Before the invention of tacos, only half wheels of cheese, shared-with-a-friend cookies, and vastly oversize slices of pizza fulfilled the coveted semicircular food group. Get your daily dose of half-circle nutrition with today's Groupon: for $12, you get $25 worth of Latin and Caribbean cuisine by way of South Beach at Flaco's Cocina in University City.
The cooks at Flaco's Cocina serve up an expansive menu of seafood and Latin specialties carried to tables alongside handcrafted cocktails and house-made sangrias in a colorful, nonchalant environment. Celebrated fish tacos with seared tuna, blackened tilapia, or tempura baja grace plates under a canopy of zesty pico de gallo ($4 each); lobster empanadas luxuriate in saffron-coconut cream ($14); and traditional braised carnitas fajitas ($12.50) tempt taste buds. Marinated ceviche, such as bay scallops with papaya or shrimp with oranges and chilies ($10), harness the power of heatless cooking to feed the intensely pyrophobic. The cozy interior envelops patrons in aquamarine walls peppered with local artwork, carmine chairs, and orange and blue pendant lights. Flaco's Cocina's chips and four salsas ($3.75 unlimited), made fresh in-house daily, disappear at a rate that supports anthropologists' campaign to grant tortilla chips protected-species status.
Though the Midwest isn’t the most obvious locale for modern latin fusion cuisine, Flaco’s Cocina—from patio to downstairs lounge—proves that dishes can still taste authentic in the middle of the country. Everything about the restaurant exudes a latin ambiance, from the giant fish mosaics, painted beach scenes and live music of El Paraiso Lounge to the bright blue walls and red chairs that play calypso music each time a diner stands up. Amid the vibrant dining room, downstairs lounge, and airy patio, guests dig into fajitas, tacos, and quesadillas that teem with seafood, spices, and citrus touches. To complement the spicy eats, margaritas douse tongues with a choice of handpicked tequilas—such as Don Julio Silver, Patron Silver, and Cabo Wabo—which guests can also enjoy at the full bar in the newly opened downstairs El Paraiso Lounge. Sleek hardwood floors run throughout, supporting a stage that plays home to an eclectic lineup of live music. The downstairs area also hosts special events, private parties, holiday celebrations, and salsa lessons on its spacious dance floor. Live music and DJs are an extra fee.