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Fogo De Chao

8282 International Dr.
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 370 - 0711
View Website Here






Fogo de Chão... or "Fire In The Ground", is Orlando's newest chain of fine dining full service churrascaria's. They currently have nineteen locations in the United States and seven locations in Brazil.

As with most Brazilian steakhouses, Churrasco is the cooking style. It is the South American style rotisserie in which the meats are  seasoned and cooked over an open flame grill, that owes its origins to the fireside roasts of the gauchos of southern Brazil,  from centuries ago.

 Fogo De Chao, is very similar to Orlando's other well known churrascaria Texas De Brazil.

At Fogo they have a large salad bar as its center piece along with sides of black beans and rice and seasoned potatoes. Just like TDB, for the meat that is brought tableside, a green card signals "YES" and red means "NO".

Your meals will include unlimited sides of fried bananas, fried polenta, mashed potatoes, and of course those little things called - Pão de queijo”--  or Brazilian cheese rolls.

One of the more notable differences is the service. At FDC you do not have one dedicated server. While at both FDC and TDB, different gauchos will bring you an array of meat on a stick, FDC employs an all hands on deck service method. This means you do not have only one server taking your drink orders, refilling your side dishes and taking care of the bill. Any server at any time can assist you with your needs.

Although it took getting used to, I must say the service at FDC was fabulous. We were well taken care of the whole time, albeit by a variety of people.


Inside you will find that Fogo pays a little more homage to the gaucho tradition, with large murals of gauchos roasting meats.








The salad bar at FDC is truly a unique centerpiece of the restaurant. Their bar was good but not as appealing in comparison to TDB.

The black beans and rice were exceptional though!





If wine is your thing, FDC has the wine covered. They have been the recipient of the Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence for eight consecutive years.


 
They feature great wines from all over the world, including some fine Malbecs from Mendoza Valley as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlo.



They also have a very cozy bar located at the front of the restaurant.
 



The sides we had were all very good, except the fried polenta seemed a little soggy.

The Brazilian cheese rolls were delectable bits of warm chewy goodness. 



Now.....Lets get to those glorious cuts of meat on a stick!

The biggest difference between FDC and TDB, I believe, is the quality of the meats they use and the seasoning.

TDB is still really good no doubt, but FDC seems to have more succulent cuts of meat with an extra wow factor in the seasoning. 

Bacon wrapped Filet & Chicken




The bacon wrapped Filet Mignon and the bacon wrapped Chicken Breast were tender, juicy and cooked perfectly.












  
Picanha

The Picanha is the prime part of the sirloin that is cooked to perfection and seasoned with sea salt and garlic.

Most Churrascarias pride themselves on this particular cut of meat and...FDC has a lot to boast about with their Picanha.

I usually prefer red meats cooked to medium or mid-well, but with this meat, if you get a cut of the outside crust which is closer to well done, you will be happy. The flavor is outstanding.

Costela De Porco
   





The Costela De Porco...or Pork Ribs are slow roasted over an open flame and seasoned to perfection.

The ribs were fall of the bone delicious and did not need any sauce to accompany them.

Linguica













The Linguica is a seasoned pork sausage that was very good however, I prefer the chorizo at TDB.










I could go on and on about all the meats we tried but there's just not enough room here.

 Beef Ancho (Prime Rib Eye), Lombo (Parmesan Crusted Pork Filets),  Cordeiro (Leg of Lamb), Fraldinha (Bottom Sirloin)...you get the point.

At some point you have to know when to say NO.....or, Nao Obrigado!!

Although we had absolutely no room for it, since it was my birthday, I splurged.

The Molten Chocolate Cake was richly flavored and went well with a side of espresso.



We had a great time at Fogo De Chao. The service was exceptional and the meat was melt in your mouth delicious.

Pricing at FDC is about the same as TDB ---  around $45.50/person. The pre-set price includes the all you can eat meat-fest with over a dozen different types/cuts of meat with unlimited sides and of course unlimited trips to the salad bar. 

Lunch starts at 12:00 and is only $29.50.

Dinner goes from 5:00 - 10:30 most nights.


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An Exciting Christmas Dinner Idea from Williams-Sonoma


I was recently invited to an open house for one of Orlando's newest communities in Windermere designed by Toll Brothers  called Waterstone.

