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Restaurant Review | El Patron Mexican Restaurant and Cantina – Orlando, Fla.

For my trip to Orlando in May, I had two dining-related goals in mind: 1. eat at a local restaurant that is not a chain or affiliated with a theme park and 2. eat seafood because it’s so fresh and easy to find at restaurants in Florida.

At El Patron Restaurant & Cantina — the OpenTable Diner’s Choice 2014 winner — I fulfilled both goals.

While selecting a restaurant for lunching with my party of seven on Mother’s Day, I considered location, menu, price and atmosphere as I researched restaurants. Ultimately, I booked a reservation for El Patron through OpenTable because it had excellent diner reviews. It also met my aforementioned criteria: convenient location, moderate price range, an appetizing selection of menu options, and a family-friendly but also margarita-friendly atmosphere.

El Patron is conveniently located near Disney World.

El Patron Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in Orlando, Fla. (Photo by Erin Klema)

El Patron Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in Orlando, Fla. (Photo by Erin Klema)

Shopping at Downtown Disney was our planned activity for after lunch, and El Patron’s location on S Apopka-Vineland Road is just a short drive from Disney’s shopping, dining and entertainment destination. Located in a strip mall with ample parking, the restaurant was a convenient locale to reunite with college friends who have relocated to the Sunshine State.

On the left: A Central Michigan University reunion with my friends Greg and Heather! On the right: Our whole lunch group, from left, Jonathan, Carl, Greg, Heather, Bryelle, RJ and me. (Thank you to our server for so kindly taking our group photo!)

On the left: A Central Michigan University reunion with my friends Greg and Heather!
On the right: Our whole lunch group, from left, Jonathan, Carl, Greg, Heather, Bryelle, RJ and me.
(Thank you to our server for so kindly taking our group photo!)

Drink list showcases signature margaritas.

After drinking our way around the World Showcase at Epcot the previous night, I think Carl and I were ready to drink a bit of hair of the dog that bit us. In fact, we kind of repeated our first round — from Mexico, of course. For Carl, it was a spicy jalapeño margarita. For me, I stuck with a sweet, fruity and ice-cold beverage — a pinapple-flavored marg at Epcot and a frozen peach margarita at El Patron.

The Georgia Peach, a sweet and fruity frozen margarita, at El Patron. (Photo by Erin Klema)

The Georgia Peach, a sweet and fruity frozen margarita, at El Patron. Very refreshing! (Photo by Erin Klema)

The drink menu featured several signature margaritas, and the bar is stocked with more than 70 different tequilas!

Menu features delicious and moderately priced meals.

(Photo by Erin Klema)

El Patron’s menu features salads and entrees mostly costing in the $10-14 range during lunch. (Photo by Erin Klema)

I ordered the Del Mar, two shrimp tacos on soft corn tortillas for $12.99. The tacos were topped with cilantro and a pineapple-and-cabbage slaw and were served with refried beans and rice. The tacos could also be ordered with Mahi Mahi at the lesser price of $11.99.

The Del Mar, shrimp tacos, at El Patron is delicious. (Photo by Erin Klema)

The Del Mar, shrimp tacos, at El Patron is delicious. (Photo by Erin Klema)

I opted for the healthier corn shells, but flour tortillas were also available for the tacos. The shrimp tasted so fresh, and the pineapple slaw added a nice sweetness to the dish. I don’t usually eat refried beans, but I loved both the rice and beans, too.

Lively atmosphere and friendly service, too.

The rustic restaurant has a vibrant burnt-orange back accent wall adorned with brightly-colored folk art. It’s a festive setting for dining with friends or family. We had an adorable six-month-old baby girl dining  with us, and the restaurant provided us with a high chair. The hostesses and servers were friendly and helpful — even taking our group photo. After such a pleasant experience, I’d be happy to dine at El Patron again (even though I try to eat at new and different restaurants when I revisit a destination), and I’ve already recommended it to friends who live in the area.

Know before you go …

Location: 12167 S. Apopka-Vineland Rd., Orlando, Fla.

Menu: Mexican cuisine including salads, tacos, burritos, chimichangas, fajitas

Drink List: Signature margaritas and 70+ tequilas

Price: $10-14 for most lunch entrees; $13-17 for most dinner entrees

Parking: Parking lot

El Patron Mexican Restaurant & Cantina on Urbanspoon

Wish you were here,

Erin

 

 

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