Mexican food is one of my favorite types of food. Deliciously crunchy, bottomless corn tortilla chips and salsa that almost always come before the meal. Refreshing margaritas with a salty rim and tequila bite. Warm, house-made corn tortillas that top any store-bought brand. Fresh guacamole.
So I was beyond excited when I was invited to check out the new and improved gluten-free menu at Cocina 214.
Cocina 214 is nestled in a cozy corner of East Welbourne Avenue, right off of bustling Park Avenue. The setting is both hip and charming, and we sat in the cute, covered patio outside.
We started our tour of the Cocina 214 menu with a few appetizers! First off, let me tell you that this restaurant dominates in the bottomless chip and salsa category.
Their salsa is a bit spicier than your typical restaurant salsa, but I LOVE spicy food so it was just perfect for me. They bring a warm basket of crunchy, corn tortilla chips and a chilled bowl of salsa the second you sit down. And they continue to refill your chips and salsa as they get low, unless you tell them to stop. It’s so delicious and impossible to resist, so at one point we asked them to slow down on the refills because we weren’t sure we’d be able to eat our dinner!
Back to the appetizers. We pigged out. Guacamole, ceviche and queso blanco with chorizo. Goodness. So much deliciousness.
The ceviche was my favorite. They use fresh seasonal fish, which was tilapia the night we visited, mixed with lime juice, avocado, cilantro and jalapeño. It tasted super fresh from the lime and cilantro and was delicious on its own or as a dip for the chips!
The guacamole was really creamy. I don’t think it had anything very differentiating, but I think that was actually a nice change of pace. It was super fresh and really yummy. Sometimes restaurants try to get really fancy and add a bunch of extra things into the guac, but this was a good, solid guac. Onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro and lime. We really enjoyed it and ate the entire dish. Yep.
I almost said no to a third appetizer, because I just can’t consume THAT much food! But I’m so glad we ordered this. If you like cheese, you’re in for a treat. Queso blanco melted to the perfect consistency topped with crumbled chorizo adding the perfect bit of saltiness and extra texture.
Along with these yummy apps we enjoyed some cool drinks.
First I tried the Skinny Margarita which was strong and delicious. Adam ordered “The Iceberg” which was half frozen margarita and half beer. It looked pretty cool and he said it was alright, but not his cup of tea.
Next we each tried The 214 Frozen which was super refreshing with the perfect hint of tequila. (Our server said that they do $5 margaritas for their happy hour on Monday through Thursday from 4:30 – 6:30pm. We will definitely be back for that!
Alright. The main feast!
Carne Asada. Grilled skirt steak with onions and peppers. Topped with chimichurri salsa. Our server, Giovanni (who was wonderful by the way and you should totally request him,) recommended the steak medium rare. I have never had a medium rare steak in my life. But, I trusted Giovanni and he didn’t steer me wrong! The steak was perfectly crispy on the outside and perfectly pink and juicy on the inside. The chimichurri was absolutely mouth watering. The whole combination was just OMG melt in your mouth awesome.
Adam had ordered the brisket tacos, which typically come out on flour tortillas. However Cocina 214 is incredibly accommodating and can make so many of their items gluten-free, even the ones that aren’t marked with a GF symbol. So, since our server was raving about how fabulous the brisket tacos were and I couldn’t try Adam’s plate, I asked if the chef could make me a taco on a corn tortilla. Whoah. This might possibly be the best soft taco I’ve had in my life. The brisket was so juicy! They cook the brisket for 7-10 hours at 250 degrees and it’s slow-cooked to perfection. The tacos are served with a dipping sauce but they are so perfect on their own I think these are so good on their own, that I wouldn’t recommend even using the sauce! They are just perfect as is.
We also sampled the Camarones Brochette, which comes out sizzling on a hot skillet. Shrimp stuffed with cheese and fresh jalapeño wrapped in bacon. It’s really unique and the bacon is nice and crispy. I couldn’t taste the cheese inside but there was a nice kick from the jalapeño. You can build fajitas with these but I just tried the bacon-wrapped shrimp on its own and it was great.
For dessert, they brought out the flan. It’s the only gluten-free dessert option on the menu. I am not typically a flan person – something about the consistency just isn’t something that I crave. But this was topped with a yummy caramel sauce which I liked. Adam likes flan and really enjoyed it, too.
We are definitely looking forward to going back soon. The service, atmosphere and food were perfect for our date night and would be great for group of friends, too!
They throw a big Cinco de May block party with a Patron ice luge and a Running of the Chihuahuas. If you’re in the Orlando area it sounds like a fun way to spend your day! They’re celebrating all weekend.
For menu, location and contact information check out there website cocina214.com.
Hugs, kisses + yummy dishes… xoxo