The idea of the open house was to show off the new community and the awesome kitchens they come with, by partnering up with the great folks at Williams-Sonoma. Since 1956 Williams-Sonoma has been supplying some of the latest and greatest cookware and accessories to America's kitchens.

Waterstone is the last new construction community on the shores of Lake Butler and features quality Toll Brothers designs on 1/2 acre home sites.

All homes come complete with Gourmet kitchens that feature natural gas cooking, granite counter tops, tile backsplash, stainless steel KitchenAid® appliances, and Yorktowne® cabinets with smooth-glide drawers.

Sadly, due to overbooking and a busy holiday schedule, I was not able to attend. The good news is, that I still get to share the great recipes from Williams-Sonoma with everyone. 

Enjoy! 


Pan-Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary and Garlic

*The red wine for the sauce is reduced to concentrate its flavor. To enrich the sauce, you can also add a bit of Dijon mustard*

Ingredients:

  • 1 beef tenderloin roast, 2 1/2 to 3 lb.
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter, cut
      into 1/2-inch pieces

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400ºF.

Let the roast stand at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Set the roast on a clean work surface and lay the rosemary sprigs lengthwise along the roast. Using kitchen twine, tie the rosemary to the roast at 2-inch intervals. Rub the roast with the garlic and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat an oval skillet or large sauté pan over medium-high heat and warm the vegetable oil. Add the roast and brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast, turning the beef occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 125ºF for very rare to rare, 15 to 20 minutes, or until done to your liking. Transfer the roast to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the shallots and wine and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the butter a few pieces at a time, whisking constantly until blended before adding more. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve and season with salt. Keep warm over very low heat, being careful not to boil.

Slice the meat and arrange on a warmed platter. Pass the sauce alongside.
Serves 4 to 6.



Cheesy Potato Gratin

Enriched with two kinds of cheeses, this gratin is easy to prepare, as it does not call for layering the potatoes in a baking dish. Instead, chunks of potatoes are simmered on the stovetop in a fry pan, along with the ingredients for the sauce. Then the gratin is baked in the oven until golden brown and bubbling.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375ºF.

In a 10-inch nonstick fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly stir in the stock and cream. Add the Gruyère and thyme and stir until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and stir to coat them well. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the top is golden brown and bubbling at the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Asparagus With Orange Hollandaise Sauce
Hollandaise, the classic sauce for dressing warm asparagus in France, is usually flavored with lemon. The orange juice used in this recipe is a nice change of pace and goes particularly well with the vegetable.

Keep in mind these few simple tips: Make the sauce over simmering water instead of over direct heat; too much heat will only cook the egg yolk rather than thicken the sauce. A bowl rather than the top pan of a double boiler contributes to a smoother whisking of the sauce. And finally, softened butter blends in more readily than the more commonly used melted butter.

Ingredients:

For the orange hollandaise sauce:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbs. fresh orange juice
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick, at room temperature
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 lb. asparagus spears
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 orange
1 1/2 lb. asparagus spears
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 orange
    • Directions:

      To make the sauce, place the egg yolks and 2 Tbs. of the orange juice in a heatproof bowl or the top pan of a double boiler. Set the bowl or pan over but not touching hot or barely simmering water in a saucepan or the bottom pan of the double boiler. Whisk continuously until warm and just beginning to thicken, about 1 minute. Add the butter 1 slice at a time, whisking until fully absorbed before adding more. When all of the butter is absorbed, continue to whisk until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overcook.

      Remove the bowl or pan from the pan of hot water, and season the sauce with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, stir in as much of the remaining 1 Tbs. orange juice as needed to thin to the desired consistency. You should have about 3/4 cup sauce. Remove the bottom pan from the heat and let the water cool slightly. Then set the bowl or pan with the sauce over the warm water and cover loosely with a paper towel to prevent a skin from forming.

      Cut or break off the tough white ends from the asparagus spears. Trim all the spears to the same length. If the spears are large, use a vegetable peeler to peel away the tough skin, starting 2 inches below the tip.

