Located a few steps off of historic Winter Park’s bustling Park Avenue, Cocina 214 Restaurant and Bar is a popular place to enjoy creative Tex-Mex cuisine. The spacious restaurant offers plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, thanks to a recently expanded outdoor seating section. Enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner under ceiling fans on the covered patio or sit street-side to soak up some rays and people watch. For those seeking air conditioning, the indoor seating offers tables and comfy booths to settle in and stay awhile.
I was invited to experience the fresh flavors of Cocina 214 this past week. My guest and I were guided to some excellent choices from our server, David. He shared that the kitchen starts each day by making every menu component from scratch- to include the guacamole, all of the salsas, flour and corn tortillas. Glancing at the fresh corn chips and salsa being delivered to recently seated diners, one can guess that tortillas are made steadily all day long.
The corn tortilla chips are sturdy enough to scoop up the thick guacamole and were accented nicely by the complimentary salsa which arrived shortly after being seated. My guest and I both commented on the bright tomato flavor and nice spice in the house salsa. Not much heat, so this salsa should be appealing for all diners and is great way to wake up your palate at the start of the meal. We ordered some of the guacamole (recipe below) and it did not disappoint. Served in a chilled glass dish, the creamy guac had nice texture and great flavor; be sure to squeeze the accompanying fresh lime wedge to get the complete experience.
The lunch menu offers a great deal Monday – Friday, choose from one of the following menu items: the Chicken Street, Brisket or Veggie Tacos, Enchiladas de Queso, de Pollo or de Carne and receive two tacos or enchiladas for $10. The newest menu clearly notes the vegetarian, gluten free and vegan options, making it very easy to navigate for those with specific diets. There was a great selection of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tamales, fajitas with many choices in fillings and flavors for any diner. Frankly, we had a tough time deciding and finally chose tacos with rice and beans on the side. The brisket tacos are made from slow roasted brisket that was exceedingly tender while also keeping the texture of the brisket. My guest spent many years living in Dallas, Texas, where brisket is a regional specialty. He proclaimed the tacos wonderful and enjoyed the smokey fire-roasted tomato salsa and the addition of sour cream to round out the flavorful tacos. With the addition of chips and salsa, the two taco lunch special would have been plenty to fill up my hungry guest. The Spanish rice had great tomato flavor and was tasty when paired with either the black beans or the refried beans.
I ordered the rock shrimp tacos, which are available based on local rock shrimps seasonal availability. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try rock shrimp, give these tacos a try. The taste and texture of rock shrimp is very similar to lobster, so it’s the best of both worlds for fans of shellfish. The rock shrimp were perfectly done and the seasoning in the light breading accented the sweet meat. A roasted corn relish and chipotle cream sauce were the perfect additions. The taste and texture of the fresh flour tortillas was notable and they easily contained the hearty fillings without falling apart.
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What is a Tex-Mex meal without a great margarita? I enjoyed the appropriately tart and refreshing margarita on the rocks, but you cannot go wrong with margarita if you order it frozen. Seeking a deal? Head to the bar side of the restaurant, where Happy Hour can be enjoyed Mondays – Thursdays 4:30pm – 6:30pm with $5 214 Margaritas (Rocks & Frozen), $3 Draft Beers, & $5 Wells. Ladies Night is every Wednesday from 5:00pm – 7:00pm with $4 214 Rocks & Frozen Margaritas.
Happily, Brunch is offered on both Saturday and Sunday from 11:00am -3:00pm with $3 Brunch Mimosas and the addition of seven brunch entrees added to the regular menu. I’ve enjoyed the Cocina 214 Huevos Rancheros; the authentic flavors had me reminiscing of my travels out west, where I discovered this delicious breakfast treat. Check the Cocina 214 events page or join their email list to be updated on current events and happenings. Reservations can be made through Opentable.com or by calling 407-790-7997.
In honor of this past Sunday being National Chip n Dip Day, Cocina 214 shared their popular Guacamole Dip recipe. Fun Fact: made fresh daily, the Cocina 214 kitchen goes through over 48 pounds of avocados a week! Make this delicious guac to enjoy on a Taco Tuesday or feed a March Madness crowd.
COCINA | 214 RESTAURANT & BAR GUACAMOLE
Guacamole Yield: 1 Quart
6 EA Avocados
1/4 EA Red Onion Small dice
2 Tb Cilantro Chopped
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 EA Jalapenos Small Dice
1 EA Roma Tomatoes Small Dice
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/8 C Lime Juice Fresh
Method of Preparation:
Scoop the avocados in a large stainless steel mixing bowl. Add the squeezed lime juice and coat the avocados. Fold in the remaining ingredients and mash them all together. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes then serve. Garnish with a chip and/or lime wedge. Taste for seasonings it may need to be adjusted.