Tex-Mex

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition in remembering deceased ancestors and friends.  We were invited to the inaugural Day of the Dead event at Cocina 214 and I had a great time celebrating this Mexican tradition for the first time.  The event offered delicious light bites and two exclusively-themed drinks such as the “Alma Buena” that came with a flashing LED multi-colored ice cube and a shot of Black Raspberry Sangria to pour into your drink for a fun swirl of colors and also the “La Mariposa” that was served with a rim of sugar and butterfly gummies on a pom-pom food pick.  The event also included fun activities sponsored by el Jimadaor such as the color your own shirt station which they gave away free shirts for and the promotion table where they gave out free scarves to everyone who filled out a quick survey.  First come, first serve.

Cocina 214 in Park Avenue of Winter Park is known as a vibrant, hip, brunch, lunch, dinner restaurant, with a lively, yet relaxing atmosphere. It’s edgy yet approachable and perfect for family and friends.  They are building their second location at 357 S. Atlantic Avenue Daytona Beach, Florida 32118 with the same concept as the original location – contemporary Mexican and Tex-Mex kitchen with authentic dishes that combine bold flavors and the freshest local ingredients all served up in a vibrant, elegant and fun setting.

Alma Buena “ The Good Soul” – EL Jimador Tequila, Blue Curacao, Sweet & Sour, Agave, topped with Black Raspberry Sangria
The intent of day of the dead is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

La Mariposa “ The Butterfly” – EL Jimador Tequila, Blood Orange Liqueur, Fresh Lime, Agave, splash of Soda
According to traditional belief among Michoacán’s Mazahuas the monarch butterflies are souls of ancestors who return to Earth for their annual visit.

Color your own shirt station, sponsored by el Jimador.

Free el Jimador scarf for filling out a quick survey.

Tortilla chips and salsa

Fried Avocado Bites – lightly breaded hass avocados fried served with chipotle cream dipping sauce (Vegan)

Mushroom & Spinach Quesadilla – sautéed mushrooms, fresh spinach

Brisket Quesadilla – beef brisket, pico de gallo

Trio of guacamole, queso and fire-roasted salsa

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos served with veggie rice, queso fresco, roasted corn on corn tortillas.  Served with sautéed poblano salsa.

If you missed out on the Day of the Dead festivities this year, be sure to drop by Cocina 214 and check out their updated Happy Hour menu full of delicious new cocktails and quick bites served up with a twist.  You don’t want to miss the annual Day of the Dead event next year!

(Source credit: Cocina 214)

Cocina 214
151 E Welbourne Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 790-7997
http://cocina214.com

Hey, food friends!

You’ve seen the news, you’ve watched videos of families in need on Facebook Live, and you’ve probably heard about celebrities dropping big money.

As Orlandoans, helping Texans may feel out of arm’s reach, but there’s so much that we can do collectively.

Here is a growing list of restaurants that are doing their part to aid Texans.

Let’s explore how to eat responsibly.  

Where to Eat

  • Chuy’s | All Locations
    • With 9 locations across Houston and Corpus Christi, this brand is definitely feeling the impacts of Hurricane Harvey. To help, it is selling a limited edition T-shirt at all locations for $10. 100% of the proceeds will benefit Chuy’s Redfish Relief Fund, which supports employees experiencing financial hardships due to disasters, emergencies, and other life-changing circumstances

  • Sonny’s BBQ | All Locations
    • Nothing says Texas like barbecue… On September 6, all 113 locations will donate 10% of sales to Operation BBQ Relief, an organization that mobilizes pitmasters and barbecue enthusiasts to areas in need to help prepare and serve barbecue
  • Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park
    • $1 from each chocolate star lollipop sold until September 10 
    • 10% of chocolate covered popcorn sales during the week of September 4-10
    • The store will also be collecting cash donations, and anyone who donates at least $5 will receive their choice of a free chocolate covered Oreo or pretzel rod

Safe Bets

There’s often a little bit of confusion and trepidation about donating to large charities. Oftentimes, only a small percentage funds actually hit the homes of the people you indeed to help.

Here are some that are collecting funds and donations responsibly.

Feeding Children Everywhere

With FCE, you can donate, start a fundraiser and know that 100% of proceeds raised through this fund will be used for Harvey disaster relief! And if you purchase this shirt, 40 meal will be donated. That’s a deal! 

Second Harvest Food Bank | Orlando, Daytona Beach, West Melbourne

All locations are accepting non-perishable food donations for Texas flood relief

Undies For Everyone 

1. Purchase new underwear here

2. Collect new, packaged underwear and mail it to the address below. If you’re purchasing, they recommend Hanes or Fruit of the Loom. UFE doesn’t process or give out anything but underwear!

