More Broward Places to Get Your Mexican Fix

John Linn
Fresh grilled Mahi Mahi finds a home in tacos and burritos at The Whole Enchilada in Fort Lauderdale.

According to Gail Shepherd's Dish column this week, Palm Beach County residents have at least one more joint where they can sate their cravings for authentic Mex (though Ameri-Mex fans should clearly look past Cottonwood). But Gail also mentioned a host of great Broward places to get either iteration of Mexican food in her column: Canyon is one place where you can enjoy a prickly pear martini along with some upscale Mex. Any serious fan of Baja-style cuisine should be well-acquainted with Zona Fresca by now -- if not for their fish tacos, then for the outrageous, grilled-fresh-daily salsa. And there's plenty to be said for Taqueria Doña Raquel, perhaps the best option in these parts for folks looking for Mexican food as eaten by actual Mexican people.

Now that's a wide enough list of bean-and-cheese covered eats to keep you happy for weeks on end. But in the interest of diversity, here's a few more Broward Mexican joints you may want to add to your repertoire:

East Coast Burrito Factory: This tiny dive on Commerical Boulevard near Andrews Avenue has been around for ages, and for good reason. They serve some amazingly overpacked "Floritos," a portmanteau of Florida and burrito as delicious as it is fun to say. The pack their burros with a mixture of rice and beans, lettuce, tomato, made-daily salsas, and a cornucopia of awesome proteins like chipotle pork, slow-roasted carnitas, grilled steak and chicken, shrimp, Caribbean-inspired jerk fish, and so much more. The burritos come in two sizes, both of which are gigantic for the price, and the staff couldn't be friendlier. If anything, East Coast is the one-and-only testament to Florida-style Mex.    

Lime Fresh Mex: This Miami-borne chain of fresh Mex restaurants just opened a new location in Coconut Creek at 4425 Lyons Road to go along with its Pembroke Pines outpost. The best reason to check out Lime is its salsa bar, with half-a-dozen fresh made salsas including a fabulous and original suave salsa made with sauteed corn chips and chipotle. Some menu options are better than others, but the prices are pretty good and the burritos are huge.

Finally the picture at the top: That's a "One Fish" Mahi Mahi taco courtesy of The Whole Enchilada, a little slice of Mexican heaven sitting on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. Much, much more on TWE after the jump.

TWE takes its inspiration from California-style fresh mex eateries, where natural and sometimes organic ingredients are prepped daily and served on the quick. And there's lots to like about the place. For starters, these fish tacos (and burritos) are served a bit differently than those at Zona Fresca, in that the fish is not fried, but grilled. What you get is a meaty, juicy piece of Mahi that has some bite to it. The toppings are all very good as well, with whole pieces of fresh avocado, cabbage, shredded jack cheese, and two kinds of sauces (One Fish gets a cilantro crema sort of like the yogurt sauce typical of Baja fish tacos, Two Fish gets a chipotle sauce). The result is something of an even fresher take on Baja tacos -- it's especially good with the shrimp as well (though it'd be nice if TWE chose something local instead of tiger shrimp, which usually arrive from overfished stretches of Southeast Asia).

John Linn
Whole Enchilada's "Bob" burrito is a messy, overstuffed guy.

Other notably great things about TWE: It has a very health- and lifestyle-concious approach to Mexican food. For example, you can substitute your dairy-based sour cream for tofu sour cream on any dish for just $.50 extra, and seared-tofu is always an option in place of ground beef, grilled steak, or grilled chicken. The Bob, seen above, is an overstuffed beast of a burrito filled with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, cheese, rice, beans, and (in this case) grilled steak. It's basically two meals for its $7.50 price tag.

John Linn
The four salsas at the Whole Enchilada's help-yourself salsa bar are a little lackluster.

Any complaints about TWE? Well, yes. The ingredients, while extraordinarily fresh, are sometimes under seasoned -- what those Mahi tacos really need to kick them into the stratosphere is a careful dose of salt. Also, the salsas at TWE are a real disappointment. A roasted tomato salsa, with charred bits exemplary of Baja-style salsas, lacks any real kick in the flavor department. The mango salsa, bottom left in that pic above, is not too sweet and just savory enough. It'd be great if it didn't have the consistency of tap water, which makes it impossible to dunk a chip in and get any significant amount. The same problem plagues the "hot" orange salsa made with habaneros, which is too watery to even come close to spicy. No, the only really satisfying salsa in the bunch is the rather plain, everyday cantina-style tomato salsa, which is only the winner by default.       

If you can get pats those few snags, The Whole Enchilada is definitely worth a visit, and probably a spot in your Mex rotation as well. Check them out at

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