Chips, salsa and guacamole
***** (5 stars)
It’s about time Orlando got a gourmet Mexican restaurant! When we travel I always enjoy trying Mexican places that are doing fusion cuisine, or thinking outside the box, like fine dining restaurants do in Mexico. The chef at Reyes is drawing upon Baja and other seacoast cusines, and says he was influenced by Rick Bayless’ (Frontera, Topolobompo) cooking, but I actually thought it was better than those places.
We started with chips and salsa, and guacamole, just to compare the old standards. The chips are obviously house-made, thick and sturdy, with a good corn flavor. The guacamole was good, enhanced by pickled onions on top. The salsas were outstanding: a fairly typical red, excellent green, and amazing chipotle. I’m not even a big fan of chipotle peppers, but I couldn’t stop eating that one!
The other appetizer we tried was the ceviche. My companion enjoyed it, but I felt like the fish was overcooked, either by the lime juice or perhaps actual cooking, I couldn’t tell.
For our mains we shared the tuna tostada and 12-hour carnitas tacos. Both were excellent. The tostada featured thin slices of tuna on a thin, flat fried tortilla, and the delicate fish wasn’t overwhelmed by the toppings. The carnitas are a house specialty, and I can see why, They are incredibly succulent and tender, and just needed a squeeze of lime to make a perfect soft taco.
The space is a remodel of the old Citrus restaurant, and has benefitted from being lightened up.
Service was attentive, except for an unexplained disappearing act when we were ready for the check.
The place is all hard surfaces, so I’m sure it can get noisy, but the back room seems quieter, and there wasn’t anyone else in there at brunch, so we enjoyed it very much.
821 N Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32801