      Pour water into an asparagus steamer, add the 2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Place the spears, tips up, in the basket and steam just until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

      Remove the asparagus from the steamer and divide among 4 warmed plates, arranging the spears in a row. Spoon the warm hollandaise sauce in a wide stripe across the middle of the asparagus. Using a zester or fine-holed shredder, and holding the orange over each serving, shred a little zest from the orange peel directly over the hollandaise on each serving. Serve immediately

      Tiramisù

      Ingredients:

      • 3/4 cup sugar
      • 1 lb. mascarpone cheese, softened
      • 2 cups chilled heavy cream
      • 2 Tbs. rum
      • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
      • 2 Tbs. plus 2 to 3 cups brewed espresso
      • 5 egg whites
      • 40 to 50 ladyfingers
      • Cocoa powder for dusting

      Directions:

      In a mixing bowl set over a pan of simmering water but not touching the water, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the whisk, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.

      In a chilled large mixing bowl, whisk the cream until stiff peaks form. Add the rum, vanilla and the 2 Tbs. espresso and whisk until smooth.

      In a clean mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. (When the whisk is lifted straight out of the bowl and inverted, the whites should hold their shape.)

      With a rubber spatula, gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the cream until blended and smooth. Add about 1 cup egg whites and fold gently until blended. Add the remaining egg whites and fold gently until the mixture is smooth and blended.

      One at a time, submerge the ladyfingers into the 2 to 3 cups espresso. Lay enough ladyfingers on the bottom of a 6-quart glass or ceramic baking or serving dish (about 2 inches deep) to form a single layer. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers until evenly covered. Arrange another layer of ladyfingers over the mascarpone cream, then spread the remaining mascarpone cream evenly over the top. Dust the tiramisù with cocoa powder to create a rich, dark topping. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day before serving
      .



      All Recipes Courtesy of and Copyright to Willams-Sonoma 2012
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      The Fifth

      112 South Orange Avenue - Orlando, FL
      Phone: 407-826-1932
      Link to the Fifth



      Welcome to THE FIFTH.....

      Recently I was invited by Ilene Lieber at Passion PR Consulting to be a guest of The Fifth restaurant, to sample some food and drinks and share my thoughts on one of downtown Orlando's newest restaurants

      What is the Fifth you ask?

      If you frequent downtown, perhaps you have heard of Vintage Lounge, Vixen Bar and NV Art Bar. The Fifth is the fifth location of the same ownership group of these bars and night clubs which are trying their hand in the restaurant business.

      Once inside you will be the guest of a style filled marriage full of art, sounds, light and more importantly food.

      As soon as you enter, you are enwrapped in gorgeous lighting that constantly changes colors to the pulsating sounds.


      The interior of the place is certainly swanky.
      It gives a nice feel of Manhattan chic and South Beach cool.

      From snakeskin wrapped seats to back lit counter tops and mirrors on every wall, there is certainly a lot of eye candy to wow the senses.

      The bar only serves premium liquors and craft beers along with boutique wines.

      They also have a nice list of premium V specialty cocktails.

      The restaurant also boasts its own package store.

      Here patrons can purchase premium liquors and wines that can be taken home or enjoyed with their meal.



      The best part is, for an additional fee, you can actually rent a wine locker / liquor locker, if you prefer to store your leftover spirits.



      Since The Fifth is as much an upscale lounge as it is a restaurant, we had to sample some drinks.

      My wife had The Greenhouse cocktail and I went with The V Peach cocktail. The drinks were made with fresh quality ingredients as well as premium liquor.

      Both drinks were very good and refreshing, I especially liked the fresh cucumber flavor in the Greenhouse.

      Food at The Fifth was a very big deal to the owners and more importantly to its head chef, Dean Holland from Le Cordon Bleu.

      The menu was one of the toughest decisions for the group to decide on. It took a lot of time and careful consideration to develop the menu they wanted. The idea was to offer something that was different from the normal staple of downtown Orlando, but they also wanted something familiar to the senses.

      What they came up with was a unique and eclectic twist on traditional comfort food served in a an upscale atmosphere with down home tastes.


      We kicked things off with the  White Truffle Potato Chips.

      These are homemade potato chips cooked in truffle oil seasoned with sea salt.

      Our chips were tasty and crispy, with a simple but delicious flavor.

      Definitely good as an appetizer or as a side with your cocktails. 

      Next it was on to the V Hummus.

      The Hummus had a good consistency and great flavors consisting of roasted garlic and shallots, with garlic oil, sweet paprika, roasted red pepper and olives.



      For my main course I chose the Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin.
        
      It is served with a sage rub, topped with an apple and celery slaw, with a side of couscous risotto and finished in a nice marsala sauce. 

