La Malinche Mexican Restaurant

During my visit to St. Armand’s Circle this past weekend, my parents and I were surprised to spot a new Mexican restaurant in the area.  Interested, we decided to give it a shot a few hours after visiting Tommy Bahama. The outside of the restaurant only says Mexican restaurant, we learned the name of the restaurant when we sat at the bar which had a Budweiser sign glowing with the restaurant name: La Malinche.  The bartender greeted us and informed us it was his first day. We soon found out why he was previously unemployed.

My parents and I decided to order some tacos and some drinks. I decided to have the Tacos al Pastor which consists of 4 tacos filled with marinated pork, onions, and pineapples with cilantro and onions on the side ($12.95). The tacos come with rice. The bartender had a comment for every step of our order and was completely passive-aggressive towards the party throughout the meal. The food came out lightning quick, we did not wait for longer than five minutes for our food and it was warm.

I was surprised with how great the tacos were. The tortillas tasted freshly made and the pork was seasoned perfectly. The pineapples were a great pair for the pork with the cilantro and onions. The rice tasted like canned rice as did the beans we ordered on the side, however the overall taste of the meal was great. After we received our food things took a turn for the worst.

The entire restaurant ran out of Coca-Cola (which everyone in my party was drinking – either in a mixed alcoholic beverage or as regular soda). Instead of the bartender offering anything else to drink, he simply went on his way and when questioned about the drinks only replied that they were searching other restaurants for soda donations. We had some salsa chips at our table which combined with salty Mexican food made lacking a beverage just uncomfortable.

I finally grabbed the attention of the bartender and asked him if they had anymore horchata. He had no clue what that was and brought me a liquor menu. In the middle of this conversation, a waitress approached us with some tacos looking for whose they were. The bartender leaped for joy because he was hungry and this was his. He then grabbed his food and marched to the back, completely ignoring the fact that I was in the middle of asking for a drink. When he came back to the bar he pretended like it never happened.

Luckily, another employee eventually grabbed me something to drink since apparently this bartender had no intentions of doing his job  and now I know why the majority of the Foursquare tips and Urbanspoon reviews for this restaurant denounce the service here. What I found to be particularly funny was that the restaurant itself has reviewed itself on Urbanspoon four times with stellar reviews each time. They aren’t shy, their username is even “La Malinche”. How blatant.

After this service debacle, I doubt I will ever return to La Malinche and if I ever did it would most certainly be a takeout order. The high prices certainly don’t reflect the quality of the service. The restaurant has almost been in the circle for a year so I think it’s time for them to fix this issue. It’s really a shame because the food there is great, if only they could hire better employees and have better management.

La Malinche on Urbanspoon

Restaurant name: La Malinche

Cuisine: Mexican

Neighborhood: St. Armand’s Circle

Address: 40 S Blvd.Of Presidents Sarasota, FL 34236

Phone Number: (941) 388-4444

Website: http://www.lamalincherestaurant.com/

Carlos Eats nominated for Best Local Blogger by A-List

Carlos Eats has been nominated on Channel 10’s A-List for Best Local Blogger.

If you would like to help me in the polls visit my page at: http://tampacityvoter.dealchicken.com/carlos-eats/biz/645916

Thanks again for your support! Make sure to vote in the food categories for your favorite local restaurants and eateries. 🙂

Lemon Grass Thai Kitchen – now open in Riverview

I ordered takeout from the relatively new Lemon Grass Thai Kitchen in Riverview. When the Great Recession hit business almost hit a halt in this area. It is nice to see the area growing again now that the economy is in recovery. Normally I am a little cautious to order Thai takeout because my history with it has been pretty awful. Normally my Pad Thai is dry and sauceless by the time it gets home. I am happy to say that this was not the case with Lemon Grass!

The Chicken Pad Thai tasted as fresh as if I was in the restaurant for dinner and it was priced reasonably as well at around $10 if I remember correctly. The color of the noodles shows there was plenty of sauce and there was plenty of chicken mixed in. They were also quite generous with the noodles, normally unheard of in my past with Thai takeout orders.

The lady at the register was friendly as well. She informed me that they have a lunch buffet for under $10. Thai lunch buffet within minutes of my house!? You know I am going back. It is good to have a Thai restaurant closer to home (although I do still love Ploy Thai and Jasmine Thai). I’m excited for growth in Riverview. 🙂

Lemon Grass Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Name: Lemon Grass Thai Kitchen

Cuisine: Thai

Neighborhood: Riverview

Address: 11106 Bloomingdale Ave. Riverview, FL 33578

Phone Number: (813) 654-0671

Website: http://www.lemongrassbestthai.biz

Tampa Bay becomes a Yelp Elite City

Yelp was the first food community I joined online back in 2006 after I was introduced by a Xanga friend living in San Francisco. Since then I have gone on to write over 500 reviews on Yelp and been a member of their Elite squad since 2006 as well. Yelp always had aspirations for Tampa and sent me free Yelp goods (including a t-shirt and hoodie) during my first few years as a member. I was one of the first reviewers, plowing my way through Tampa Bay. Reviewing every restaurant and business I interacted with.

