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Any California-style Mexican (or tacos al pastor) in Orlando?

Big Bad Voodoo Lou Nov 20, 2010 09:10 PM

My wife always waxes poetic about the amazing Mexican food she's had in Southern California at places like Carlito's and Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen, but every place we've tried in Orlando disappoints her. Granted, most of them are more Tex-Mex, and she just doesn't care for the style -- especially not Tijuana Flats. Paxia in College Park was a letdown for both of us, she isn't a big fan of Garibaldi's, and the smaller places like Chilango's (a favorite of mine) don't capture that California style either. Even California Burrito Express on Colonial doesn't really nail what she remembers so fondly, despite the name.

Does anyone know any good Mexican restaurants we should try? Cali-style would be ideal, but any good recommendations would be welcome. We're in the Seminole County 'burbs, but I don't mind driving a bit for awesome Mexican food. Someplace slightly higher-end for a date night would be ideal.

Meanwhile, I've been dying to try authentic al pastor, either in tacos or some other dish. Most places have their own version of carnitas, but hardly anyone around here does al pastor. Any suggestions? For this, I don't mind little mom and pop places, dives, neighborhood joints.

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    alirn RE: Big Bad Voodoo Lou Nov 21, 2010 06:00 AM

    Hi, Lou,

    I haven't been to this place in several years (we moved from the neighborhood) but Jalapeno's Mexican food used to have al pastor on the menu. I had it a few times and loved it. One caveat: I am a Florida girl born and bred and would not know authentic al pastor if it bit me on the butt, but it WAS seriously good food.

    The place is in a slightly shady neighborhood off Oak Ridge Road. This is definitely not gussied up date night materiel. More like a good neighborhood joint. I'ts frequented by the local Mexican community which I took as a good sign of authenticity. Prices were very reasonable when we went.

    If you decide to try it, post back and let me know if it is still as good. I checked and it looks like they are still in business...

    1. bkhuna RE: Big Bad Voodoo Lou Dec 13, 2010 02:13 AM

      It's not a restauran per se, but there's a truck located in a big vacant lot in Haines City that has authentic al Pastor.

      I don't have an address or a real name because this is indeed, a truck that sells tacos. Not just any taco's mind you, but tacos al pastor carved from the revolving al pastor rotisserie and served on freshly made corn tortillas. I wanted to get a photo of it last time I was there, but every time I pulled out my camera, the cook hightailed it outta' there! What's up with that?

      Head down OBT until you just about hit Haines City and on east side of the road on weekends is a Mexican swap meet. The taco truck is usually on the north side of the big lot, next to the guy selling baby goats and chickens.


      2 Replies
      1. re: bkhuna
        Big Bad Voodoo Lou RE: bkhuna Dec 13, 2010 07:41 AM

        Now THAT sounds like a Chowhound adventure! I don't know when and if I'll ever make it that far out, but I appreciate the heads-up. Great map, too!

        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
          bkhuna RE: Big Bad Voodoo Lou Dec 14, 2010 03:43 AM

          The map is a work in progress. The problem is, the only locations I'll put on the map are places I would return to.

          There are places that get a lot of recommendations, such as Chilango's and California Burrito Express, that don't for one reason or another, meet my standards. They won't go on the map.

          My frame of reference however is Cali-Mex as found in LA, San Diego, and Frontera Baja California. This is why I haven't found one, single fish taco that I would eat a second time. It's not that some of the ones in Florida aren't decent, they just don't taste like the ones I ate in the food stalls of little towns along highway 1 in Baja. My map, my taste. Your milage may vary.

          I continue searching and will update the map as I see fit.

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