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Estelas in Tampa

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  • Dick L. Jan 12, 2004 08:36 AM

Went to the one in Brandon for lunch on Saturday. Everyone had a combo plate of some kind - all execellent.
Even my daughter, the veggie person, found a combo to her liking. Two locations - Davis Islands and Hwy 60 in Brandon.

Link: http://www.estelas.com

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  1. I haven't been too impressed by Estela's. I have found Carmelita's in Clearwater/St. Pete to be much better. They have four locations in Pinellas County: http://www.carmelitas.net/

    ~H.

    1. I love Estela's and don't go often enough. This is where i discovered real mexican food.

      1. Estela's is the only place I've found so far that gives you decent serving of Flan when you order it... I mean, what's with that 3 tablespoon portion that you get everywhere?!

        I've been to the Davis Island location once, and the Brandon location once--- both a few years ago... Embarrassingly I can't remember what I ordered, but I remember the Flan!

        I'm more into Mexican food now---more of a foodie--- so I'll try them again ASAP...

        1. Another great Mexican place is in St. Pete-Red Mesa.
          www.redmesarestaurant.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: HeatherFL

            Yes, i've been to Red Mesa. Loud environment but really good food!

            -----
            Red Mesa Restaurant
            4912 4th St N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33703

          2. I can not understand how it is that people continue to recommend Estela's as GOOD Mexican food, it blows my mind to find that people believe it is representative of Mexican at all.

            Filling portions of canned refried beans doused in white processed cheese, topped with shredded iceberg and a slice of Roma tomato. Rice made with packaged mix. Okay- there's your sides. And the main dishes- pre- shredded chicken and beef kept in steam pans, stuffed into Sysco tortillas then topped with generic taco sauce and aforementioned white process cheese melted in the microwave?

            You call this MEXICAN food?
            Sadly, in the whole of the Tampa Bay area, I have never found anything resembling true food from anywhere in Mexico.

            1 Reply
            1. re: artemisanne

              the mexican girl that took me there seemed to think it was pretty good mexican food, haha. i think it's the same with any ethnic food. you can two people born and raised in mexico and one will say it's awful and the other will say, tastes just like mom's. i can't say that i can compare to to anything but the dish i got was excellent. maybe it's gone downhill since i've been there last??

            2. artemisanne, I was wondering if I was the only one who didn't like Estela's. Glad to know it's not all in my head! What do you like for Mexican? Have you been to Miguel's Mexican Cafe on Kennedy? I tried it once, years ago but honestly don't remember it. Would love to find good Mexican on this side of the bridge.

              2 Replies
              1. re: HeatherFL

                Miguel's is my choice for the closest to a Baja-style authentic on Tampa side and they have good seafood- in St. Pete Carmelitas's I've heard from several including your post is good, however I just never make it to the other side of the bay so I have poor selection. I've had truly wonderful authentic Mexican brought to me from Plant City, but sadly I have no idea where it came from or any way of finding it again. Fresh ground corn tortilla and braised beef with nothing but herbs and lime juice and crushed fresh tomatoes on top. If I ever find out where it was from I will post it here. It was inspirational! I wish there was a good Oaxacan place- I miss good sauces. I also miss fresh vegetables- squash and corn and peppers.

                1. re: HeatherFL

                  I also am not a big fan of Estela's. It's certainly better than Don Pablo's but I have never been overly impressed.
                  Have you been to Algusto's on Kennedy? I like it better than Miguel's. Other than that, I'll take some takeout from the taco bus.... we really need some more good Mexican in Tampa.

                2. I have been to Algusto's. I've heard rave reviews and the girlfriend I went with LOVES it, but I think it wasn't the type of Mexican I am used to. I thought it was fine, but didn't *love* it. I used to live in San Antonio and Los Angeles where good Mexican wasn't so hard to find! Definitely was spoiled. I'm going to have to get back to Carmelita's soon LOL!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: HeatherFL

                    I might have to ride down to Pinellas and try out Carmelita's. At Algusto they have the most awesome flan. It must not be traditional because I am not a flan fan lol. Their's had almost a cheesecake like consistency.
                    I'm not exactly sure what type of Mexican food I like. Everything I have ever had in California I loved and Texas - not so much. I like lots of cilantro, lime, and fresh veggies.

                  2. Carmelita's is amazing. Definitely worth the trip. The food's authentic, the margaritas are prickly and the fried ice cream is not to be missed!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: stetlaw77

                      where is the location closest to the Courtney Campbell of Howard Franklin?

                    2. Oh man, you all are making me hungry! I LOVE Cilantro! I love lime! I love vegetables! And I had forgotten about the fried ice-cream. I need an excuse to get to Clearwater LOL.

                      I think the closest one would be on East Bay Drive. It's in a Publix shopping center that also has a Chili's, Party City and an Office Depot. It's right off of US 19. So you'd take the 60 to Clearwater, then go to US 19 and go South until you hit East Bay (686) -which is not far at all-and hang a right. It will be in that shopping center just on the right hand side. There is also an AMC Movie Theatre close to it.

