Headed to Tampa tonight to the Straz Theater to see La Cage aux Folles and stopped at Guadalaja Mexican Restaurant for dinner before the show. Loren usually goes through two baskets of chips and salsa here.
For his dinner, he went for the beef fajitas.
He said the beef was tender and tasty. He had some leftovers, but since we weren’t heading right home, we didn’t take them. I went for a beef chimichanga.
It wasn’t very crispy and I didn’t realize it had pico de gallo inside. I’m just not a fan of raw onions & cilantro, so the whole flavor profile was a bit off for me. It’s strange because I ordered this same dish the last time & really liked it, so I’m not sure if they just changed the ingredients or they weren’t as strong the last time. Total bill with a drink was $28.
Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant
4502 W Hillsborough Ave
We decided to try Salsa’s Mexican Restaurant for lunch again today. It’s been a few months, so we were hoping things have gotten better.
Loren said the salsa was better than last time.
He said it still tasted like canned tomato paste as the base, but there were a lot more fresh ingredients in it as well. It’s amazing what some garlic and cilantro can do for a salsa.
He ordered the Speedy Gonzalez lunch which is an enchilada and taco.
Although the taco shell was a bit stale, the rest of it was ok. He said it was better than the last time we ate here. I got a beef chimichanga.
I was actually surprised that it was beef chunks rather than ground beef. The beef was a little chewy, the shell wasn’t crunchy enough and the tomatoes were overripe. The flavors were ok though.
The biggest issue this place has had from the beginning is that the service is lacking. They never come back to your table to check on you. They’ve made a few improvements in the food, but overall, it’s still lacking freshness and attention to detail. I think they give you large drink glasses so they don’t have to come back to your table for refills. It’s a quick, inexpensive Mexican restaurant, but there are definitely better places in the area. Total bill with a drink was $15.
Salsas Mexican Restaurant
3970 Tampa Road
We ate dinner at Hacienda Mexican Grill over on Drew Street tonight. It wasn’t very busy for a Friday night, but I’m all for not having to wait for a table.
They started us off with some chips and salsa.
Loren said the salsa tasted very fresh, though it wasn’t very spicy at all. He ordered the carnitas.
He really enjoyed the dish. Said everything tasted very fresh and flavorful. The pork was very tender. The guacamole had a little kick to it. The rice and beans were standard fare.
I ordered the shrimp chimichanga.
It was rather disappointing. The shrimp tasted as though they had been frozen and quickly defrosted. They just had a taste to them that was not fresh and flavorful. Definitely not good eats.
They had live music tonight, but I’m never sure what the proper etiquette is when they come to your table and play. Should you let your food get cold while you watch and listen or is considered rude to continue eating? Don’t get wrong, they were very good, but I’d just rather not have them focus directly on our table while we’re eating.
Total bill was $24.
Hacienda Mexican Grill
2551 Drew St, Ste 104
Had lunch at Salsa’s in Oldsmar today. This is the second time I’ve eaten here and it’s been busy both times. We started out with some chips and salsa and I ordered the cheese dip.
Loren thought the salsa was very bland. Not spicy at all. He thought maybe it was leftover marinara sauce from the Italian restaurant that used to be in the space. The cheese dip, on the other hand, had a little kick of jalapeno.
He ordered the lunch chicken fajitas and asked the waiter if it came with guacamole. The waiter said yes it did.
If you’ll notice from the photo, there’s no guacamole there. Unfortunately our waiter never returned to our table, so it’s not like we could order some. Both times, I’ve been here, the service has been less than stellar. They take your order, drop off your food, and then they never check back with you until you’re ready for the check.
I ordered the chicken creama.
It’s a rather plain dish, with not a lot of flavor going on. The chicken was tender though. Total lunch with a drink ran us $23.
Salsas Mexican Restaurant
3970 Tampa Road
Salsa’s Mexican Restaurant recently opened up in the space that was once Albertos and then Lonzalos in Oldsmar. I am so happy now to have a Mexican restaurant close to work.
The menu had the typical fare with lunch specials under $10. I went for the shrimp chimichanga which came with rice and beans.
