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May 26, 2008 06:08 AM

GOOD Mexican food in Tampa Bay???

I'm trying to find a good Mexican restaurant that hasn't diluted its menu with food that has been influenced by other cultures (i.e., Mexican-Cuban or Mexican-Spanish) in an effort to appeal to a broader customer base (since this area is so diverse). Before everyone answers with Carmelita's and/or La Teresita's...I've been to those and others (Miguel's in Tampa and others that I didn't even bother remembering the name of), and they are good in their own right. I thought that I had found a gem in Los Mariachis, both the one on Ulmerton in Largo and the one on Gulf Blvd in St. Pete Beach. The food was OK, the salsa and chips were GREAT, but the service at both locations was horrible, even after going multiple times just in case they were having an 'off' night or were short-staffed. I swore that I would never go back after sitting through an entire meal with no drink.

Suggestions anyone? On a related note, I'm REALLY a fan of salsa that is basically tomatoes, jalapenos, and garlic salt, without cilantro or huge chunks of onions. There's just something about cold (but spicy) salsa and hot chips fresh out of the warmer...Mmmmmm!!

To touch on real Mexican food, I've been to Mexico and spent LOTS of time with friends and (more or less) family there. I also worked in a Mexican restaurant for 10+ years and learned a lot from the guys in the kitchen. This coming week I'm going to El Taconazo, AKA The Taco Bus, for the first time and I've been told by many people that I'm going to love it. I certainly hope so!! Are there any other places that you Hounds would consider good enough to earn the title of authentic?


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  1. Hey delfin1205 - there's already lots of posts about this on the board - I suggest you search for 'Tampa Mexican'. Mi Mexico and Taconazo are the most common places named but you'll find lots of discussion of other places and their authenticity (or lack of it) too.

    1. i could barely choke my food down at carmelitas. i tried it twice and have now officially written it off.
      try el toro negro in kenneth city. pretty legit.
      im anxious to find this taco bus, this is news to me! thanks!

      1 Reply
      1. re: sarahew1

        Algusto's on Kennedy Blvd across from UT(just west of dowtown). My Texas buddies swaer by it, very very fresh mexican.

      2. There's a great little spot on Treasure Island called "The VIP". When you walk in, you'd think you're just in a dive bar, but the food is amazing. Not a jar or can in the kitchen (you can walk in it anytime) everything is fresh, and not a word of English being spoken on the line (not that that's a rarity I guess). The "wet" burritos are a thing of beauty.

          1. Vallarta's is good, they have two locations, one on 56th street, and another on Dale Mabry. There's also Maya's, it's on Fletcher.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cgcollins

              Vallarta's? you're kidding right? Tastes like dog food in a stale tortilla!