      This tenderloin was melt in your mouth goodness. It was cooked perfectly and arrived juicy and tender.  The pork itself had a nice smoky flavor that accompanied the prosciutto very nicely. I would certainly order this again.



      My wife had the Shrimp and Grits.

      It consists of Harissa seasoned black tiger shrimp served atop creamy cheese grits with roasted corn salsa.


      Grits are a risky venture to attempt on any menu, especially with a newer dining concept, but The Fifth has darn good grits. Now, add in some Harissa seasoned shrimp and a corn salsa, and you have magic in your mouth on every bite.

      Harissa is a Tunisian style hot chili sauce or rub that consits mostly of piri piri (type of chili pepper), serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and spices and herbs. The spice of the shrimp and the corn salsa mixed really well with the savory flavor of the cheese grits.


      I really wanted to try the Southern Fried Chicken 'n' Waffles. 

      Although we barely had room, we gave in to temptation when the plate showed up in front of us!  


      House made Belgian waffles, candied bacon, maple syrup, creme anglase...the perfect combination of savory and sweet.

      This was like eating breakfast and dinner all at once. Tender fried chicken cutlets, delicious bacon and a sweet waffle really hit it off. A great rendition of a southern classic.



      All in all....We really enjoyed our experience at The Fifth. It is a welcome addition to downtown.

      They have done a nice job of converting a former convenient store location into a swanky hip spot that is cool in the day time and a hot spot at night.

      The menu is certainly different from anything you will find in downtown Orlando and even Central Florida for that matter, but they execute it very well.

      Whether you are in town for lunch or if you want to slide up to the bar for some cocktails, the Fifth is the spot to go. More importantly, if you want some great food in a great atmosphere, you should swing by. 

      Tastes Of Orlando recommends you try them out for yourself....And be careful not to run into the mirrors!


      The Fifth on Urbanspoon
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      Zaza New Cuban Diner

      3500 Curry Ford Rd
      Orlando FL 32806
      Phone: 407-228-0060

      View Website Here

      On a recent Sunday afternoon, we decided to try Zaza’s New Cuban Diner. The Curry Ford location is the second one they have opened.

      Operating in a former Maryland Fried Chicken store, the location is small with limited seating, but very cozy. The ordering process and food is quite simple and not overcomplicated..nor is it over priced.

      You just walk up to the counter, grab a menu and place your order for here or to go, and a server will bring your food out to you if you decide to eat inside.

      The menu has all the classic pastries and side items like Empanadas, Pappa Rellenas, Crouqettes, and Quesitos. These items are kept hot and ready for you to run in and grab a quick snack.

      Along with all the fried and baked goodies, they also have a nice sandwich selection and a handful of platters to choose from. Zaza also serves breakfast, but we will have to return and do another review on that soon.













      A Quesito is of one of the most popular pastries of Puerto Rico, but its also a popular Spanish pastry in general. I could not reisist wanting to try one, and I was glad I did---it was pretty awesome.

      Zaza's has some of the best Quesito's I have ever had. If you are unfamiliar with what a Quesito is.....Let me explain: It is a flaky pastry dough filled with a cream cheese mixture that gets coated in a sugary caramelized syrup that is baked, and sprinkled with more sugar!

      --You want one now---I know it!













      My wife ordered the Ropa Vieja platter. Ropa Vieja is Spanish for "Old Clothes"

      It's a shredded flank steak that is stewed in a seasoned tomato sauce base. It was very tender and very flavorful. The best part was the bottom of the bowl that we dipped the bread in.

      All platters come with a selection of rices that include: Yellow, White, or Congri (Rice with the black beans and sauce already mixed in.) Along with the rice you also get a choice of tostones or sweet plantains and Cuban bread.
       
      
      One of my favorite Cuban dishes that I frequently order when in Miami, is Vaca Frita.
      Translation: Fried Cow.

      Its really just a flank steak that is seasoned and braised first, then put in the frying pan to crisp it up and topped with onions. My Vavca Frita was muy delicioso!!

      It was seasoned right and served tender with just the right amount of crispiness. I also really enjoyed the sweet plantains and congri.

      Since they are a bakery as well...you can rest assured that the Cuban bread here is delicious. The bread we had was lightly toasted and firm, with just the right amount of butter. You can also buy a loaf to take home with you!


      After we finished our meal we still had a little left over. It was the perfect lunch portion for a boring Monday.

