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Jul 23, 2005 09:56 AM

Authentic Mexican Orlando

  • m

I am looking for an authentic mexican restaurant in Orlando or Seminole County. Anybody?

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  1. There are several. These are authentic Mexican, NOT Tex-Mex.
    My favorites in order of enjoyment, are Taquitos Jalisco, with two locations in West Orange County and the MetroWest area.
    I like Garibaldi Square, also two locations. One near Apopka and the other at Colonial and Semoran.
    IN Seminole, I favor the Mexico Grill on Semoran west of I-4 in the Forest City area. Try the charro beans.
    And on SR 434 in Longwood, there is Macarena Grill. Mama makes fresh tamales sometimes 2-3 times a day.
    If you go to Kissimmee, try Azteca. A brightly painted converted house just north of downtown. Very authentic. Have the menudo.


    10 Replies
    1. re: Bob Mervine

      I have to keep voting for Taquitos Jaliscos. I've moved 100 miles away to the Gainesville area but I drive down at least once a month to eat there - it's THAT incredible! Especially the shrimp!

      1. re: Bob Mervine

        Howdy..we moved from colorado to orlando in 1996, and had a heck of a time finding a place...PR's, Pacos, Taqueria Quetalcotl, and Don Pablos were the only things recognized by local folk as being good "authentic" Mexican food. We passed by Garibaldi's for years, because we thought 1. It was Italian and 2. No one who had recommended the other places recommended or mentioned Garibaldi' essentially we stopped eating Mexican food for a few years...until someone said, hey Garibaldi;s is Mexican. Still a great place..we have been going there for years now. Does anyone here know the name of a new Mexican place on Semoran, down around Curry Ford,,,,authentic, no one speaks english and the food was excellent, and very inexpensive. Also, a new place near the corner of Colonial on Bennett, sort of behind the chicken place. A good meal, larger than it looks from the outside, and accommodating owners, though not very busy as it is so new.

        As an aside we visited Pacos to see if it had gotten any better in ten years. The tell is that, with the increase in the population of Mexican immigrants to the southeast, there were none to be found eating here, though the place was packed, with bubbas to the max.(I am one so I can say that)...our meal was horrible...couldnt eat it ...dry.....I wont be back and cant recommend it.

        1. re: ahfirefly

          Are you talking about the little Mexican place in the strip mall where Las Americanas Supermarket is located? We just discovered the little pupusaria a few doors down and are heading to the Mexican joint soon.

          Review to follow.

          1. re: ahfirefly

            if you are thinking of the place over on semoran near the strip bars...that is one of the betos locations...and they rock all...oh and they are open 24/7!

          2. re: Bob Mervine

            I think Garibaldis has a new location on the south side-by the Florida Mall, in front of the Target Shopping Center

            1. re: katygirl

              You are correct Katy and I heard it was equally good.

              1. re: katygirl

                garibaldis is at te corner of semoran and colonial near some fan place...they are yummy

              2. re: Bob Mervine

                Sorry to revive a dead thread but since this is where I found the recommendations I will reply to this.

                Bob, after having tried Garibaldi off Semoran and being utterly disappointed with the recommendation that it was authentic much less good, I took a gamble and tried Taquitos Jalisco based on your recommendation and I must say... two different worlds.

                Taquitos Jalisco happens to be the most authentic and flavorful Mexican restaurant I have been to in the state of Florida (Went to the one off 535 and 50, West Orange County). I was born and raised in Miami and I have had a fair share of the TriCounty area Mexican food (my favorite down there being Donna Raquel's) but it paled in comparison to Taquitos Jalisco.

                I highly recommend the taco lingua y el taco chorizo en una tortilla de maiz con todo. Their salsa albeit a bit runny was 100% fresh and rightly unapologetic about their heavy use of cilantro.

                  1. re: skuzzy

                    Girabaldi's seems to be having some issues lately with cooks and service.

