Let's face it: with South Florida's heavy colorful Latin population, finding good latin cuisine isn't exactly challenging. But finding a good Mexican restaurant? Now, that's another story.
While lots of restaurants in the area produce a decent variation of authentic Mexican fare, true Tex-Mex or a good take on latin fusion style dishes, only a few make our list for the best in Broward and Palm Beach County, which takes into account food, atmosphere, drinks and music for the whole enchilada. Here's our list - in no particular order - of the Top Ten Mexican Restaurants in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Located just off I-95 off Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach, Aleyda's has been serving Tex-Mex cuisine for more than 30 years, what continues to be some of the best cuisine and service in the city when it comes to Mexican fare. Although there isn't a bar to get your drink on, the daily specials for lunch and happy hour make this a great day-spot to do a little pre-celebrating with our pick of lobster fajitas -- and an awesome selection of Mexican beers, housemade sangrias and frozen and on-the-rocks margaritas.
At Carlos & Pepe's, the names speak for themselves. Carlos Lopez is named after four kings of Spain, while Pepe traces his family back to the ancient Mayan Indians of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Together, they offer up one of the most authentic Mexican menus around. This sprawling, immensely like-able diner-bakery has a fetching old-timey family-restaurant feel to it, and has been pleasing customers for so many years that if your grandparents lived in Dania Beach, they'd tell you what it was like to eat here as little kids. Nothing radical about the menu--home-cooked food that tastes good and fills you up. Roast chicken, meatloaf, pastas, burgers, steaks, salads--it's a big selection of American favorites that hit the spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don't pass up desserts, as the bakery portion of the restaurant puts out some very good pastries. Fresh, chunky salsa cruda and warm tortilla chips are so good, you'll want to make a meal of them. Try the nacho sampler, which features a platter of bite-sized, homemade tortilla chips individually piled with fresh crab, chicken, or beef and guacamole, salsa, jack cheese, and sour cream. And the bar serves some mighty fine margaritas on the rocks.
Located off Sunrise Blvd. just a few steps away from the boardwalk oceanfront strip in Fort Lauderdale, the Mexican Cantina has been offering up quality Mexican food at a good price. While the menu is not 100 percent authentic, it's close -- and among the best Mexican cuisine South Florida has to offer. Top dish picks include the enormous soft tacos, chicken tortilla soup and the Mexi-burger. A must-have come Cinco de Mayo: the chips and salsa are housemade, and -- of course -- the margaritas, which are potent and tasty. What more could you ask for?
7. The Mexican
Boca Raton's newest Mexican restaurant, dubbed The Mexican, is a tequila bar designed by Dennis Max, one of South Florida's longtime restaurateurs best known for Max's Grill in Mizner Park. The menu offers truly authentic fare that -- like the decor -- is a tribute to Southern California, where Max grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. The guacamole is made to order and Ubiera said it was some of the best he's had outside of Cali. Dishes from the "Mexican Street Food" section are said to be inspired by the humble eats that Max fondly recalls, though they certainly don't come plated like they've been served out of the side of a food truck.
With locations across Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Virginia and Florida, Uncle Julio's in Mizner Park is the perfect place to get your party on if you don't want to spend the entire night in a Mexican restaurant surrounded by tequila. The area allows you to experience any of the park's amazing restaurants and nightlife, as well, but Uncle Julio's is a good a place as any to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Come Sunday, the restaurant will transform Mizner Park into a Cinco de Mayo street party. The Mexican extravaganza will feature a street taco stand, outdoor bars, a photo booth and family activities, as well as a mariachi band and DJ. The festival will encompass Uncle Julio's patio as well as the adjacent North Plaza Real at Mizner Park.
Cabo Flats, which opened in Palm Beach Gardens several years ago, serves up some pretty tasty Tex-Mex and Southwest-style cuisine, live music and good times. But it's the outdoor bar and patio -- where you can order a number of super-sized, fresh-blended margaritas -- that make this spot one of the best around when it comes to celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Cabo Flats is all about drinking. Here, the main point of emphasis in both form and function, and it's packed tight with customers both inside and out thanks to two service windows facing the busy patio. There, a procession of multigenerational drinkers in glittery shirts and high heels hoist purplish margaritas the size of their well-coifed craniums and wash it down with typical, Ameri-Mex standards. Tacos, burritos, and enchiladas are all cheap and plentiful, while house-made ceviche with fresh local fish is made throughout the night. There's not much to complain about with the chips - thin wafers dusted with chili powder -- or the salsa. And while some of the dishes fall flat (rock shrimp with a too-sweet mango habanero sauce come to mind), others, like citrusy house carnitas with pickled red onions, deliver on the promise.
El Tamarindo's menu is all over the map -- a map of the American continents, anyway. The proprietors have come up with a brilliant strategy to attract every Latin-food-loving soul within 100 miles: They'll dish up your meat and veg in the style of Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay, El Salvador, Honduras, or Mexico. Just pick your pleasure. An appetizer mixed plate runs the gamut - Salvadoran pupusas filled with loroco buds, or beans and cheese, come with a tart slaw called curdito; a Honduran chicken-filled baleada is for dipping in a sweetish sour cream. The kitchen makes its own salty fresh cheese, and tortillas are cooked to order. Grilled skirt steak or a palomilla can be had for $10.99 or under, a great bargain, as is the fried fish of the day or sautéed shrimp. White tablecloths and charming, shy service make this setting muy relaxing.
3. Dos Caminos
Dos Caminos Modern Mexican Cuisine & Tequila Lounge in Fort Lauderdale
is one of several locations nationwide including New Jersey, Nevada and several locations across New York. The restaurant boasts some pretty substantial figures, from the use of 500,000 avocados each year to make thousands of orders of their signature guacamole daily, to the dozens of different tacos on the menu, and more than 150 tequilas at the bar. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo here and order the Del Diablo made with an infused Skyy vodka that gets its flavor -- and heat -- from five varieties of chili pepper, as well as fresh pineapple and passionfruit.
Rocco's Tacos first opened on Clematis St. in downtown West Palm Beach in 2008, what is today one of the most enduring -- and popular -- restaurants in the area. The concept did so well that Rocco Mangel, founder and partner, has been able to steadily open new locations across South Florida including cities like Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach Gardens. Today, the restaurants are known for their annual Cinco de Mayo celebrations, where the bar offers over 120 selections of tequila that range from silver and gold, to super-premium imported picks -- perfect for all your drinking needs. Be sure to check the restaurant's Twitter and Facebook feeds to find out when and where Mangel will be showing up to each location. That means free tequila pouring from the bar when he dons his infamous white boots and gets the party started.
Ask anyone foodie in Fort Lauderdale where to go for good Mexican cuisine, and Canyon will be at the tip of their tongues. Around for more than a decade in a town that has new restaurants opening and closing on a daily basis, that says a lot about the food. Inside this cavernous little restaurant, cuddly couples and lively singles sip the owner-chef Chris Wilber's famous -- and patent pending -- prickly pear margaritas at the bar. The lighting is dim, the perfect ambiance enjoy the chef's southwestern-style fusion menu featuring creative dishes with Asian, Southern and Central American influences.
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