Undies for Everyone
1700 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX 77005

3. Give cash and Undies for Everyone will purchase wholesale

The Emeril Lagasse Kitchen House | Orlando

Chef Kevin Fonzo is partnering with Chef Tiffany Derry to raise money via the Edible Schoolyard and Kevin Fonzo Foundation. On Sunday, September 10 from 12-3 p.m., visit The Emeril Lagasse Kitchen House and Culinary Garden as they host a kid-friendly “Lemonade Stand and Bake Sale”! They will have fresh lemonade available for sale, as well as some incredible baked goods donated by some amazing local pastry chefs!

Go Fund Me

Check out the different families and organizations that are sharing their stories in order to get help.

Volunteer

There are so many organizations in need of a hand.  Orlando Vegans is partnering with Clean The World tomorrow, Saturday, September 2. Sign up here!


 Words of Encouragement 

All too often we talk about people impacted by natural disasters as victims. We have to remind ourselves and the people impacted that they are victors. They need to be reminded that they are strong, resilient and able to overcome. I’ve started a Google Doc for everyone to share the love by writing encouraging notes. The hope is that we can share with charities and outlets in Texas to pass along to locals!

Here’s to foodlantrophy and lots of love.

Snack on,

Chauniqua Major, but we’re friends so call me Major!

 

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Chuy’s, the Austin-based restaurant, officially opened its doors of their newest Central Florida location at 6688 South Semoran Boulevard near OIA, is Chuy’s third location in Central Florida, joining Chuy’s Kissimmee and Chuy’s I-Shops, located on International Drive.

For more than 30 years, Chuy’s has served made from scratch Tex-Mex favorites that include Stuffed Chile Rellenos, Chicka-Chicka-Boom Enchiladas and Chuy’s famous Big As Yo’ Face Burritos. Flour and corn tortillas are hand-rolled all day on the authentic comal located in the dining room allowing customers to experience the freshness first hand.

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Steak fajitasSONY DSC

Fish and shrimp tacosSONY DSC

Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken – chicken breast breaded with Lay’s potato chips, deep fried and smothered in Green Chile sauce and cheddar cheese. Served with green chile rice and refried beans.

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Taco SaladSONY DSC

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My favorite dish though is the decadent tres leches dessert, made from scratch at Chuy’s – fluffy, light, and so very satisfying.

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In addition, distinctive décor surrounds diners – an Elvis shrine, hubcaps on the ceiling and soaring eight-foot tall palm trees, among other eclectic treasures – to make Chuy’s the most fun and friendly restaurant in town. The Chuy’s motto is “If you’ve seen one Chuy’s, you’ve seen one Chuy’s!” because each restaurant’s eclectic décor is unique and no two restaurants are the same.

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“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to grow our presence in Central Florida with the opening of our third location,” said Jose Ortega, Owner/Operator of the new Chuy’s. “This community has really responded to our fresh Tex-Mex and incredible service and we’re looking forward to sharing it with more of the locals and tourists alike.”

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Chuy’s Central Florida restaurants are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with a weekday happy hour from 4-7 p.m. complete with drink specials and the famous Fully-Loaded Nacho Car, offering a trunk load of FREE chips, salsa, chile con queso, taco meat and more. For more information about Chuy’s Orlando visit Facebook.com/ChuysOrlando.

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As part of the grand opening celebrations for its newest Orlando location at 6688 South Semoran Boulevard, Chuy’s Tex-Mex has donated more than $7,100 to its local charity partner, Give Kids The World Village (GKTWV), a nonprofit organization that provides week-long, cost-free Orlando dream vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. The presentation was held at the Give Kids The World Village on March 17.

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Donations from customers and contributions from Chuy’s were collected at special events during the restaurant’s grand opening celebrations, which were held to introduce the Chuy’s brand to the South Orlando area. In addition to the money raised at events, Chuy’s donated over $2,400 to the charity as a result of a social media fundraiser promoted by the restaurant.

“We’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the employees and guests of Chuy’s for their donation to Give Kids The World,” said GKTWV President Pamela Landwirth. “Chuy’s continued support helps us continue giving our precious children and their families the happiness that inspires hope.”

Chuy’s founders Mike Young and John Zapp were introduced to GKTWV while attending a management seminar at Disney in the late 1990s. Young and Zapp, inspired by the organization’s mission to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses, spent the next decade raising money for the charity, donating a duplex, balloon stand and pool for the 70-acre Village in Kissimmee, Florida, where more than 135,000 have come to visit Central Florida since GKTWV opened its doors in 1986. This relationship, which started more than 17 years ago, continues with the new Chuy’s location. In 2013 and 2014, Chuy’s locations in Kissimmee and on International Drive donated more than $7,700 to GKTWV, along with donating food for events at the village for events.