I enjoyed it. It could have been fried a little longer to make it crispier, but the filling was very tasty. It was covered with a white cheese sauce and all mixed together made for a tasty lunch. I forgot to get a photo of my friend’s lunch. She got a combo with a soft taco and chile relleno. She said they tasted good, but didn’t realize the chile relleno had meat as well as cheese in it. She thought it would just be cheese. She also said the salsa was good.
The service wasn’t that great though. Our waiter spoke very softly, so it was difficult to understand him and once he dropped off our food, we didn’t see him again until we were finished. Total was just under $10. I’ll definitely be back to try some of the other dishes.
Salsas Mexican Restaurant
3970 Tampa Road
I hate it when I go to a restaurant specifically because I have a coupon only to find out that they’re no longer accepting them. That’s what happened to us tonight at Caramba’s in Dunedin. The $25 Restaurant.com coupon that I downloaded before we left wasn’t being honored anymore.
The waitress brought chips and salsa to the table and Loren and Alex jumped right in. The salsa at Caramba’s is different from a lot of other places. Loren said it was a bit spicier tonight too.
They both ordered fajitas, one chicken and one beef.
They were ok and had plenty for leftovers. I ordered the Combo #4 which is a burrito and chimichanga with rice and beans.
There was a lot of food on the plate and both items were filled with chicken. I was happy to finally get a chimi that was crispy. Overall the food was ok, nothing stood out and the flavors were relatively bland.
They weren’t very busy for a Friday night, but with only one waitress working the dining room and cash register, the service was pretty slow. She also wasn’t very observant, leaving drinks empty and when we asked for more salsa, she didn’t bring more chips even though the basket was empty.
Total dinner for the three of us was $37.
1840 Drew St
Since Los Mexicanos was closed when we tried to go on Labor Day, we decided to head out there tonight. The first thing we noticed upon walking in the door was how loud it was. On the plus side, it means a lot of people are eating there, however, it was rather difficult to hold a conversation.
They brought out some chips and salsa.
It’s not a chunky salsa, but Loren still enjoyed it. He ordered the steak fajitas.
The waitress brought the pan of fajitas to the table along with my entree. She said she’d be right back with the plate that came with the fajitas. Then she disappeared for awhile. She came back and grabbed his empty drink glass and brought it back, before disappearing into the kitchen one more time to get the plate that goes with the fajitas. We were just sitting there stunned. How hard is it to bring all the food to the table?
The fajita meat was tender, but in tiny strips. We weren’t impressed. I ordered the chicken chimichanga dinner. Since it only came with rice, I also ordered a side of refried beans.
If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times, chimichangas should be crispy on the outside. If they’re not crispy, they’re burritos. These were definitely stuffed full of chicken though. Unfortunately, without the crispy exterior, it just lacked the texture I was craving.
Overall, the entire dining experience was just lacking. Sure, there was plenty of food and I probably brought over a pound of it home as leftovers, but neither the quality of the food, nor the service was worth the $27 bill.
38954 US Hwy 19
Tarpon Springs, FL
Poblano’s is another one of those local places we eat at a lot. It’s close, it’s inexpensive, and we’re usually pretty happy with the food. We’ve been having some issues with the service lately though. I don’t know if they’ve hired new staff or what, but they definitely need some more training.
Loren ordered the Carnitas Verdes.
Tender pork in a tomato based sauce. He enjoyed it. I ordered one shrimp chimichanga with refried beans.
It was really good. The chimichanga was crispy this time (last time I ordered it, it was more like a burrito). It had some queso on it and a layer of onions and peppers on the plate, plus lettuce, guacamole, and sour cream.
Our waitress never came back to check drinks and Loren’s glass was empty for a while. She was really slow about bringing the check and then coming back to take the payment. She had also asked if I wanted rice or the salad with my meal, I said rice, but got the salad. I don’t think it was actually an option. Total meal was $22. We like the food, so we’ll definitely be back, but hopefully the service will improve.
Poblanos Mexican Grill
245 McMullen Booth Road
We learned the hard way that not too many restaurants are open for dinner on the 4th of July. We tried two before we ended up at Asadas Compadres on Gulf to Bay.
We started out with some chips and salsa and an order of guacamole.
Loren liked it. I thought the chips weren’t fresh and the guacamole was too spicy for me. He enjoyed the salsa.
