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Food & Drink

Best Mexican Restaurants In Tampa Bay

April 10, 2014 9:00 AM

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(photo credit: Thinkstock)

(photo credit: Thinkstock)

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, commemorates the defeat of French army forces in the Puebla region during the aftermath of the Mexican-American War. A symbol of national pride and unification, this holiday is celebrated more often by Mexican-American communities in the U.S. than in Mexico, which may come as a surprise to many. Some historians claim it a clever marketing ploy invented by beer companies as an excuse for a party. Others view it as a legitimate reason to commemorate Mexican independence. Despite its debated significance, Cinco de Mayo offers an ideal opportunity to discover the best of Mexican cuisine in Tampa Bay.

Señor Taco

6447 Park Blvd., Suite 1
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
(727) 289-7080
www.senortacomexicanrestaurant.com

The best Mexican kitchen on the Pinellas side of the Bay, Señor Taco has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2006. Opened by Nina Jenkins, a native of the Yucatan region, along with her son Carlos Sosa, Señor Taco has become a wild success. Adding a special Mayan twist to traditional Mexican cuisine, Jenkins distinguishes her restaurant with its specialty, the cochinita pibil; a type of shredded pork marinated and slow roasted, also known as “Mayan BBQ.” Another highlight of this spot is its crunchy tacos. Once inside, you’ll find your own slice of Cinco de Mayo heaven.

Miguel’s Mexican Seafood & Grill
3035 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33609
(813) 876-2587
www.miguelscafe.com

Inspired by his aunt, Mamma Ninfa, who opened a restaurant in Houston in 1972, Miguel Rodriguez decided to open his own restaurant in Tampa two decades later. Since then, Miguel’s has been a hit in the area, with a constant flow of traffic aided by the restaurant’s strategic location on highly populated Kennedy Boulevard. However, lavish decor and a series of well-appointed rooms offer a relaxing ambiance to enjoy exotic seafood, grilled beef and a variety of tequilas. While the prices may seem a bit steeper than other Mexican spots in our area, “you get what you pay for,” as the age-old adage goes. In this case, it means better tasting and more elaborate dishes thanks to quality ingredients and fresh produce.

Taco Bus
505 Franklin St.
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 397-2800
www.tampatacobus.com

One of the newest locations in a growing Mexican fast food empire, downtown Tampa’s Taco Bus is definitely worth a visit. The brainchild of Chef Rene Valenzuela, Taco Bus first opened inside of an actual bus on a busy street corner in the Seminole Heights neighborhood nearly a decade ago. Since then, Valenzuela’s expertise in creating an assembly line of tacos, burritos and quesadillas at affordable prices has made this a winning concept in the region. The menu offers a wide variety of fillings, such as beef, chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, vegan and vegetarian options, and even some gluten-free choices. The latter include tempeh, tofu, butternut squash and “steak strips” that will surprise many in how close they come to the real thing.

Related:  Best Guacamole In Tampa Bay

TacoSon
7521 N. 56th St.
Tampa, FL 33617
(813) 989-2080
www.tacosonmexicangrill.com

A relatively new kid on the block of Mexican eateries, TacoSon seems to take all of the strengths of Taco Bus and adds them to a very unique specialty: the breakfast burrito. With similarly low prices and generous portions, the food at TacoSon will not disappoint. Some of the highlights of the menu include the lengua (beef tongue), chicharron, huevos rancheros and fresh guacamole. Vegetarians will enjoy the colache, a Mexican-style zucchini alternative to meat available for the tacos, burritos and other dishes. However, be advised that with the buzz that comes with being popular, so too can come longer wait times and occasionally sub-par service. In this case, it’s worth the wait.

Agave Restaurant
6400 Gulf Blvd.
St. Pete Beach, FL 33706
(727) 367-3448
www.yelp.com

What goes better with an afternoon spent at the beach than a light Mexican beer and some delicious fish tacos? Agave has just what you’re looking for on St. Pete Beach – excellent sangria and margaritas, fresh guacamole and salsa and famous chimichangas with its unique mole sauce. The cuisine at Agave sets it apart from the majority of beachside shacks, many of them unsophisticated and full of tourists. The sole weak point comes in the form of the service, which at times can seem unprofessional. However, the management has taken note of this and things have since gone smoothly.

Related: Where To Get The Best Tacos In Tampa Bay

Aaron Phillips has experience in marketing and journalism. Recently back to his hometown, he’s excited to discover and share what Tampa has to offer. His work can be found at Examiner.com.
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