Despite all the reviews Yelp Tampa never seemed to kick-off. I began losing interest as I noticed no sense of community was being built in Tampa like other cities. Over time Yelp grew and in 2009, a few consistent members began to have Unofficial Yelp Events (UYEs) around town. I joined a few and some dining trails included an Asian tour, pizza tour, and many trips to The Wat Thai Temple. Many Yelpers were bitter that Yelp would not allow them to become Elite members because Yelp did not recognize Tampa as an Elite city.

The Yelp Tampa crew on the 4th of July in 2009 at Pine Tree Karaoke Cafe (now called One Family Korean Restaurant) during our Asian tour weekend.

They continued reviewing and contributing for years on, hoping that Yelp would finally someday give Tampa Bay a chance. Finally, earlier this year Yelp announced it would be hiring a Community Manager for Tampa Bay…a sign that Tampa would soon be developing into a Yelp Elite city. Yelp Elite members contribute regularly to the site and have exclusive events they can attend around town, usually at local restaurants or bars with exclusive promotions and it is a great way for Elite members out of town to meet the locals. The Community Manager helps organize official events and find events around the city to promote on the website. A foodie network is vital to this growth.

This week an Events tab appeared for Yelp Elite members to submit events and Review of the Day (ROTD), a way to recognize excellent reviews, also appeared on the home site for Tampa. It’s exciting to think where this could go and how this can help Tampa’s food scene grow as the powerful social media site Yelp backs the way. I know I’ll be motivated to keep contributing as much as possible. Congrats Yelp Tampa reviewers! Your hard work has now paid off.

http://www.yelp.com/tampa-bay

Recipe: Mom’s Stovetop Barbeque Chicken

My Mom and I randomly decided to make a video of her recipe to her signature stovetop barbeque chicken. I thought I’d share it on here with you guys. It’s delicious so I hope you get a chance to make it yourself. There aren’t exact measurements for the ingredients because my Mom tends to alter the chicken each time to her liking. If you watch the videos you’ll get a good explanation on how to make it. Good luck 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomatoes
  • Barbeque Sauce
  • Onions
  • Cilantro
  • Ketchup
  • Garlic

Seasonings:

  • Complete Seasoning
  • Garlic Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • White Cooking Wine (Marinade)

Estimated Cooking Time: 40 Minutes

La Guaguita – Puerto Rican Cuisine Food Truck

A friend and I went on a ethnic market hunt and just as I started complaining that there are basically no Puerto Rican food spots in Tampa, I turned around and saw a food truck called La Guaguita waving a Puerto Rican flag. My friend and I decided to investigate.

Click the photo for a larger version of the menu.

A quick look at the menu and I saw many favorites such as mofongo (flavored mashed plantains), alcapurrias (a fritter dish), pastelillos (empanadas), tostones rellenos con pulpo (stuffed fried plantains), arroz con gandules y pernil (rice with pigeon peas and roast pork), tostones (fried plantains), and also various sandwiches. All choices were at reasonable prices (~$8 for a full meal, $1 or $2 a la carte), this truck doesn’t over-charge for ethnic food. They also had various refreshments, including my personal favorite: Malta India. Malta has a sweet, refreshing taste to it and is essentially a beer that has not been fermented. Malta India is made in Puerto Rico.

I decided to order their arroz con gandules y pernil or rice with pigeon peas and roast pork ($6.00), which was fantastic! It only took a few minutes to come out and I would say it was as good as a home-cooked meal (sadly my family doesn’t cook much Puerto Rican food these days because they became lazy in recent years). The rice was moist and the peas also had an authentic taste. The pernil (roast park) was also excellent and really hit the desired taste perfectly, the fat was rich with succulence. Normally I only have this dish during the holiday season, so it was nice to enjoy it for an afternoon lunch for a change. It also came with small salad that had plenty of flavoring from some salt and pepper.

A great deal for $6!

The employees were friendly with us and the crowd was welcoming, both helpful in explaining any menu concern we might have. Many people came and went which was a good sign about the food. They accept major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard, so you don’t have to worry about keeping cash on you as well.

I am really happy to have found a Puerto Rican food truck and hope to come back to their empanadas and mofongo in the future :). They also cater if you’re interested in having some Puerto Rican food at your event.

La Guaguita Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: La Guaguita

Neighborhood: Town N Country

Cuisine: Puerto Rican, Spanish

Address: Hillsborough Ave & Sheldon Rd. Tampa, FL 33615

Phone Number: (813) 965-0086

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Guaguita/126037044109027