… we have yet another entrant into the Taco Craze currently erupting in Central Florida. More tacos, more Tex-Mex the more the merrier as some would say, maybe others are tired of it, but either way, Tacos are here to stay.... for now.

With more than 100 franchise restaurants in Puerto Rico, the Taco Maker brand has expanded into the U.S. with their concept of made to order Mexican with the introduction of Taco Maker Mexican Grill in 2014. With more than 70 franchises now sold, the team at Frans Global – who acquired the Taco Maker brand in 2006 has made its way to Orlando.

Whether it’s tacos, burritos, fajitas or dessert, the food is served fresh and with passion. The menus are full of savory and customizable Mexican food options to fit any taste and any diet. Taco Maker features beef and chicken fajitas and fresh made on site guacamole, tortillas and chips as well as fresh made sauces with over 20 fresh ingredients to choose from. 

Inside is pretty open and spacious. Guests walk up, place their order and customize it as they go through the line and seat themselves, Fast-Casual at its core. 

Guests have a variety of toppings and options to fully customize their orders as they go through the line.

Mexican Grill Bowl with seasoned ground beef and Mexican rice and a Jarritos Lime soda.

A Quesadilla Platter.

This is a taco salad that is fully customizable and served in a house made deep fried tortilla. This was filled with Chicken Criollo. Proteins available here are Ground Beef, Chicken Criollo, Steak Fajita, Chicken Fajita or Pork Carnitas.

A Taco Trio Platter with Chicken, Carnitas and Ground Beef with black beans, chips and Mexican rice.

The Grande Platter I ordered came with a taco and a burrito, so I got the burrito stuffed with carnitas, and went with the ground beef for the taco. The carnitas were very flavorful and really good for a fast casual place, but they do make it everyday in house. 

The Apple or Cherry Pies are deep fried tortillas with apple or cherry filling and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon...what’s not to like?

Of course the Nutella Cheesecake Pie is pretty much a game changer. This is a deep fried flour tortilla with cheesecake and Nutella filling and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. They also serve Rellenitas XL, which is basically a quesadilla filled with nutella and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

Overall, we really enjoyed Taco Maker. The prices are very affordable, a combo is about $9.00 here, and that includes a drink. For the freshness of the food and ease of ordering, I personally don't mind another taco spot in Orlando, as long as it’s decent food and they are not trying to hop on another food trend like some local establishments.

They have another location in Central Florida as well, at 9924 Universal Blvd.
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Cafe Rio


1040 N Orlando Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789
(321) 422-2099
View Website Here


Cafe Rio is yet another entrant into the Fast Casual market, and of course the ever growing Taco Craze that is currently consuming Central Florida. 

Much like it’s competitors, you walk in, order a bowl, a burrito, tacos, salads or tostadas, and you pick the meats, toppings, sauces and sides while everything is put together as you go, you pay, then seat yourself and dig in. 

Cafe Rio Mexican Grill, is a fast casual restaurant chain based in Salt Lake City Utah, with branches in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

The Brand’s recipes are inspired from the traditional cooking styles of the Rio Grande region of Northern Mexico, Southern Texas and New Mexico. The Winter park Location is the first one in Florida.

The first thing you see when you start your order at Cafe Rio is a tortilla maker rolling freshly made dough and placing it on the comal. An essential tool in traditional Mexican cuisine for over five hundred years, the comal is what gives the tortillas their rich, deep and nutty flavor.

Cafe Rio makes their signature sauces, salsas, dressings and toppings fresh every morning, hand slicing fresh chiles, vegetables and fruits and mixing them with a blend of secret spices. From mild to “I can’t feel my tongue” hot, they have the fresh, flavorful kick for your favorite meal.

Options for ordering at Cafe Rio include, Burritos, Salads, Tacos, Enchiladas, Quesadillas, Tostadas, Nachos, Chips & Salsa, Queso, Guacamole, Tortilla Soups and a small selection of desserts.


Everything you order at Cafe Rio can be customized…Proteins, Toppings, Sauces, Beans, Etc… can all be customized after choosing your base.

We ordered an appetizer of Chips with salsa and queso and a side of the Cilantro Ranch as well as a side of Tomatillo. The queso was really good with a little heat to it.