We both ordered tacos, I got the chicken and he got the beef.
Again, he liked it more than I did. I thought the chicken and tortilla had no flavor whatsoever. I admit, I’m not a fan of corn tortillas. I don’t like the texture or flavor. Loren kept telling me that I was supposed to add sauces to it to make it flavorful, but the two sauces brought to our table were way too spicy for me. The total meal was only $17, so their prices are definitely reasonable. I know that I like a rather Americanized version of Mexican food, so perhaps this was just a little too authentic for my tastes.
2801 Gulf to Bay Blvd
Having not satisfied our Mexican food craving from Friday night, we headed out to Los Mayas in Clearwater. This used to be a Los Mariachis, but they changed the name.
Started off with some chips and salsa.
The chips were fresh, warm and crispy. They definitely didn’t taste like they’d been sitting around for too long.
I ordered the Pollo en Crema (Mayan Style).
It didn’t have a lot of flavor, but it was still pretty good. The chicken was cooked with onions and mushrooms and it came with some tortillas and refried beans.
Loren ordered the carnitas.
Plenty of big chunks of fried pork, plus rice, beans, onions, jalepenos, guacamole and tortillas to wrap it all in. He had plenty of leftovers for tomorrow too. For $25, this was much better than what we had Friday night.
1200 Cleveland St
We headed over to Poblanos for a quick lunch today. We’ve been on vacation in Hawaii for the past 10 days and even though we hiked all over the Big Island, we both managed to gain weight, so we decided to split an order of chicken fajitas.
Ok, rather we thought we were going to split an order of chicken fajitas, instead our waitress brought us out steak fajitas. Personally, I don’t think chicken and steak sound anything alike, but since we were in a hurry, we just ate what she brought.
I ended up only eating one fajita because the steak was really tough. Luckily, it came with rice and beans, so I ate some of that instead.
And Loren was happy with chips and salsa.
Total bill was $16 and next time I’ll just have to make sure the waitress reads back our order so we actually get what we ordered.
Poblanos Mexican Grill & Bar
2451 McMullen Booth Road
Seems like the weekends always go by too fast. We looked at the clock and realized it was already 7pm and we hadn’t eaten dinner yet. I suggested some Mexican food at Aunt Chilada’s in Palm Harbor.
We’ve eaten here a few times. Their buffet during the week is pretty good. They started us off with warm tortilla chips and salsa.
Loren was a happy guy. The salsa was flavorful without being overly hot. The fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro were so good he had to get a second bowl of it.
He got the Tacos de Carnitas with rice and beans.
Everywhere else he’s gotten carnitas they come with flour tortillas. They asked if he wanted soft or crunchy tacos here and he went for the crunchy and really enjoyed the change in texture. It came with guacamole and a salsa verde sauce that was pretty spicy.
I ordered the chicken flautas.
Four fresh flautas with a thick shredded chicken filling. It came with rice and beans, plus sour cream and guacamole.
Everything was fresh and flavorful and for $24, a nice ending to a too quick weekend.
34718 US Hwy 19 North
Palm Harbor, FL
We had our Friday lunch meeting in our Conference Room, known to some as the Gulf Coast beaches of Pinellas County. Cathy tells me I’m supposed to take photos of my food. Meh.
So, we got our lunch from the Kooky Coconut (which used to be the Tacky Turtle, for those of you who have been around here for a while). Nice little sandwich and ice cream kinda joint. They carry Working Cow ice cream, which is pretty awesome stuff, but we didn’t have any. They do Cuban sandwiches and other types of sandwiches. Fritz had a Cuban and didn’t like it because it wasn’t “authentic” enough for him. They tried to jazz it up with better mustard, better pickles and fancy cheese. Everybody knows a Cuban is all about plain ol’ mustard and crappy pickles! I think they also buttered the bread, making it kinda greasy. Idunno, I’m not a big fan of Cuban sandwiches, anyway.
