Superica

Written By Scott Joseph On February 1, 2024

Superica overview

A new Tex-Mex restaurant has come to town by way of Atlanta. 

Superica is one of several concepts from one of that city’s most prolific – and respected – chefs, Ford Fry, whose restaurants include JCT. Kitchen and The Optimist. He also has restaurants in Nashville and Houston, all of them one-offs. Only Superica has multiple locations – a dozen – the newest in Winter Park in a space that itself is new, the Palm Hills development on Orlando Avenue.

The original Superica, on Krog Street, was in the factory of the Atlanta Stove Works, maker of the cast iron Barrett Range. You might be forgiven for thinking the Winter Park location was once some sort of factory rather than purpose-built to be a restaurant. It’s a vast space with soaring ceilings, white brick walls and decorative concrete block, a choir-loft-like mezzanine and kitchen windows open to the dining room. For some reason, music videos are projected on the high wall over the kitchen in images as large as your basic multiplex. If you come here for quiet conversation you’ll be sorely disappointed.

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Kavas Tacos + Tequila

Written By Scott Joseph On June 29, 2023

Kavas Tacos + Tequila at Pointe Orlando

The long-awaited Kavas Tacos + Tequila has finally opened at Pointe Orlando from the folks who brought you Taverna Opa, also at the Pointe, and Tapa Toro at Icon Park. With Kavas, they add Tex-Mex and Mexican street foods to their portfolio of Greek and Spanish cuisines.

The atmosphere at Kavas is lively, along the lines of Taverna Opa but without all the napkin tossing. And whereas Opa has belly dancing and Tapa Toro flamenco, Kavas has the occasional performance of a fire dancer.

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Salsas Cocina Oviedo

Written By Scott Joseph On November 23, 2022

salsas int

Took a trip out to Oviedo one recent very rainy evening and took refuge in Salsas Cocina Mexicana & Cantina, a popular Eastside restaurant.

It’s a lively place with a colorful interior that features bright paintings and Mexican star light fixtures hanging over the tables and booths.

In the American tradition of Tex-Mex restaurants, a bowl of tortilla chips and dish of salsa was offered when my guest and I were seated. I sipped on the house margarita, which was flavorful with its Gran Gala, triple sec and orange juice but did not affect my ability to drive after.

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JJ’s Fresh from Scratch

Written By Scott Joseph On October 6, 2020

JJstogo ext

JJ’s Fresh from Scratch is celebrating its sixth anniversary. But technically it’s only been JJ’s Fresh from Scratch for a fraction of that time, three or four months. When it opened, in 2014, it was JJ’s Grille. And when, in 2017, it won a Best Tex-Mex Foodster Award, it was going by the name JJ’s Fusion Grille.

The mainstay has been JJ – full name JJ Paredes – who started the quick-serve assemblage concept on Curry Ford Road at the age of 24. The quick popularity of the restaurant prompted Paredes to open two other locations, but they have closed. So Paredes said that he decided to go ahead with the rebranding, which had been planned before the pandemic, and focus on the Curry Ford West flagship.

Also a constant, as I wrote in my original review in Dec. 2014: ‘The people are friendly because they want to be, and the food is better than average.”

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Felipe Rodriguez Tequila House + Kitchen

Written By Scott Joseph On July 9, 2019

Felipe door

Of all the restaurants that have occupied the space at the corner of Washington Street and Hyer Avenue in downtown’s Thornton Park, Felipe Rodriguez Tequila House + Kitchen feels the most permanent.

That may be because for the first time the main dining part of the restaurant has an actual hard roof. Before that it had an elaborate tent-like structure to keep out the elements, and before that it had nothing. The elements were everywhere.

But there’s more to the commitment of a real roof and all the other cosmetic and structural redesigns inside. It shows a dedication to this concept. Even more, the people involved in the restaurant seem to understand that the food needs to be more than an afterthought. On my two visits to the restaurant, I was surprised to find the food as good as it was.

I don’t mean for that to be a backhanded compliment. But let’s face it: Any place in downtown Orlando that calls itself a tequila house isn’t a place you’d expect to spend much time on food. Fortunately, that’s not the case here.

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Mi Casa Tequila Taqueria

Written By Scott Joseph On February 21, 2019

Mi Casa guac

So I had a friend visiting from New York, staying at Rosen Shingle Creek, and I suggested we get together for a drink and a bite to eat. More for a drink. I quickly went through the options at Shingle Creek and decided I’d visited them all and would rather try something new. I said I’d pick him up and we’d go elsewhere.

We drove a few miles over to the Orange Blossom Trail area and went to a little restaurant I’d heard about. We sat down in a booth and a young woman handed us a menu. I asked about the beer and wine selection. She said they did not serve alcohol, so we left.

The same thing happened at the next two places we stopped at. Then my friend just casually mentioned that he’d had a good meal at the Mexican restaurant at Shingle Creek.

Shingle Creek has a Mexican restaurant? That somehow eluded me. So we got in the car and drove back to the resort we had left a half hour earlier, hungrier and definitely thirstier.

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Tin & Taco SoDo

Written By Scott Joseph On September 6, 2018

Tin and Taco case

When it opened in downtown Orlando, in early 2017, Tin & Taco did little to elevate the “things in a tortilla” category. I wasn’t overwhelmed by what I tasted; I wasn’t underwhelmed, either. I was just whelmed.

So I was a bit bemused to learn that T&T would be opening a second location, in the SoDo district less than three miles away. What could they possibly have learned in a short time to warrant a second location?

A lot, it would seem.

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Agave Azul Winter Park

Written By Scott Joseph On August 16, 2018

Agave Azul sign

I like Agave Azul in Winter Park. And if I sound slightly surprised when I say that, it’s only because I never cared very much for the original in Orlando.

Then again it’s been over seven years since I visited the Kirkman Road location. And I rather liked its sister restaurant, Saint Anejo Mexican Kitchen + Tequileria when it opened a year and a half ago in Winter Springs.

Like Saint Anejo, the newer Agave leans a tad more to the Mexico side of the border in the Tex or Mex question, though a full section of Fajitas, an American invention, has it straddling the wall.

But everything I tasted was good. Though in the case of the Taco Shooters it was good taste in an odd presentation. But how could I pass up something called Taco Shooters?

NEW: Watch a video version of this review. Click the image below.

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Taco Maker Mexican Grill

Written By Scott Joseph On June 20, 2018

Taco Maker tacos

Taco Maker Mexican Grill had me at goodbye. As I walked out of the fast fooder across the street from the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, the manager and her young staffer behind the counter both called after me, thanking me for coming in and hoping that I enjoyed my food. Hospitality management, indeed.

Unfortunately, everything before that wasn’t so hot.

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California Tortilla

Written By Scott Joseph On May 8, 2018

California Tortilla ext

I find the name California Tortilla unmemorable. It’s generic. Non descriptive. And the logo for the chain restaurant that opened recently in downtown Orlando isn’t very helpful: it’s an avocado. Also, the specialty is burritos. Oh, and despite the California designation there don’t appear to be any locations in that state.

Then again, there isn’t much else about the place that’s all that memorable, either. Certainly not the staff, most of whom barely acknowledge a customer’s existence.

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