Before I begin exploring the Mexican restaurants in Tampa, Florida for you, let’s get a brief education into what Mexican food is first and foremost. Many people are familiar with this highly popular cuisine; however, there may be some misconceptions that should be corrected. Authentic Mexican food that’s been adapted and Americanized is known as “Tex-Mex” or Texan-Mexican cuisine. These are your standard chain restaurants that serve nachos, which are rarely eaten in Mexico.
The only type of cheese used in tacos, enchiladas, and tostadas in Mexico is panela cheese. True Mexican dishes are corn-based with chiles and herbs, along with beans, tomatoes, and nopales. Meats, garlic, and onion were brought in by the conquistadores to Mexico.
The U.S. states such as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, and parts of Florida and Illinois have a large Mexican population. It is here that a variety of authentic Mexican restaurants can be found. With that being said let’s take a look at the various kinds of Mexican food restaurants which await us here in Tampa, Florida.
4.) Miguel’s Mexican Seafood & Grill – 3035 W. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, Florida (813) 876-2587, Open 7 Days a Week for Lunch and Dinner: On their website’s homepage is a lot of beautiful colors and artwork depicting Mexican culture. It’s colorful logo with a parrot and the bright colors of the building give it that true Mexican aura. For their Lunch Menu they offer the $6.50 specials that include Crispy Tacos, Soft Tacos, and Burritos all served with rice and refried beans. The other Lunch Specialties range in price from $6.50 to $7.99.
The Dinner Menu is quite extensive with Grilled Specials, Miguel’s Favorites, Chimichangas y Burritos, Enchiladas, Tacos, Burritos, Combinados, and Mexican Seafood Platters. Dinner prices do not exceed over $20 (though prices may be subject to change). I’ve eaten at Miguel’s for both lunch and dinner. It does have a real authentic Mexican restaurant atmosphere, even though their menu is a combination of all different types of Mexican cuisine. The food is extremely delicious. I highly recommend Miguel’s Mexican Seafood & Grill.
3.) Chili’s Grill & Bar – 2903 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa, Florida (813) 875-2513: There are various locations throughout Tampa. I listed the one close to Raymond James Stadium due to its central location and popular landmark. This is the classic Tex-Mex restaurant that features Mexican food along with Texas style baby back ribs and other American cuisine such as hamburgers and Buffalo wings. Normally I would not include a chain restaurant in my review articles; however, Chili’s is an exception. I’ve eaten there many times and have enjoyed the food, atmosphere, and service immensely. That to me is a rarity for any kind of chain establishment.
The Southwestern décor adorns each Chili’s with their colorful tile tables. You receive boundless tostada chips and salsa while you wait for your lunch or dinner. The Lunch menu offers a variety of tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches, and salads. For their Fajitas and Quesadillas they offer two new specialties: Fire-Grilled Jalapeno Steak Quesadillas and Fire-Grilled Bacon Ranch Chicken Quesadillas. There is a special going on called the 10 under $7. These are ten designated items that are under $7, simply enough. Look for the big red chili pepper logo above its name. http://www.chilis.com/
2.) Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant – 4502 W. Hillsborough Avenue, Tampa, Florida (813) 879-4096, Closed on Mondays: Based on the variety of mixed reviews from those who are unfamiliar with authentic Mexican food, preferring the Tex-Mex variety, to the ones of who are of Mexican heritage validating this restaurant does indeed serve authentic Mexican food made from scratch that is all home-made. Many have stated in the reviews it is the best Mexican restaurant, not only in Tampa, but throughout the Tampa Bay area.
In the main room there is a gorgeous water fountain, abundant foliage, stained-glass Aztec calendar artwork on the ceiling, and lots of colorful tiles. These authentic Mexican meals include fresh-corn tamales, Oaxaca pork tacos, and refreshing rice-based Horchata beverage. You can even get Coca-Cola imported from Mexico. Highly recommended is their chicken burrito dinner, Suizo Mojado style. You get huge portions, reasonable prices, and very friendly service from this family owned Mexican restaurant that is genuine in every way.
1.) Algusto Mexican Restaurant – 912 W. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, Florida (813) 250-3500, Hours of Operation: Monday – Thursday 11AM-9PM, Friday 11AM-10PM, and Saturday 12PM-10PM: Voted Best of the Bay four years straight, Best of Tampa Bay, City’s Best, Metro’s Best, and Best Guacamole for this authentic Mexican restaurant. Atmosphere-wise this restaurant is located in a shopping center. Inside its colorful interior holds 40 seats with brightly colored booths painted in a raspberry color. They use the finest ingredients in every dish, even their salsa is home made daily from Grandma’s secret recipe. The style of cuisine is from central Mexico and nearby Mexico City.
Appetizers are guacamole, chips, and tostadas along with soups, salads, and side orders. Prices range from $3.95 to $7.95. Sides range from .50 cents to $9.95. Entrees include Burritos, Tostadas, Tampaquena, Algusto Roll, Enchiladas, Tacos, and many more familiar Mexican meals. A basket of chips and salsa is served with every entrée. You’ll find prices from $7.25 to $17.45. Algusto’s also offers a Low-Carb Menu. You can order Mexican beer, Algusto Margarita – which is a non-traditional drink made with wine, Algusto Rice Water, and other standard drinks. Be sure to make room for dessert as they offer flan, both traditional and coconut, Tres Leche Cake, and sweet roll. Come on in and enjoy the best healthiest Mexican food around.
As you can see there is a variety of different types of Mexican restaurants in Tampa, Florida to choose from. There is some authentic Mexican cuisine, Tex-Mex, and a hodge-podge of both. Mexican food is so popular, because it’s delicious, colorful, and best of all, affordable.
Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant – http://tampabay.citysearch.com/review/2676313?reviewId=17106331