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Malena's Mexican (Tampa)

Off Fletcher near USF, Malena's was rec'd by a local blog, Eating Tampa. Since I work at USF, I really wanted to like it. I thought this place was lousy. I knew something was amiss when I tried the beans---- watery, no flavor. There wasn't much flavor to be found anywhere. Rice was blah. The enchiladas had very little actual chicken inside, with the red sauce dried onto the tortillas with little flavor. The green sauce was much more flavorful, but still didn't touch taconazo's. The tamale with green sauce was decent, but with red it tasted only of corn. My companions had ho-hum quesedillas (with very little actual cheese) and my normally ravenous friend left most of his fajita plate untouched. The meat was dried out and the sides totally forgettable. Malena's may pass in north Tampa, but I won't go back. It wasn't gross, it was just totally uninspired. Taconazo is still the best bet, especially with some recent improvements under the new owner.

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  1. Thanks for saving me a trip out there and my husband being upset with me lol. I had read the review you referred to and was considering it.

    1. I went once to El Pueblo Chico on Fletcher, approximately across from Lai Thai and thought it was almost as good at La Cabana del Tio in Clw, but much more convenient.

      1. Thanks Andy, I've visited many places you have recommended here on CH (you're like my Tampa food guru) so I respect your opinion. I don't even pay attention (or read) that other blog anymore since it just seemed to be off. I don't need someone else to link me to food related articles and just never cared for the places they recommend. But then we all have different taste when it comes to food:-) Thanks for the heads up or thumbs down on Malena.

        1. I tried the burrito and the torta...personally I loved the torta, I haven't had a good one in years since my favorite hole in the wall mexican restaurant was bought out, so that was a relief to me! And the burritos are different but enjoyable. I've gone back a couple times and have recommended it to others that have liked it as well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cgcollins

            (Went to Malena's today after walking into Golden Dynasty and being hit with an unpleasant odor. But it was full of Chinese patrons.)
            Malena's garbage-bag plastic over the wooden tables was odd and doesn't seem to help with cleaning. Perhaps they should invest in glass or lucite tabel toppers like many Asian restaurants seem to have. The food did seem fresh and the sopes I got were beautiful. The soft tacos were good, although the meat on the al pastor was a bit dry. Overall, it was fresh but bland- needs plenty of hot sauce- but it took care of the taco craving I had after a less than great experience at Mema's on Wednesday night.

          2. I think you must have gotten some bad beans, Andy. I've never had watery beans there.

            While Malena's might not be the greatest TexMex ever, I'm sticking with it being as good as Taconazo. The torta is better.

            Have you tried Maya's? It's just down the road, and for my money better than both.

            (Sorry you didn't like the site, Foggy! As you say, we all have different tastes).

            4 Replies
            1. re: DaveEatingTampa

              Could you be more specific with the location of Maya? Is there a noticeable regional bent to the menu? Thanks.

              1. re: Agent Orange

                Maya's is at 1428 E. Fletcher. I am not really sure why Dave sees it as better than Taconazo. I really didn't like anything about my meal (salsa, chips, horchatta, al pastor, tortillas). If Maya's is better than Malena's, you can be sure I will be staying away from Malena's. It does seem like there are some more Mexican restaurants on this strip of Fletcher that we should explore.

                1. re: CFishman

                  I just can't see Malena's being in the same league as Taconazo. I'd try it again, but i just can't bring myself to do ity after my first meal there. It would be great if we had something as good/better than Taconazo nearby, but in my mind, Malena's is not it.

                  1. re: CFishman

                    LOVE Mayas!