Two Enchiladas, one with Shredded Chicken, one with Fire Roasted Chicken. Really enjoyed both, but of course the fire roasted version stole the show, but the black beans and the rice were quite tasty also.

Cafe Rio is almost as famous for their house made drinks as they are for the freshmade food. I was really impressed with the horchata and the fresh squeezed mint limeade. (I couldn't help but think that the limeade would have been dangerous with a shot of Vodka in it...We almost asked to take a gallon home!)

Two Tacos at Cafe RIo... one with Sweet Pork Barbacoa and another with Fire Roasted Steak served on house made tortillas. Both were really good, but the sweet Pork Barbacoa is ridiculously delicious.

Folks, this is indeed a Big Ass Burrito. We ordered it with the Chile Beef and topped it with enchilada sauce and extra cheese then had it baked for the win. It was large and in charge, and really good.

Here is a shot of the menu, to give you a better idea of how the ordering process goes at Cafe Rio.

There is a decent amount of seating available inside here, but they do have a nice little side patio area with umbrellas as well for additional seating.

Each day at Cafe Rio begins with a delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables, right from the farm. They hand squeeze over a thousand limes, hand scoop over a thousand avocados and they cook or grill all of their proteins and meats on site every day and prepare all the sauces, salsas and desserts fresh daily.

We really liked Cafe Rio, and think you will too. Sure, there is an ever growing taco craze going on in Central Florida right now, but what's not to love about even more tacos, burritos, enchiladas and nachos? If you are anything like me, you could probably eat TEx-Mex/Mexican food almost everyday of the week.

Cafe Rio is open everyday from 10:30 am until 10:00 pm, except Sunday, as they are open from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm.


Cafe Rio Mexican Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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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 importantly...to 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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Tijuana Flats Unveils a "Secret Menu"


4698 Gardens Park Blvd. 
Ste. 101
Orlando, FL 32839
(All Locations)
View Website Here


Tijuana Flats, the Tex-Mex American restaurant chain that was an innovator in fast casual Tex-Mex cuisine has introduced a “Secret Menu.”

Of course now that you are reading this, it may not be such a big secret anymore, but you will have to ask for the items when you place your order, as they will not be listed on any menu.

With over 135 locations throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Indiana, Tijuana Flats restaurants are fast-casual hybrids with fresh food, hot sauce bars, art murals and off-beat culture. Customers order at the front counter and are served after sitting.

The restaurant was founded in Winter Park, FL in 1995 by University of Central Florida graduate Brian Wheeler with $20,000 in loans. The company had 18 locations before expanding out of state in 2004. 

Of course if you live anywhere in Central Florida, and you love Tex-Mex cuisine, you should be very familiar with Tijuana Flats.

The Mexican Pizza is sometimes featured as a special during certain times of the year, but it will now also be part of the secret menu permanently. Its pretty tasty too with blackened chicken, jalapenos lettuce and tomatoes with a sour cream drizzle over a baked tortilla. 

The Double Stack is back, of course on the hidden menu only. You can have it with chicken or steak and they take a crunchy taco and fill it to your liking, then take a queso smothered soft shell and wrap it around. You can choose to have it served with rice and beans or chips.

The Bangin Chicken Tostadas were really good also. These are covered with crispy fried chicken pieces tossed in a buffalo sauce with refried beans, tomatoes, lots of cheese, and a drizzle or ranch. This item as well as the pizza on the secret menu are great to share. 

The Cookie Dough Flautas are always on the regular menu at Tijuana Flats, and it’s no secret, these are some of my favorite dessert treats anywhere. Fresh oooey and goooey cookie dough center that is deep fried in a flauta served with chocolate dipping sauce.

So there you have it, a few not so new items, but definitely really tasty treats you can get your hands on at your nearest Tijuana Flats location. We tried these items at the newest location by the Mall at Millenia, but this secret menu is available at all locations.


Tijuana Flats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Pepe's Cantina

120 West Church St
Orlando, FL 32801
407-730-2341


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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Cocina 214 Set to Open Second Location in Daytona Beach

357 S. Atlantic Ave.
Daytona Beach, FL.
32118
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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Cocina 214

151 E. Welbourne Ave, 
Winter Park, FL 32789
407-790-7997


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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