Local Mexican restaurants offer authentic cuisine

Tom Moore

Contributing Writer

riobravo

Photo courtesy of Rio Bravo.

Rio Bravo, Cordova Mall

We all need that extra splash of spice added to our life. Whether it be a business, casual, or family meal, Rio Bravo is the place to be. Nestled in a corner off Bayou Boulevard at Cordova Mall, Rio Bravo brings a tiny slice of a sleepy Mexican villa into the bustle of Pensacola life.

Stop in and unwind – it’s got a great atmosphere, cold drinks and an exceptional lunch menu under $10. While you are there, try out the all-day food and drink specials.

Daily specials include “Create Your Own Favorite Combination,” where you can choose from a wide variety of menu items with two sides. Select up to three for less than $10: enchilada, chimichanga, burrito, taco, tamale, quesadilla, flauta or chile relleno, all served with rice and beans.

And of course, my personal favorite: two-for-one margaritas. Choose from the house margarita, lemon/lime, rocks or frozen. Select any size, all day long.

All meals include complimentary chips, salsa, and a delicious spicy bean dip. All in all, you get a hearty meal, with a great atmosphere and outstanding service.

For a taste of spice, great service and affordable price: five stars.

Rio Bravo has two other area locations: 596 East Nine Mile Road and 3755 Gulf Breeze parkway. Visit their website here.

 

cactusflower

Photo courtesy of Cactus Flower.

Cactus Flower, 3425 N 12th Ave.

Cactus Flower styles itself as “Authentic California style, Mexican Cuisine.” With a menu encompassing all aspects of Mexican food, it is the first choice for authentic taste on a budget. Founded by Lee Kafeety in 2001, Pensacola became the birthplace of the first Cactus Flower restaurant.

Hoping to gain publicity by word of mouth advertising, Kafeety reached out to local community organizations to help spread the word. One of the organizations that answered this call was the local Star Trek club, the USS Continuum. Led by Captain Jay Gallops, Kafeety offered the group a free lunch to help promote her business.

“The drinks are so cold the glasses are sweating when they reach the table,” Gallops said. “For $7 I got an entree, served with fresh lettuce, cheesy beans, and rice. The waitstaff was fast, courteous and extremely professional. I have lunch there about every two weeks now, and I have yet to be disappointed. I would say for the money, it’s the most authentic Mexican food in town.”

The unique thing I saw on my last visit was the use of electronic hand-held tablets instead of the standard order pad. Orders were typed in by the waitstaff, and at the end of the meal, the amount due was displayed on the screen, the card was swiped, and a receipt was printed right there at the table. Quick, easy, convenient. I never thought I would see waitstaff going digital, but clearly I was mistaken.

For geeky cool, as well as a locally owned business started here in Pensacola, I give Kafeety’s Cactus Flower five stars.

Cactus Flower also has locations on the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk; 6881 West Highway 98; and 8725 Ortega Park drive in Navarre. Visit their website here.