                    Even some of my friends who are very loyal have mentioned it hasn't been up to snuff lately.

                1. Can't leave Beto's off this list. Two locations, original at Semoran and 17-92, in the Bed and bath strip mall and the other on the South Orange Blossom Trail. Open 24/7, serving cheap, huge portions of everything from fish tacos to 8-inch carnitas tortas, topped with lettuce and guacamole. The dining room has two sauces plus fresh pico de gallo and carrot/jalapeno salad. Authentic Mexican fruit soft drinks, if that's your thing. Their carne asada fries, a plate of freshly-fried potatoes topped with marinated, griled steak chunks, grilled onions, guac and sour cream. Hit that baby with freshly squeezed lime, some salsa verde and I'll bet you can't clean the mound of food off that 10-inch plate.


                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Bob Mervine
                    Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                    I live near Beto's on 436 and 17-92 and have never tried it for whatever reason. I'm going to have to check them out! Thank you, Bob.

                    I also drive past that brightly-colored Azteca house on my way home from work in downtown Kissimmee every day. One of these days... I wish my friends were more adventurous eaters, though!

                    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                      Just don't do them both in the same week, or you'll be paying a plumber!


                    2. re: Bob Mervine

                      Tried Beto's the other day (per Bob Mervine's recommendation from his book Orlando Chow--which I love BTW). Great food & EXTREMELY cheap (I over-ordered because prices were so low). Could only eat 1/2 of my chicken burrito and was stuffed. Came with small containters of hot sauces that perfectly satisfied my pregnant craving for anything spicy. Definitely recommend it--thanks Bob! :o) Oh, I went through the take out window so I can't comment on dine-in experience.

                      1. re: Mish

                        I warned you about over-ordering in the book! I did it twice.
                        Inside the Altamonte location (they also have one on the South Orange Blossom Trail), things have improved. Overall, the place is cleaner, there are a few decorations and new paint and a few less point-of-sale sign-up applications for buying time share or a fitness center membership. Their signage has changed to add photos of some of the items, and occasionally I'll notice a small price increase on an item.
                        They moved the condiments out into the center of the room, so, most importantly, you missed the luscious carrot/jalapeno salad and the fresh pico de gallo.


                        1. re: Mish

                          Where does one get this book?

                          1. re: Mary

                            Ordered the book on after another chowhound posted the link below (a review on the book). The day it arrived I dug right in and didn't put it down until I was done. He touched on many places that I never heard of (I've lived in Orlando 7 yrs) and a long list of places I'm now dying to try...just have to wait for those babysitter nights before I can! Enjoy--I certainly have!


                        2. re: Bob Mervine
                          Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                          A friend just brought me to another great Mexican place in Orlando (Winter Park, actually): Paco's, which is on Fairbanks right near the I-4 exit. It's a tiny little hole-in-the-wall, down the street from all the chain restaurants along 17-92. Delicious food, and the place smelled fantastic as soon as we went in. I ordered a chili-chimi, this huge chimichanga smothered in spicy red chili con carne, melted cheese, and sliced jalapenos. My friend got a beautiful-looking enchilada, but I didn't pay too close attention because I was so enraptured by what I ordered. For dessert, we split a delicious hot apple-cinnamon chimichanga a la mode. The prices were quite affordable, the portions were big, and I was incredibly impressed. I still haven't been to Beto's yet, but Paco's was the best Mexican meal I've had since moving to the Orlando area this past December.

                          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou


                            It's Tex-Mex, primarily however.

                            Great quesidillas.


                            1. re: Bob Mervine

                              thank gawd someone else on hear sings the praises of betos!!! thank you bob...thank you.