They recently expanded to include some Mexican fare on the menu, which is what Ash and I went with. I got chicken tacos, Ash got a beef burrito. Both came with chips and salsa. I went with crispy corn tacos because that’s the way a taco should be. ”Soft tacos” are burritos! The chicken tacos were very good. I got them loaded, which included beans, cheese, black olives, salsa and who knows what else. Nothing spectacular, but the chicken was freshly grilled and well-seasoned, and it put a smile on my face. Ash wasn’t quite as wowed with his burrito, but seemed quite satisfied with it. Looked good to me. It was fat and stuffed with beef, rice, beans and stuff. The chips were not fresh made, nor was the salsa, but they were adequate.
All in all, we all ate for something like $6.95 each plus a drink. There’s no way you can complain about what we got for the price! Oh, and the Kooky Coconut now offers their patrons beach seating in their 6 “key lime green” chairs ON the beach, just inches from the water. Perfect!
760 Gulf Blvd
Indian Rocks Beach, FL
Since we only had breakfast today, we were both hungry for dinner. Loren wanted Mexican food, so we tried Senor Loco’s over on Gulf to Bay. The last time Loren was there, the service was terrible, but we figured they wouldn’t still be open if it hadn’t gotten any better.
They brought chips and salsa to the table and we ordered some bean and cheese dip.
Both the salsa and the bean dip had a little kick to them. Not over the top spicy, but you definitely knew jalepenos had been used.
Loren ordered some steak fajitas.
There was enough that he was able to make 4 fajitas. He said they were pretty good. I ordered a chicken chimichanga.
Maybe I’m just picky, but I expect a chimichanga to be crispy on the outside. This was more like a burrito, just barely dipped in the fryer. It did have a lot of chicken inside though. The beans and rice were typical, nothing overwhelming about them. I do have to say, the tomatoes were really fresh. It’s not often anymore that you get a tomato that actually has flavor.
Overall, there was nothing spectacular about the restaurant. The service was ok, the food was ok, and the total bill was $31.
2680 Gulf to Bay Blvd
That was the plan. Pollo Tropical in Oldsmar at 12:15. But, in Justin’s mind, anything west of Dale Mabry on Hillsborough is Oldsmar… so we ended up waiting for each other at different locations!
We opted to meet in the middle(ish) and eat at Guadalajara instead. Much better choice, in my opinion. This is another of those places with awesome salsa, and if you haven’t noticed, I tend to judge the quality of a Mexican restaurant by their salsa. This is also a locally-owned, non-chain, fairly authentic Mexican restaurant, so the food is pretty good.
Today, I ordered a #13 from their lunch menu, which consisted of a taco, an enchilada, rice and beans. Doesn’t sound like much, but I was surprised at the size of the plate and the amount of food on it for $6.99! I left the rice and ate most of the rest. Oh, and this photo doesn’t do it justice. Poor lighting and a crappy cell phone. But, at least I don’t have to listen to Cathy complain about me not taking a photo this time!
Good authentic Mexican food, complimentary chips and salsa, full lunch and a drink for less than $10. Can’t go wrong with that.
4502 W Hillsborough Ave
Tampa, FL 33614
Mexican food sounded good for dinner tonight, so headed over to Casa Tina’s in Dunedin. It wasn’t very busy tonight which was nice because it can get loud in there when there’s a crowd.
We started out with some chips and salsa.
The salsa is very fresh at Casa Tina’s. Definitely not out of a jar. Loren ordered the Carne Asada.
It came with rice, beans, and a cheese enchilada in a spicy red sauce. Loren said it was yummy.
I ordered the chicken flutes.
This is one of my favorite menu items. It’s two deep fried chicken flutes with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa, plus rice and beans. It has great textures and flavors. Crunchy, yet with a nice smooth, tasty filling.
About half way through our meal, a loud soundtrack came on and there were two acrobats doing some incredible feats in the middle of the dining room. They’re from BB’s Dance & Circus Arts.
We like Casa Tina’s. The food is always fresh and has some wonderful flavors. Two entrees and a drink ran us $31.
365 Main Street
Felt the need for some Mexican food tonight, so we headed over to Carmelita’s on East Bay in Clearwater. I’d been to the one on Ulmerton before, but Loren said he’d been to this one and it was a little closer to home.
He started out with some chips and salsa and I ordered the chili bean dip.
Loren really enjoyed the salsa. Said it had a really good flavor. The chili dip was ok. The cheese was really thin so you ended up with more chili than cheesy dip. I prefer it cheesier myself.
