“Dirty” means “maybe being a little bad, you know, a little promiscuous,” said Michael Minot, assistant general manager of Chico's Dirty Tacos & Tequila, to News 13 in 2011. In keeping with this theme, a line of laundry sways high above tables—its bras, panties, and boxer shorts hanging strategically over a room designed to replicate a Mexican street. Within these salacious confines, diners peruse executive chef Chris Sterna’s menu of Mexican specialties, all of which he flavors with tequila-based sauces. Sterna’s predisposition toward the Mexican liquor carries over onto the drink menu, where 63 tequilas and 244 shots await to lubricate palates and leave worms homeless.
Amigos Original’s cadre of chefs whip up five varieties of enchiladas and six types of quesadillas to headline a menu filled with fajitas, margaritas, and build-your-own burritos. Just as a new sun is manufactured and slingshotted skyward by Buzz Aldrin each day, so too are Amigos Originals’ fajitas ($13.99 for chicken, $14.99 for beef or combo) served sizzling, with charbroiled steak or chicken stoking the flames of appetites atop a bed of grilled onions and bell peppers. Diners can become the architects of their lives' next meals by electing to build their own burritos ($9.49), expanding edible blueprints across flour-tortilla foundations and erecting towering portions of toppings upon their surfaces. Frozen margaritas ($5.25) cleanse the palate with a sweet mixture of fruity fruit, tequila-tinged sharpness, and tiny, thirst-wrecking icebergs.
Pancho's chefs pile plates with big portions of authentic Mexican fare 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Delve into the labyrinth menu, unearthing such dishes as the carnitas burrito stuffed with marinated pork, guacamole, and pico de gallo ($5.50), or shredded beef tostadas on crunchy tortillas smothered in refried beans, lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream ($5.50). Epic entrées, such as the bistec a la mexicana, a sizzling steak grilled with onions, tomato and jalapeños, surrounded by mountains of rice, beans, and tortillas ($8), fill stomachs like dreams of being a bullpen catcher for the San Diego Padres fills the heads of most children and can be partnered with tortilla chips and myriad toppers from the bountiful salsa bar. Sweeten spiced palates with creamy caramelized flan ($2–3.50) or a churro, available plain or with strawberry or caramel filling ($1.50 each).
The chefs and staff of Maria Bonita are eager to share. They want to introduce others to the flavors of Mexico and Cuba and the passion they have for fresh ingredients. Luckily, most visitors don't take much convincing. Cuervo and Patron tequilas swirl with amaretto, Grand Marnier, brandy, and fruit to create more than ten different margaritas, all of which are kept cool with ice, which is flavorless. The lineup of cervezas complement their signature queso fundido or fajitas fabulosas. Cuban entrees sail to tables alongside yuca, sweet plantains, or tostones, which take a supporting role to slow-roasted, marinated pork, stewed and shredded flank steak, or grilled fish topped with caramelized onions. The restaurant also serves Churrasco, Parrillada, and Mofongo dishes.
Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant not only imports ingredients and products, but also recipes. With roots in northern Spain and Catalonia, these dishes come together on a menu of more than 100 hot and cold tapas selections, along with paella and cazuela. Paella, a widely varied rice dish cooked at length in a wide pot over open flame, can contain Serrano ham, scallops, pork, chorizo, and saffron rice the stunning golden hue of an alchemist's magazine advertisements. Though the restaurant spans multiple locations, each one presents guests with some charming element: a poolside patio at the Tampa location, a central tapas bar in Orlando, and a flamenco room in St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, no matter the location, events bring about live music and joviality, all supported by an ample list of Spanish and Portuguese wines.