El Jardin Restaurant & Catering

Carnitas torta with salad
Appetizer combo

***** (5 stars)

Really good family Mexican restaurant in a shopping center. The service is terrific and the food is good. The lunch carnitas torta was huge and came with a delicious salad option rather than rice and beans or fries. Great blue cheese dressing. The appetizer sampler is also a nice variety. Very reasonable.

El Jardin Restaurant & Catering
1119 S Main St
Manteca, CA
(209) 825-8552

La Bamba Mexican and Spanish Restaurant

Lunch quesadilla

***** (5 stars)

This place was a delightful surprise. The interior decor is colorful and festive, and the food is top notch.

We started with cheese nachos, a simple preparation with lots of jalapenos that was just what we were looking for.

I had the La Bamba combination, which included a beef taco, chicken enchilada, and chile relleno, plus rice and beans. The standout was the taco, which was deep fried with the beef in, then stuffed with cheese and lettuce. This is a fairly rare style, and is my favorite. The rice was also quite good.

The perfect margarita was, indeed perfect, with plenty of lime to offset the sweetness.

Service was attentive and friendly.

La Bamba Mexican and Spanish Restaurant
730 US Hwy 1
North Palm Beach, FL
(561) 882-1718

FrutaMix Mexican Kitchen

Drink bar

**** (4 stars)

This is the third and best iteration of Mexican restaurant in this space. The concept is a bit odd in that it is both a restaurant and a juice and ice cream bar, but it works.

Complimentary chips and salsa were good, and the margarita was excellent. Nacho are to be avoided, as they involve liquid cheese.

Street tacos on soft corn tortillas with pastor were authentic and excellent. The cheese and mushroom quesadilla was very savory.

Service was odd, probably the result of a language barrier, but it will presumably improve with experience.

FrutaMix Mexican Kitchen
15493 Stoneybrook W PkwySte 120
Winter Garden, FL
(407) 614-1438

Los Reyes Mexican Grill

Chicken fajitas

***** (5 stars)

This is a homey little restaurant in a charming part of old Clermont. The small house has been lovingly decorated and features a colorful mural.

The menu offers all the standards and a few particularly authentic items such as molcajete. Prices are reasonable, and lunch specials are very inexpensive.

Your meal includes excellent chips and a very mild salsa. You can also request spicer versions. We tried the medium, which tasted like it had been pepped up with yellow habanero. If that’s their medium, I don’t think I could handle spicy!

We tried the appetizer sampler. The rolled chicken taquitos (which they may have been calling something else) were the highlight. The guacamole was also excellent. Quesadillas were straight forward. The only thing we didn’t care for was the jalapeno poppers, which had a very thick batter. (I just wish the appetizer had come out before the lunch, but maybe some people are in a hurry, and they were very busy.)

For lunch we had the tostada and chicken fajitas. The chicken in the fajitas was a particular standout, with a delicious marinade, and a nice sear.

In addition to beer they also have margaritas, and they are excellent. I’m not sure whether it was made with traditional ingredients, but it had a nice orange citrus hint to it, and wasn’t too sweet.

This is an excellent choice for a charming sit down Mexican meal in Clermont.

Los Reyes Mexican Grill
658 West Ave
Clermont, FL

San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant

Top shelf Margarita
Appetizer sampler
Chicken tortilla soup
Taco al carbon

**** (4 stars)

This location is much larger than the original one on West Colonial, and I think it is much better. The space is bright and airy, and divided into a number of rooms, with a nice bar along one side.

The menu is very extensive. A good way to get a variety is to try the appetizer sampler, which actually contains items I don’t regard as appetizers, such as chimchangas, tamales, and flautas.

I also tried the taco al pastor, which is authentic with the inclusion of pineapple bits, although I would have liked the meat to be richer and spicer.

The top shelf margarita here is one of the better ones in town. They don’t call out the specific spirits, but it definitely tilts toward the orange side of the flavor chart, which I found interesting. Fresh citrus kept it from being too sweet.

San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant
16112 Marsh Rd
Winter Garden, FL
(407) 554-2118

El Abuelito Family Mexican Restaurant

Huge margaritas!
Chalupa, enchilada, Chile relleno

**** (4 stars)

Competently executed Mexican food in a pleasant environment. Where else can you have enchiladas while watching skiers (although we were there in July). Well-stuffed chalupa, very tasty Chile relleno, so-so cheese enchiladas. HUGE margaritas!

Good service and nice ambiance.

El Abuelito Family Mexican Restaurant
385 W Broadway
Jackson, WY
(307) 733-1207

Julio’s Agave Grill

Enchiladas Sauzas
Queso fundido
A photo at Julio’s Agave Grill

**** (4 stars)

A delightful outdoor patio is the highlight of this neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Chips and salsa are complimentary. Queso fundido was and interesting, complex recipe that included mushrooms. The cilantro rice is particularly as rly good. Margaritas are potent! Service was attentive and friendly.

Julio’s Agave Grill
2809 Agoura Rd
Westlake Village, CA
(805) 370-0145

Chevys Fresh Mex

Appetizer Fresh Mex Sampler
Bar and interior

*** (3 stars)

Back when there weren’t many Tex Mex restaurants in town, we used to go here all the time. (Actually, our history goes back far longer, because back in the 80s this was our Sun Bank!) But somehow it fell off our radar, and we hadn’t been in years. We were surprised to discover the extensive remodel, which involved moving the door and making the bar area much larger and better than it used to be.

Unfortunately, the food hasn’t improved along with the decor. We shared an appetizer sampler, and it was pretty ho-hum. To give you an idea of how far this place has strayed from Mexican or Tex-Mex, the best thing on the platter was Buffalo wings. And, oddly, every single item included chicken, so that’s not really much of a sampler, is it?

The highlight was the house margarita, which was an excellent blend of balanced ingredients. Service was friendly and professional.

Chevys Fresh Mex
12547 State Rd 535
Lake Buena Vista, FL
(407) 827-1052