                      5042 East Bay Drive
                      Clearwater, FL 33764
                      727-524-8226

                      1. I forgot about the Taconazzo- too hasty before- can a person delete their words? eek where am i?

                        1. I am NOT a fan of Estellas at all. I have tried several items on their menu as my boyfriend is a fan thinking that perhaps I ordered "the wrong thing," but my last straw with them was when I realized there was AMERICAN cheese melted in my cheese enchilada. BAD BAD Mexican food.

                          1. I haven't heard about El Taconazo until recently. It's in Seminole Heights, right? Okay, going on the must try list!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: HeatherFL

                              Their food is really good. Heavy on the above mentioned ingredients ; )
                              Also they have wonderful ceviche. My neighbor is on the road a lot for her job and fortunately hits that strip of Hillsborough fairly often and brings us ceviche. I have only eaten "in" once. I prefer to get food to go.

                            2. I also have to say that I do not see why people rave about Estellas. Canned food at high prices. My choice for Mexican is still El Toro Negro in St. Pete. When you go there, there are usually more Mexican eating there than non Mexican. You can't beat the salsa bar and the low prices.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: donh

                                Yes yes yes! I love El Toro Negro too. Since I am not an expert on authentic Mexican, I didn't want to slam Estela's or Carmelita's, but I much prefer El Toro.
                                Let us know, Heather FL and rhnault, what you think!

                              2. donh, thanks! I have never heard of it, so I Googled it and got RAVE reviews on it! I will definitely try it next time I am over that way!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: HeatherFL

                                  Don't expect much as far as decor, It's mostly a bodega/grocery store with a few tables. You can even watch them make thier own tortillas

                                2. Sometimes, those are the best kinds of places! I'm going to try it next week. =)

                                  1. I have mentioned this place before and again, i think it is just fabulous as far as what appears to be traditional Mexicn food goes: Carcineria Don Pedro in Clearwater (countryside area on us19). Liike the place you mention, it is more or less a room off of a small Mexican grocery store. The clientele appears to be almost solely Mexican. The tortillas are fried from batter before your very eyes. A nice selection of tacos and burritos with traditional steak and pork and chicken, lime, cilantro. (Not exactly taco bell). Just the most tasty taco's and burritos I have ever had. Very inexpensive and downhome style. No glunky white cheese or canned refritos here. Plus, they will put anything you want on the tacos, if you like them Anglo-ized (tomato, avocado, onion, salsa, tomatillo sauce and some reall smokin' hot sauce.

                                    1. Wishbugger, I have tried this place and they were not making their tortillas and I asked them if they made theirs and they said no, that you can find what they use in their market. They do make their gorditas which are a corn meal based thick sort of tortilla. I thought the place was good thought a little heavy on the salt. But very good.

                                      1. where on 19 in Countryside is it located??

                                        1. I can't exactly recall. It's in the very corner of a strip mall.

                                          If you want good tacos and a place where they do actually make their tortillas, go to La Cabana del Tio, 1709 Drew Street in Clearwater. It is the real thing.

                                          1. Went to Miguel's for a late lunch yesterday and actually really enjoyed it. I got the India (which is like tostadas) and asked them to substitute corn for flour tortillas. No problem. I also had a cup of the tortilla soup. I think it could have been a bit spicier, but it was good. For dessert, I got the sopapillas which were the closest I've found to the ones I used to eat in San Antonio as a kid. I got my boyfriend a piece of chocolate cake, but he hasn't eaten it yet LOL. I'd recommend it. I wouldn't say it was the best Mexican I've ever had, but it was solid and tasty and the service was really good.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: HeatherFL

                                              One time when we went there I had a really good spinach and shrimp enchilada type dish. I think Miguel's is pretty consistent. Though I think I am going to have to take a trip over the bridge one day this week....

                                            2. Have to say I'm a fan of Estella's but I read the fine print on the menu and ordered my chile rellnos prepared authentic style with white mexican cheese and not the american cheese. I found the sangria tasty and our service telepathic, bringing everything we were just about to ask for...I will go back and review additional items. There are so many arguments on what is "authentic" mexican, and since Tampa lacks a plethora of choice in this cuisine, I found Estellas as close to my many dining experiences in Mexico City and Monterrey than other other local place. I'd definately like to have a bit more cilantro throughout, but overall, no complaints. Also, great touch on the serenades...perfect background without being too loud or annoying.

                                              -----
                                              Mexico City Restaurant
                                              645 Beal Pkwy NW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

                                              1. Having been in Mexico on both coasts and having tried Mexican food in numerous states, the best Mexican restaurant by far in the Tampa Bay area is Casa Tina, on Main St in Dunedin. Their food is always fresh, and their mole sauces are to die for

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: bminfla

                                                  Casa Tina was good when it was Casa Tina... When it became yuppie wine bar it lost it's class... I'll never go back.

                                                2. I also like Estella's for what it is...Not the best but definitely better then Miguel's (Yuck) on Kennedy. I also like Algusto's on Kennedy as well, they appreciate the business and all good food, although not strong (kick). There is a local place to me Vallardes (Anderson AMC) which has decent food for the price. One of my newer favorites is the place on the other side of the causeway (Clearwater) near Joes Crab Shack, I forget the name but its delicious.