Journalism X samples some of the Mexican restaurants Winter Garden has to offer.
Mexican cuisine is in high demand in the United States. According to ABC News, there were 38,000 Mexican restaurants in the United States and 1,145 in Florida alone in 2011. Winter Garden is no exception to this craving for Mexican, housing a wide variety of unique Mexican restaurants, each with their own taste and flavor. Journalism X decided to go out and sample some of the Mexican restaurants Winter Garden has to offer.
First up on our list was Taquitos Jaliscos, a staple in the Winter Garden community. Well-known for their prime location on Highway 50 and their delicious, homemade Mexican, it made sense for them to be our first stop. Inside, you get the feeling of an old Mexican town. It hosts a wide variety of murals depicting beautiful landscapes and traditional houses, some even including shingles on the roofs and windows drawn in. Their main attraction is dinner and, while their entrees are delicious and always worth a try, our favorites came from the appetizers and desserts. The highlight of our tasting experience was the queso con fundito. Served with warm tortillas, this medley of cheeses was truly life changing. Your first bite is filled with a mild cheese flavor until you’re hit with that sharp cheddar flavor. The cheddar flavor combines with the meat they mix into the queso to provide a truly savory experience. Once you finish your appetizers and entrees, there’s no need to rush off, the dessert at Taquitos Jaliscos is worth the wait. We went with the postre palenque which was vanilla ice cream with traditional mexican caramel sauce on top and surrounded by fried tortillas. The ice cream and the caramel sauce was enough to send you into a sugar coma but, combined with the tortillas, your taste buds are brought into a whole other world. The crunchiness and the fried taste of the tortillas balanced out the ice cream and caramel sauce concoction and gave us a Mexican twist on an American classic.
Our next stop was Ocoee Taco Company. Here, we found more of a local food truck atmosphere. The inside was smaller then the other restaurants we went to, but the spacious outside made up for the lack of seating indoors. The restaurant and it’s owners conveyed a strong sense of Mexican heritage through their traditional style food. While there were the normal burritos, enchiladas, flautas, and, of course, tacos that were sure to make your mouth water, the dish that stood out to us was one of their traditional dishes. The Huarache was a unique dish, one we didn’t see on any of the other restaurant’s menus. It started with a thick and doughy flatbread. Then, it was covered with layers of crumbled, well-seasoned pork, lettuce, queso, traditional cheese, and tomatoes. It was truly different then any dish we tasted anywhere else and worth a try. It gives the diner a peek into traditional Mexican cuisine.
The chips and salsa offered at Ocoee Taco Company
Our final stop was at a local hidden gem of the Winter Garden community, Los Portales. This restaurant is hidden inside of a Mexican grocery market! Upon entering the store, you see and smell the buffet they have set up all day with their fresh food. Looking left, you can spot the aisles full of international groceries. Looking to your right, though, showed us the real reason we came. The restaurant is full of dark wood, bright murals, and inviting smells. The restaurant also specialized in a new aspect of Mexican food we hadn’t considered, breakfast. We tried the Huevos Rancheros to get a taste of their breakfast specialities. It started with a thin flour tortilla at the bottom, followed by fried egg and salsa. This dish had the perfect combination of sweet from the tortilla and salty from the egg and salsa. In addition, the egg gave it a very light and airy feel. Here, too, is also where we got a taste of our favorite burrito out of the three restaurants. Their Ponchos Burrito was packed to the max with flavorful meat mixed with caramelized onions, cheese, refried beans, rice, and guacamole. It was difficult to get your mouth around the whole burrito. In addition, to both breakfast and dinner, the restaurant served up some killer dessert. Their churros provided us with a Mexican classic that we all knew. The crunchy, fried dough topped with cinnamon sugar was a dessert lovers dream. And, once dipped in the icing they provided, the taste jumped to a whole other level. The condensed milk and powdered sugar sauce mixed with the crunchy churro took your mouth on a journey like no other.
With just a small sampling of the Mexican cuisine Winter Garden has to offer, it’s easy to see why Mexican food is in such high demand. However, with all the choices, it’s not easy to decide where to stop first!
Photo Credit: Tatum Cempella