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Chuy’s is a Tex-Mex chain restaurant based out of Austin, Texas that recently opened their second location here in town on International Drive near Sand Lake Rd (the first location was in Kissimmee off of US-192). This is one of the first of many other new developments on the I-Drive corridor as part of the I-Shops project.

If you’ve had Tex-Mex in Texas before, you’d know there is nothing else like it in the world – the flavors are intense from the steaks to the peppers and vegetables.

International Drive is a little far away from Texas, but from what I tried recently during their opening events, Chuy’s should be able to do Tex-Mex cuisine proud. Chuy’s Tex-Mex cuisine includes the traditional enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas, and tacos and the price points are all very reasonable with most entrees falling below $15, great for traveling families and even locals. The tortillas are made in house, as can be viewed through a display area where ladies mix dough and flatten them out the way your abuela used to make them.

Kitschy decor and Elvis themes pervade at Chuy’s and in the bar area, nachos are served out of the back of a make shift Chevy. The original owners of Chuy’s first struck popularity after dressing up the original restaurant in Elvis paintings and decor and the theme stuck ever since; there is even a dish called the Elvis Presley Memorial Combination – a fittingly huge dish not for the faint of heart. The Tres Leches cake is a must for dessert – the best I’ve had in Orlando!

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Chuy's is Elvis themed
Chuy’s is Elvis themed
Kitschy decor
Kitschy decor at Chuy’s
Ladies making fresh tortillas by hand
Ladies making fresh tortillas by hand
Queso Compuesto $6.99 - filled to the brim Chile Con Queso topped with a satisfying trio of seasoned ground sirloin, guacamole, and pico de gallo
Queso Compuesto $6.99 – filled to the brim Chile Con Queso topped with a satisfying trio of seasoned ground sirloin, guacamole, and pico de gallo
Our server was fantastic despite the hectic first night
Our server was fantastic despite the hectic first night
Nachos, freshly made, light, thin and crispy - some of the best nachos in Orlando
Nachos, freshly made, light, thin and crispy – some of the best nachos in Orlando
Guacamole $5.99 - fresh, good, but I did not like the lettuce mixed in. Kind of felt like they were cheating.
Guacamole $5.99 – fresh, good, but I did not like the lettuce mixed in. Kind of felt like they were cheating.
Chuy's Chicken Tortilla Soup $4.29 - Light, refreshing chicken broth with  tender, hand-pulled chicken, avocado, roasted  corn, green chiles, tomatoes & cilantro, topped with  cheese and tortilla strips
Chuy’s Chicken Tortilla Soup $4.29 – Light, refreshing chicken broth with
tender, hand-pulled chicken, avocado, roasted
corn, green chiles, tomatoes & cilantro, topped with
cheese and tortilla strips
Taco Salad $8.99 - Homemade tortilla bowl with fresh, mixed salad  greens, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole & your choice  of fajita chicken, fajita beef or seasoned ground sirloin
Taco Salad $8.99 – Homemade tortilla bowl with fresh, mixed salad
greens, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole & your choice
of fajita chicken, fajita beef or seasoned ground sirloin

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Crispy Tacos – $8.29 – Hand-formed corn tortillas filled with seasoned ground sirloin, lettuce, cheese & tomatoes

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Chuy’s Margarita

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The Elvis Presley Memorial Combination $10.99 – Beef Tex-Mex enchilada, cheese Ranchero enchilada, chicken Tomatillo enchilada, a  seasoned ground sirloin crispy taco & homemade tostada chips dipped in chile con queso

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Fried Tortillas Dessert

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Flan

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Tres Leches – the best Tres Leches cake in Orlando

Chuy's on Urbanspoon

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Open late till 3am and later, Gringos Locos is perfect for grabbing some Tex-Mex grub after hitting up the bars downtown.

The place is a bit of a dive, dark and with relative few seats. No matter, as most hungry patrons probably are going in just for a quick bite to satisfy their late night munchies.

They serve up some creative if inappropriately named dishes, mostly burritos, tacos, chips and queso and salsa, enchiladas. I went for the Double D’s, a “double decker” taco made with a queso spread on a soft tortilla wrapped around a crunchy hard shell and then filled with cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and some pork meat, a flavorful choice. The fish tacos I tried were a bit bland and a bit too wet for my liking, maybe would have helped with some spicier salsa.


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The fish tacos…could be better.

but he pork double d’s were a hit!

Gringos Locos on Urbanspoon

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