I ordered a chicken chimichanga with rice and beans.
The flavor of the chimi was good, but it wasn’t crispy at all. The two ends had a slight crunch to them, but the rest of it was just plain burrito. They either didn’t fry it long enough or doused it in sauce too early so it got mushy. It also wasn’t a very big chimi either. Not that I needed anymore food, but compared to ones at other restaurants, this one was on the small side. I also kept tasting a smokey flavor and couldn’t figure out what it was until Loren mentioned that his beans tasted smokey. It was an unusual flavor for refried beans. As if they just added some smoke flavoring to them.
Loren ordered some steak fajitas.
The first bite he took of the meat was very tough, but he said the rest was ok. The meat looked a bit well done to me. It wasgrilled with onions, no peppers.
Overall, the meal was ok, but nothing spectacular. Appetizer, two entrees and a drink ran us $30.
Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant
5042 East Bay Drive
Tri City Plaza
We were out geocaching today in Conner Preserve and one of the geocaches was called Cowabunga. It fit in with the California themed restaurant we went to, ZimZari.
They brought chips and salsa to the table and we ordered some guacamole too.
Loren said the salsa tasted like it was out of a jar, but the guac was fresh and tasty. It had chunks of avacado in it and wasn’t spicy, so I ate a bunch of it.
We ordered the tuna tacos and the filet mignon tacos.
I hadn’t expected my tuna tacos to be spicy, but there was definitely something spicy on them. Loren and I ended up eating one of each other’s tacos. He liked the mango that came with mine.
The filet tacos were good. They had crunchy fried onions on them. The rice and beans that came with both were ok.
I needed something sweet so we ordered the California Cannoli.
Now, I’ve eaten a lot of cannoli in my life, but none like this. These had just been taken out of the deep fryer so they were still warm. It had cannoli cream and bananas inside, plus whipped cream and some chocolate sauce to dip them in. They were pretty tasty.
Overall, the food was pretty good for a chain restaurant. It was definitely loud in there though. We spent $30 for an appetizer, two entrees, dessert and a drink.
3230 Little Road
Loren and I constantly play the “where do you want to go for dinner?, I don’t know, where do you want to go to dinner?” game. We finally narrowed it down to Mexican food and decided on Carambas Restaurant in Clearwater.
It’s a small restaurant, but most of the tables were filled when we got there. There was only one waitress, but she seemed to handle things pretty well. First up, some chips and salsa.
The salsa is not your typical tomato salsa, this one was more of a roasted pepper salsa. Loren thoroughly enjoyed it and finished all the chips before our entrees showed up.
I can’t remember the name of what he ordered. It was some sort of skirt steak with rice and beans.
He said the steak itself was nothing to write home about, but when you added the pico de gallo and guacamole, that’s what made the dish. He normally doesn’t eat all of the refried beans when we go out for Mexican food, but he scarfed these down. They had a nice flavor to them.
I ordered the Chicken and Shrimp Mexicano.
It was really tasty. The chicken was so tender and the shrimp were nice and fresh. It was all covered in a tomato/onion/garlic sauce. Not spicy at all which is just the way I like it.
Everything tasted fresh and had great flavors. It took a little time to get our food, but when the result is something that tastes this good, it’s worth the wait. Definitely one of the better $28 meals we’ve had.
1840 Drew St
After going to the 11:30am showing of “Edge of Darkness” (good movie, definitely worth seeing), we were ready for some lunch. Chico’s Wood Fired Grill on Linebaugh offers two-for-one fajitas on Sundays, so off we went.
We didn’t get there until almost 2pm, so they weren’t very busy. It’s nice to be able to eat a quiet lunch. They start you off with some colorful chips and salsa.
We didn’t even need to look at a menu. I ordered the chicken fajitas and Loren got the steak and chicken combo fajitas.
Chico’s makes a pretty good fajita. Fresh and tasty with lots of onions and peppers and all the fixin’s. You can easily get 3-4 fajitas out of the lunch serving.
You just can’t beat this deal, two orders of fajitas and a soda for $16. If you like fajitas this is definitely the place to go on Sundays.
This was the mural above our table:
Chico’s Wood Fired Grill
12217 W Linebaugh Ave