THIS. IS. ZEPHYRHILLS!!
After all these years of blogging… wait… maybe not years. After these many (few) months of blogging, it is with great great honor that I finally bring you a review from Zephyrhills. Yes, Zephyrhills. It’s Tampa-ish. And it’s close to home! I’ve lived near Zephyrhills my whole life. Occasionally wandered into it a couple of times, too! Though that was on accident. Anyway, Zephyrhills is a totally legit place, and it is entirely populated by senior citizens.
Yeah. Those rumors are true. It’s scary. So I wouldn’t advise planning any trips to or even through Zephyrhills. But, on the off chance that you find yourself stuck there, cold and hungry, and understandably frightened by the never-ending stench of death that looms about the place, maybe you could find some solace in this simple Mexican restaurant.
It’s Los Chicos! Or Los Chico’s, I guess. Eh. Either way. It’s a Mexican restaurant! Tucked back behind 301 on 11th Avenue, this little place stands proud, offering what may be Zephyrhills’ only Mexican alternative to Taco Bell. Which is just ridiculous. But that’s what Urbanspoon told me. and Urbanspoon don’t lie.
It’s a little restaurant, with a bit of seating in the main dining area, and a small patio with some more seating. The owners and staff seem friendly enough. To the side of the entrance through a little window, you can see the small kitchen area, where the chefs work quickly and efficiently. It has homey sort of atmosphere, so that you immediately feel welcome upon entering.
I was picking up a bit of food for my mother and myself to go, so I quickly perused their menu. They have a pretty good selection of dishes, which you can order as a lunch or dinner, or ala carte. I wanted to get a variety of items, so I went with ala carte, but when it all came out, they had made three of the four orders as dinners, with rice and beans. They said they didn’t mean to do that, but told me to go ahead and take the food as it was. Which was awesome. So they get points for that.
I quickly hurried home with my two bags full of food, hoping by the time I got there my meals would not have become soggy. In my rush, coupled with the fact that I am an awful driver, I ended up having to slam on my breaks, and one of the bags sped off of the passenger’s seat, flipped over, and landed on the passenger’s side floor. Nothing spilled out, as the bags had been tied and the food was in styrofoam containers, but that did not prevent them from getting all messy, or prevent me from swearing a lot. I was devastated. other drivers were amused. This is the way of the world.
First up: beef tacos! Oooh. Simple beef, lettuce, tomato, an cheese, in a flour tortilla. This, obviously, was not in the bag that fell, so they looked like normal tacos. And tasted that way too! Pretty decent beef, and the toppings were all about average. I ended up eating both of these. The first one I had as is, but the second one I ended up adding some taco sauce to, to make it a little more interesting. A bit plain, but still tacos.
Next up was a beef burrito! Actually, I ordered everything with beef here. They didn’t have steak, and I wasn’t in the mood for chicken. There was some third option, possibly pork, but I just went with standard beef. The burrito could be ordered verde, or ranchero. I went with ranchero. It was a pretty ordinary burrito, just beef inside a flour tortilla, covered with the ranchero sauce (which was good, but not over-the-top spectacular) and cheese. The rice and beans were also pretty standard.
Now things get more interesting. As you can see, this was in the bag that fell over. The damage was not too great, so this dish was pretty manageable. This was two chili rellenos, with just a cheese filling. Now, if you’ve never had a chile relleno, you should rectify that mistake and try one. They are awesome. It’s basically a stuffed pepper (usually a poblano), filled with either cheese or meat, battered, and fried, then usually drenched with some sauce. Now, apparently they are traditionally made with an egg-based batter, which I had never realized, but this was the first time I could distinctly taste the egg in the batter; it was like a friggin omelette.
Unfortunately, by the time I got home, the sauce had soggied the poor thing into oblivion. But the pepper itself was a strong taste, which was very satisfying. Sometimes the simpler, the better. Though I was thrown a little off guard by the egginess of these little guys, I think that if I went back, I would really enjoy them. Especially if I had them in the restaurant, before they had a chance to get lost in the proverbial/literal sauce.
This, the beef chimichanga, was the greatest sufferer by my poor driving skills. Everything kind of went all over the place. That being said, it still did keep itself together pretty well. Again, the sauce had kind of soggened the poor chimichanga, and a once proud fried beast was now reduced to a slimy mess. But the flavor component of the fried tortilla was still present, which was nice.
As far as makeup, this was as simple as the rest of their dishes. Everything from Los Chicos was served pretty bare bones. But this was bathed in their enchilada sauce, and that simple difference elevated the chimichanga from decent Mexican dish into godhood. The sauce was a bit smokey, with a powerful sweetness to it. That sweetness just brought everything together, working perfectly with the fried tortilla. It was excellent. This was by far the best dish I had, simply because of the sauce.
So on the whole, Los Chicos is a pretty basic Mexican place. Their food is in no way experimental; it endeavors to push no boundaries. But it has found a measure of greatness in that simplicity. I really owe it to them to eat in the restaurant, in order to sample their dishes without having shaken them up, or waited and let them get all mushy. It may not be the most impressive Mexican food I’ve ever had, but the chimichanga was great, and the chile rellenos are definitely worth trying out.
And yes, I’m aware that all these pictures pretty much look like the same thing. Suck my dick.