                            2. Just tried PR's in Lake Mary tonight. I have one word for the food--YUCK. Queso dip tasted like velveeta with salsa mixed in. Salsa was edible but nothing special. The waitress convinced me to try their blackened chicken funitos or funudos or something like that...anyway it had cream cheese in it (which sent up red flags right away) but the waitress convinced me it was their most popular item and claimed it was awesome. I took two bites of it and my stomach lurched. It was disgusting. Even the lemonade was watered down. I won't go back to that place ever again.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Mish

                                You know, ten years ago there was no answer to your question. Orlando was in love with Tex-mex and the choices in the "Best of..." contests showed it. Back then, you could open a place like Don Pablo's and make money. There still are those who don't know better, but thankfully, times are changing.

                                I started driving west to Orlando years ago to visit Garibaldis on a frequent basis. Rons's LA Taco, one of the best there's ever been failed because not enough people could relate to Cal-Mex. Now, there are good small places all over town that serve good food. Some are better than others, but they all do a decent job.

                                It's nice to have choices in Orlando. By the way, the boom seems to have coincided with the opening of the Mexican Consulate a couple of years back.

                                1. re: Mike

                                  Ron's LA Taco was one of the first authentic tacqueria's in Orlando. When I moved back to the area from San Diego, I wept uncontrollably for months on end until I found it and Girabaldi. I even drove to Mt. Dora a few times after Ron moved, but now, with so much good stuff all around, there’s no need for the road trip.

                                  Now, you can't swing a dead gato by the tail without hitting a decent place to get real Mexican food.

                                  Viva la reconquista!

                                  1. re: bkhuna

                                    Hey bkhuna, does Ron have a place in Mt Dora and if so what is the name. I loved his place near Bumby on Colonial...fond memories!!!!!!!!!!

                                    1. re: theflytyr

                                      After he disappeared from Orlando, he opened a little place in Mr. Dora. It's been at least 4 years since I was there. It was in a converted gas station and I think it sat on the corner or 46 and 441.

                                      I doubt it's even there any longer :(

                              2. Bob,

                                Thank you for all your helpful suggestions on this board -- we're heading off to Orlando this December for our WDW vacation and I've been reading as many of your Orlando suggestionis as I can. Unlike our recent visits, we'll be staying "off-site" this time with a car. I'm originally from southern California but have been living in Iowa for many years. I've been craving baja style fish tacos recently and would love to know if there is some place near WDW for good baja/Cal-Mex type of fish tacos? We'll be staying at Cypress Pointe Resort on Treasure Cay Ln and visiting the various Disney parks. We have a 2 year old and would prefer not to drive more than 15 or 20 miles for food. Does any of the Mexican restaurant options you recommend on this thread serve fish tacos, particularly the type I'm envisioning? It sounds like Beto's might work, but Altamonte is farther than I'd like to travel; I looked up the South Orange Blossom Trail location on google maps and that looks doable. But on another thread you mentioned that location is in a rough part of town -- is that restaurant location one where we wouldn't want to bring a two year old in for a sit down meal?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Scotch

                                  I lived in San Diego for many years and spent many weekends in Ensenada and points south. In spite of what you here on the board, an no offense to those who have made recommendation, the fish taco offerings in Orlando aren't up to SoCal standards.

                                  Good, yes. But will they meet your requirements? Maybe, maybe not. Must be the lack of shark.

                                2. You'll be fine on the SOBT, unless you go late at night and act foolish. They do make great Baja-style fish tacos.

                                  Houlihan's, believe it or not, also does a pretty good version. There's on on I-Drive (9150 International Dr, Orlando, 32819 - (407) 363-0043) that isn't too far a trek.

                                  Another local chain called baja Burrito does a pretty good version, but none on that end of town that I can find on Google.

                                  Hope that helps.


                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Bob Mervine

                                    Thanks for the quick reply, Bob. I did find Baja Burrito during my research but was disappointed to find they were all located farther than we'd care to travel. How does Houlihan's version compare with Beto's? (I assume it is much pricier.)

                                    1. re: Scotch

                                      Much pricier and less authentic. The chain thing, you know.

                                      But maybe a 2-year-old would have a better experience at Houlihan's.

                                      I'd make the journey to Beto's if it were me.