The next time you head to Park Avenue for date night, don’t be afraid to veer from the main drag; some of the area’s best gems are slightly off the beaten path. Specifically, I’m talking about Cocina 214, the celebrated Tex Mex eatery that’s only failing is that it’s not right on Park Avenue.

Let me rephrase that… I love that it’s not directly on Park Avenue. Its location, just steps from Park Avenue on Welbourne Avenue East, gives it a kind of clandestine feel, like a best kept secret you’ll only tell your closest friends about.

The food is… house-made, authentic, and affordable. Marc had the Don Carlos blackened fish tacos ($15) and I had the Veggie Tamales ($13); we loved everything. The nacho chips are made fresh every day and the guacamole is bowl-licking good.

The setting is… buzzing, stylish but laid back, like it's saying, “we want to impress people but we still know we’re a Tex Mex restaurant.” When the weather is right, cross your fingers you can land a table on the quaint outdoor patio where a bubbling fountain sits in the center.

Favorite feature… I loved the chef’s table overlooking the kitchen. There are only six seats, enough room for just three couples to eat bar-style as they watch the kitchen chef up fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, and quesadillas. If you’re on a first date, go with this option. It’ll give you something else to do other than stare across the table at each other all night.

Make it a great date night… get there early and grab a cocktail in the bar area. It’s a really great spot to hang out in before and after dinner. Sangria fans… get ready! Their house blend rocks. I threw two back just to make sure. All in the name of research, of course!

I loved it, and Orlando Magazine readers agree. In 2012 they voted Cocina 214 Orlando's Best Tex Mex restaurant.

Cocina 214
151 Welbourne Avenue East, Winter Park, FL 32789


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