While I was going over posts I want to make on this website, I realized I hadn't given any restaurant reviews yet. This fact, coupled with the knowledge that I didn't make anything new at home this week, led me to the decision that instead of a recipe this week I'll give my opinion on a restaurant.
I have had a really hard time in Orlando finding what I consider to be a good Mexican restaurant. In the Tampa Bay area, where I lived previous to Orlando, there are two fantastic Mexican restaurants that have spoiled me. The one in Clearwater, FL is now Los Mayas (formerly Los Mariachis - the place seems exactly the same except for the name change), and the other is Los Mexicanos in Tarpon Springs, FL. Believe me, I have searched and searched in Orlando for restaurants similar to my favorite Tampa Bay ones, who serve what I consider to be authentic Mexican. Then about a year ago, I found a good place for Mexican food in the greater Orlando area. Not actually in Orlando proper, but in Altamonte Springs, a neighboring city.
Emiliano'z Mexican Restaurant located at 1012 W. State Road 436 in Altamonte Springs, FL is a good place for Mexican cuisine. They have a website, http://www.emilianoz.com/, but it is currently down for maintenance. However, you can find their menu online at http://www.restaurant.com.
The first thing that grabs you is the decor. In fact, I was a little nervous walking in my first time that we had gone to a place that was way too expensive for my budget. I could not have been more wrong! The prices are extremely comparable to other Mexican restaurants, and their happy hour prices are really good.
While the inside is warm and inviting, with lots of dark wood and tastefully authentic Mexican decorations, there is also an outside seating are that has a beautiful lakeside view. Let me tell you, sitting outside, sipping a margarita, while looking at the lake is a great way to unwind from a stressful day, or week. Unfortunately, I was more concerned about taking pictures of the food then I was of the inside decor and outside view. Next time I go I will make sure I take some of those pictures and add them to the additional pictures post.
The second thing that grabbed me is their great margarita prices! I opted for a HUGE house margarita during their happy hour, and it only cost me $3. On a previous visit, I could swear there was a night where I only paid a dollar for a house margarita during happy hour. But never mind that, there is also food to talk about!
I have been to Emiliano'z a handful of times. The great thing about Emiliano'z is that they do carry out, AND they participate in Doorstep Delivery, which is a great service that serves the greater Orlando area, and allows you to get some of your favorite restaurant food, right at home. So while their restaurant is beautiful and I enjoy dining there, if I don't have a lot of time but am craving some good Mexican cuisine I can take it home with me.
I am sort of boring and get the same thing every time I go there to eat. It's usually the "make your own combination", where I order a beef enchilada, a cheese enchilada, and a beef taco. This platter also comes with refried beans and Mexican rice. With certain places, I am a creature of habit and will consistently order the same dish. Luckily for me, I normally eat out with companions and people will generally order meals different from mine and I get to taste them most of the time.
The first time I went, my companion ordered the Camerones al Ajillo. This is a shrimp dish which has a garlic and chile sauce, and it's served with a Poblano rice and bell peppers and onions. On another visit my companions had the Quesadilla Rellena with Grilled Chicken. We have also ordered the Queso Fundido appetizer, which comes with your choice of sausage or mushrooms. We opted for mushrooms since I generally do not eat sausage.
The menu also contains several salad and soup items. The Cancun Salad, with grilled shrimp, peppers, and onions on a bed of romaine, tomatoes, and cucumbers with a choice of dressing sounds really yummy, as does their Tortilla soup. The menu also has a few vegetarian options, grilled fish, fajitas, burritos, and many more options.
As is standard in most Mexican restaurants, when you are seated you are brought tortilla chips and salsa. Emiliano'z salsa is made fresh, with chunks of tomato and onion, bright cilantro leaves, and has a spicy kick.
The thing I enjoy about the enchiladas is the sauce. And that they use corn tortillas, because I prefer corn tortillas to flour ones. The enchiladas I order come with a red sauce. A typical authentic enchilada sauce has at least tomatoes, chiles, onion, cumin, and oregano. This sauce is well-balanced, with a nice chile flavor, but not overwhelming spice. The one thing that does disappoint me is that they make their hard taco shells from flour tortillas, which is a nice touch for people who do enjoy flour tortillas, but again, I prefer corn tortillas. You can get your tacos hard or soft with no problem, in fact, they usually ask you if you haven't specified.
Let me mention some other things that I think make dining at this establishment enjoyable. The service is dynamite. I'm never looking around and wondering when my server is coming back, they are attentive without being annoying. Also, the food comes out FAST. Granted, I have never been to this restaurant on a weekend evening (usually only during the week for dinner), so things may be a bit slower in their busy times. However, I'll keep going during the weeknight if it means my service will always be this good.
With good prices, good services, and good food, Emiliano'z is worth the trip when you're in the mood for Mexican in the Orlando area.