      I can honestly say that this is some of the best Cuban food I have found in Orlando. It compares pretty closely to what I have gotten in Miami at some of the best rated Cuban restaurants.

      My wife and I were pleasantly surprised at how good the food is at Zaza's and even more surprised at how affordable it is.

      Two Quesito's, Two full Platters, Two Drinks...$24.99 That's a good deal for some great food! If you are in the area, Tastes Of Orlando recommends you stop buy and pick up some Quesitos and coffee to go, or have a seat and try some really good Cuban food!


      Zaza New Cuban Diner, Curry Ford Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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      Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar

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



      Hours vary from:
      11:00 am until 2:00 am 
      (See  Website for details)


      As soon as we arrived to restaurant row's newest hot spot,  Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar...I instantly felt I had arrived at an upscale version of the bar from the movie "From Dusk til Dawn".


      Do you remember that movie with George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino? Its 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.

      The only thing that would have made our experience better is if Salma Hayek playing the part of Santánico Pandemonium would have been our server. I must admit though, Michelle our server did an awesome job! She was very quick and very knowledgeable.

      Rocco's is  new to the Orlando area, but they have been in business for around six years. Owner Rocco Mangel opened his first location in West Palm Beach in 2007,  and and has had quite a good following with a total of four stores opening since then. 

      The Orlando location is still in its infancy, but we had a really good time and good food on our Sunday night visit.

      The idea behind Rocco's is to create a fun and exciting place to unwind and have a relaxing time in a casual, but upscale environment. The menu is built around a lot of classic Tex-Mex dishes, as well as some more authentic offerings. Whether you are young or old..trendy and cool, or are just looking for a fun place with good eats Rocco's is sure to hit the spot.

      Rocco's other claim to fame aside from the food is the Tequila Bar.

      Rocco himself has scoured the globe and has visited Mexico more than 20 times. 

      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...if you got some money to burn, they have a shot of "1800 Colecion Anejo" for a mere $250.00 That's right-- A SINGLE SHOT FOR $250.00 

      Our budget afforded us the house margaritas and a shot of Rocco's very own Milagro Bar Select Tequila that he has a hand in manufacturing

      The house margaritas are made with their own  special homemade sour mix that gives them a nice clean and smooth taste.


      To begin our meal- we started with chips and salsa, which cost $3.00

      The chips are lightly seasoned and were  tasty to eat by themselves. The salsa was pretty good also.

       No visit to Rocco's should be without Guacamole. If you like Guacamole this is some good guac!

       They use Haas avocados and prepare it fresh tabel side.


      You can have it as hot or as mild as you like with a variety of ingredients like:

      Jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, and tomatoes

      I personally am not a huge fan of Ceviche, but my wife is.

      She loved the Ceviche and insisted I try some. It was actually pretty darn good.

      The citrus marinade really took away any fishy flavor and the dish was refreshing.




      For my main entree I ordered the Yucatan Combination platter.

      It comes with 2 skirt steak tacos and a chicken enchilada.

      The skirt steak was flavorfully marinated and very tender--the tacos just melted in my mouth. The enchilada was good also, but paled in comparison to the tacos.


      My wife decided to try out the California Fish Tacos. These tacos were awesome.

      The plate comes with 3 tacos filled  with lightly battered and fried Mahi-Mahi.

       It is then topped off  with avocado ranch, cabbage slaw, and even a few mangos to sweeten the deal.

      Believe me when I tell you---these tacos were delicious. The fish was light and crispy and all of the toppings combined for a great flavor explosion in my mouth. I think I know what I'm getting on my next visit!

      All tacos can be ordered soft or crunchy. You can also get traditional soft corn tortillas as well like my wife did.

      When its all said and done, you may spend a few more bucks at Rocco's compared to a traditional Tex-Mexery, especially if you get Senor Tequila involved, but the experience alone will make up for it. Tastes Of Orlando really recommends you try them out for yourself!

      There is good news though-- If you are on a tight budget or just want better than Taco Bell when you get the urge...They also have a taco takeout area that is open late most nights. Just tacos on the menu are reasonably priced starting at $2.95ea up to $4.95ea for shrimp tacos. 

       

      You may not have to fight off the vampires at Rocco's... but I have been told that Rocco himself likes to show up randomly and start pouring shots of Patron freely--all while dressed in white patent leather shoes donning a sombrero and a whistle!

      Tequila can make people do strange things...Beware!


      Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon



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