Secret samplings: La Catrina Tacos and Tequila Bar serves phenomenal food, drink, atmosphere

By Lee Wardlaw lee@claytodayonline.com
Posted 11/22/22

MIDDLEBURG – From the outside, it seems like just another establishment. But make no mistake: La Catrina Tacos and Tequila Bar is no ordinary eatery.

When you walk inside, you quickly notice …

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Secret samplings: La Catrina Tacos and Tequila Bar serves phenomenal food, drink, atmosphere

Posted

MIDDLEBURG – From the outside, it seems like just another establishment. But make no mistake: La Catrina Tacos and Tequila Bar is no ordinary eatery.

When you walk inside, you quickly notice they are cooking down-home, fresh-to-order, Mexican-style favorites, which is why they already are recognized as one of the premier restaurants in the southern part of the county.

After Clay County residents give La Catrina the full go-round, they may not only find it to be one of the most underrated eateries inside the large plaza featuring 11 businesses but perhaps the best in and around Middleburg.

The first of the five senses that might draw you in: the aroma. The pleasant aurora of the fresh ingredients of the Mexican food can be detected from as far away as 50 yards away in the parking lot.

Then, the next sense: sound, which will be activated once you get closer to the door where customers can relax to the soft, soothing Mexican soul music playing from La Catrina’s inconspicuous speakers.

But that’s just the beginning. The experience will engage all five senses. La Catrina opened its first restaurant in St. Augustine, and that proved to be so successful, it expanded to Middleburg in mid-October.

The store frontage is decorated with Christmas-style bulb lights lining the ceiling of the open-air breezeway that houses La Catrina and several other shops.

Diners are greeted by two real-life, artistic depictions of human beings dressed in Dia De Muertos (Day of the Dead) themed garb, both figures which are attached to two benches right outside the restaurant.

Before a friendly staff member finds your seat, take a moment to enjoy the beautiful artwork ordaining the walls of La Catrina’s, which is easily discernible throughout the establishment. A psychoactive rainbow of color is apparent at all corners within.

The work, which was perhaps crafted by a highly-paid professional artist features authentic depictions of Mexican culture that jump out at customers while they enjoy chowing down on fresh-to-serve antojitos, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, nachos or other hot-off-the-grill menu item favorites that would perhaps be best coupled with a glass of wine or specialty margarita cocktail.

The “stars of the show” include three standout portraits – two of women and one of a man. On the left wall, Dia De Muertos is apparent, with beautiful flowers painted alongside the lady. Then, another in an Indian headdress, perhaps depicting Aztec times of old. Last but not least, the man is a singer donning a sombrero, whose eyes seem intent on singing another hit Salsa song.

If that’s not enough, the bar table and leg space are custom-set with maze-like circles that should enthrall customers of all ages. 12-point, black, star-like light structures hang down to provide additional brightness.

But let’s face it. The biggest reason you’d come to La Catrina is the food.

Customers are treated to a large and diverse food and drink menu, which could make an especially nice option for those looking to mix it up and try something new.

All sorts of Mexican classics are on the menu, but if you want to go for a flavor bomb, try three (or more) of the specialty tacos. Seven options are available, but while I was visiting, server Jaylin’s recommended the surf and turf (grilled steak and shrimp, topped with avocado and sriracha mayo), Mr. Papa (grilled potatoes and chorizo, topped with pico de gallo and queso fresco) and the Chinola ribeye (ribeye steak topped with house chimichurri, pico de gallo, and queso fresco).

If you want to keep it simple, stick with the 210 Burritos, with the star item featuring two flour tortillas stuffed with ground beef, nacho cheese and ranchero sauce.

There are 22 brands of tequila, seven versions of handcrafted drinks and nine options of Cerveza Mexicana (Mexican Beer) for customers looking to kick it back after a long day’s work. The recommendations were spot-on.

If that’s not enough, make sure to come in during lunch hours where they serve 11 hearty, warm and budget-friendly menu options that should especially make for a treat during the cold winter months, including tacos, quesadillas or burritos with a side of delicious and filling rice and beans.

At the end of the day, the menu truly has something for everybody, whether that be adults, children, vegetarians, big or small-budget spenders and even those simply looking to enjoy an adult beverage or sweet-toothed Mexican dessert such as churros.

La Catrina Tacos and Tequila could make the perfect occasion for lunch, dinner, takeout, a birthday party, date night or game day. If you’re watching Gators, Seminoles, Knights, Hurricanes, Jaguars or other favorite football teams, just make sure to sit at the bar, where the gigantic, lone flat-screen television sits, which underneath includes a shelf lined with a plethora of alcoholic beverages.

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