Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Business

Everybody's Business: A Mexican restaurant and a tapas bar settle into Carrollwood

CARROLLWOOD

After two years of success in Winter Springs, a Mexican restaurant has opened a second location in Carrollwood.

Señor Tequila opened in May on N Dale Mabry Highway, beside the IHOP just south of Hudson Lane.

Owner Alvaro Mellado started in the restaurant industry as a server and worked his way through the business prior to opening his own.

"He worked extra hours, in every position from dishwasher to the kitchen," said Señor Tequila general manager Jose Acosta.

When Mellado met chef Manuel Gonzalez while working together in a kitchen, the two began collaborating on ideas for their own restaurant.

To test customers' reactions to their food, they sold carnitas (diced pork) and steak from a street cart, catering to the after-hours crowd in Winter Springs, north of Orlando.

By 2010, Mellado had saved enough to open his first Señor Tequila in Winter Springs Town Center, with chef Gonzalez at the helm. But the place was small and they were competing with a Tijuana Flats in the same shopping center. Within the year, they moved to a larger location where they doubled their customers and sales, Acosta said.

Acosta was a manager at a golf resort when he met Mellado through a mutual friend.

"I come from New Mexico, so I'm picky when it comes to Mexican food," Acosta said. "When I came to eat at his restaurant, I thought, 'This is pretty good.' "

Acosta signed on as general manager to help open the Tampa restaurant, which specializes in authentic Mexican food and signature margaritas.

"We serve over 100 different kinds of tequila," Acosta said.

Margaritas range from $6.99 to $25, including a 45-ounce and a 60-ounce margarita for sharing.

The Fire Mangorita is made with mango and has a chili powder rim and a splash of Tabasco. The True Blue organic margarita features Herradura Tequila and agave nectar, while the Skinny Margarita is made with fresh-squeezed fruit.

Dinner entrees range from $8.99 to $17.99 and include standard Mexican fare like enchiladas, burritos and fajitas as well as ribeye steak dishes and a Mexican paella with fish and shrimp. The restaurant's signature Guacamole Mexicano features fresh avocado, cilantro, onion, tomato and jalapenos.

The menu, developed by Mellado and Gonzalez, is the same at both locations.

"Our goal is to build more and stay consistent with the food and drinks," Acosta said.

Señor Tequila is at 11115 N Dale Mabry Highway. It's open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call (813) 280-9955, or visit senortequilamexicanrestaurant.com.

Elizabeth Miller can be reached at [email protected]

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