Reinvented Mexican is having its day — or should I say “year?” — in Southwest Florida. The region, long known for its well-loved, affordable, true-to-Mex taquerias such as Molcajetes (Naples), Taco Mix (Bonita Springs) and Taqueria San Julian (Naples and Fort Myers), recently welcomed three new spots for an authentic taco fix with atmosphere spiffed up and mucho more on the menu than just tacos.
My colleague, Dorothea Hunter Sonne, before she left on maternity hiatus, gave Turco Taco in Naples a test run. “The menu uses almost all organic ingredients, and they’ve got beer on tap and by the bottle. Loved everything we tried!” she raved. Besides its five gourmet tacos wrapped up gluten-free, it gives taco-lovers the option to design their own. Plus there’s quesadillas, fresh healthy salads, vegetarian dishes and shaved street corn. It gives new vitality to the iconic once-Dairy Queen (and a couple other manifestations) at Tamiami Trail and Ninth Street South.
I was crushed when the Latinos Market in south Fort Myers closed some time back. The little convenience store served THE best huevos rancherosand refried black beans outside of Quintana Roo. So naturally I was overjoyed when owner Ana Guerrero opened Takoté Autentico Restaurante Mexicano on mainland Fort Myers Beach. She kept the convenience store format but in a much roomier, more modern space (the former chamber of commerce building on San Carlos Boulevard). Tacos come in 17 varieties from al pastorto beef cheek, along with other Mex staples, including those huevosI was craving. Except now there are also chilaquiles, leaving me with a major breakfast decision dilemma. All the more reason to visit often.
The most “fancified” of the three (and the only one where you sit down to order), Tino’s Southwest Kitchen occupies a teeny storefront in the Publix plaza on Summerlin Road in south Fort Myers. Its six taco plates present twosomes of out-of-the-ordinary varieties such as grilled snapper and tomatillo chicken, along with sides. Owners Alison and Blaine Dry, formerly at the helm of Cip’s Place on Sanibel Island, have not only carved an inviting space but have crafted some non-taco dishes you must also try, including the smoked tomato salsa, enchiladas stacked with short ribs braised in red wine and Hatch Chile red wine chocolate brownie a la mode.