Catrinas Mexican Fusion (http://catrinasmexicanfusion.com/) is one of Orlando’s newest Mexican restaurants. It opened right near my job earlier this year, on the busy corner of Semoran Boulevard and East Colonial Drive, in the former location of Garibaldi’s, another Mexican restaurant I had gone to literally dozens of times, and the original location of my beloved seafood restaurant High Tide Harry’s before that.
The management of Catrinas Mexican Fusion modernized the large space vacated by Garibaldi’s, and I love the new decor, full of bright murals and artwork featuring La Calavera Catrina, the fashionable female skeleton who is an artistic symbol synonymous with El Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. This colorful, cartoony Catrina mural is more glamorous (and alive) in appearance, and she greets diners upon entering the restaurant.
As a fan of Jarritos, the delicious and refreshing Mexican sodas made with real cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, my eyes were instantly drawn to this huge display of different flavors of Jarritos in glass bottles with multicolored lights flashing behind them. I highly recommend the tangy mandarina (mandarin orange), piña (pineapple), and guava.
On this first lunch with a former co-worker and friend, she ordered queso dip ($5.99) and fresh guacamole ($5.49) to go with the fresh, crispy tortilla chips they bring to the table. The free chips also come with very good salsa that didn’t make its way into my photo.
I ordered the tacos Catrina ($9.99), with three tacos on fresh flour tortillas, grilled with cheese inside. You can select any combination of meats: steak, grilled chicken, carnitas (pork), al pastor (pork marinated in spices with onion and pineapple), chorizo (crumbled spicy sausage), and lengua (slow-cooked beef tongue). Me being me, I chose three of my go-to favorites, the al pastor, chorizo, and lengua. The tacos are topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, pico de gallo, and Mexican crema. They were delicious. Each one was better than the last.
I know some purists prefer corn tortillas, and Catrinas Mexican Fusion offers them too. You could order the similar tacos Mexicanos (also $9.99) with the same meat choices, but they would come on corn tortillas, topped with diced onions and cilantro, plus lime wedges on the side. Don’t get me wrong, I love this more traditional taco style too. That’s how they come at some of my favorite taquerias like Francisco’s Taco Madness and Tortas El Rey. But I appreciate really good flour tortillas, and this combination really hit the spot.
More recently, I picked up Catrinas takeout to bring back to work for myself and a valued co-worker who was having a birthday and wanted Mexican food. Her first choice wasn’t available, so she ordered the fish tacos ($14.99), with grilled fish, green and red bell peppers, and mango sauce on flour tortillas with a cheese crust. They also come with coleslaw on them, but she requested no coleslaw. She seemed to really like them, and I was impressed that the tacos clearly held fresh filets from a whole fish.
My first choice wasn’t available either, so I ordered the birria tacos ($12.99), an order of three tacos on corn tortillas with shredded, marinated birria beef, topped simply with diced onions and cilantro, with a side of consomme on the side. I’ve had birria at two other local restaurants that specialize in it, The Pass Kitchen and QuesaLoco, and both were great, but these were easily just as good.
I also got a single a la carte chile relleno ($4.99), listed as a side order on the last page of the menu. You can’t really see the golden-brown egg batter surrounding the cheese-stuffed poblano pepper in this photo, but I swear it is there, under all that “special sauce,” queso fresco, crema, and cilantro.
Catrinas was out of aguas frescas on my first visit to the restaurant, but this time I was able to order a mango agua fresca for my co-worker and a passion fruit agua fresca for myself ($3.99 each, for huge styrofoam cups). I really loved mine. Passion fruit is my latest flavor obsession, and I always appreciate any Mexican restaurant that serves aguas frescas. In fact, I often find myself judging Mexican restaurants that don’t offer al pastor pork, chorizo, and lengua as taco options, or aguas frescas as beverages. I am happy to report that Catrinas Mexican Fusion has it all. Working so close, I am sure I’ll be a regular in the months and years to come, and I wish them the best with this new restaurant. They are already off to a great start, so visit them soon!