Monday, August 17, 2009

Carlos 'n Charlie's Review: Let's Get This Party Started With Some Great Food

Carlos ‘n Charlie’s is notorious as party central for college students on Spring Break in Mexico. Think “remember that time I puked in the bathroom of Carlos ‘n Charlie’s in Cancun?” The Aruba location is famous for good times, and as the last place Natalie Holloway partied before she disappeared.

Now I had never visited a Carlos ‘n Charlie’s before, but I got the feeling it was something akin to Sloppy Joe’s in Key West or Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans.

Well, on a Tuesday night, it was more like Joe’s Crab Shack in Sanford.

With six people in the dining room, do the servers really need to jump onto chairs and into an impromptu chicken dance performance? Not so much.

Our sever mentioned the crowd picked up later, and that it was crazy Saturday nights. I hope so. I want this place to make it. The food was great.

My guest and I started with the Nachos ($6.99), a giant plate of fresh-tasting chips smothered with Oaxaca Cheese. Our server called it Mexican Mozzarella. It did remind me of Mozzarella, but creamier, and was a welcome change of pace from the typical nacho, cheddar or Monterey Jack you might expect. The dish was served with beans and sides of guacamole, pico, and sour cream. I’m usually one to indulge my appetite for guacamole, but the pico de gallo was so good, I asked for more.

I chose Beef Fajitas ($13.99) for my main dish, and wasn’t disappointed. The beef was tender and flaky, with not a lot of gristle that is often the bane of flank steak. As usual, the dish was served with grilled onions and peppers and corn or flour tortillas. Oh, and three more dishes of guacamole, sour cream, and that amazing salsa.

My guest chose Madrazo Fish ($12.99), a well-prepared dish of delicate white fish topped with creamed spinach and cheese, with white rice and steamed vegetables on the side.

Service was well above expectations. Our server was friendly, personable, and knowledgeable about the menu. It was really one of the best service experiences I’ve had in a while. Well done Rebeca. And bravo to Carlos ‘n Charlie’s for properly training your staff.

The dining room has the usual assortment of kitchy items and irreverent signage. Think T.G.I. Viernes. But I thought it was all done more tastefully than usual, and seemed classier than you would expect. Must be its location in Heathrow.

Oh, and I almost forgot, there is, of course, a very nice bar that serves up any type of margarita you could imagine. I went with the Cadillac Margarita ($6.50 with $1.00 up charge for 1800 Anejo). And then I went for another. And then, well, I stopped at two. But I’ll be back to party one late night or a Saturday when the chicken dance might seem like a better idea.

4 "Vamos"es out of 5

Carlos ‘n Charlies is located in Heathrow/Lake Mary in the Colonial TownPark, across from Amura’s.

Carlos ‘n Charlie’s
950 Market Promenade Ave.
Lake Mary, FL 3746
(407) 333-3482



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9 comments:

LakeMaryFoodCritic said...

Wow, your experience was sure a lot better than mine. My visit there was filled with long waits, so-so food, and a staff that seemed more interested in partying than in serving the customer. I would not go back based on my one visit. Maybe I hit it on an exceptionally bad night...then again, maybe you hit it on an exceptionally good night. :-)

Eating Orlando said...

Lakemaryfoodcritic,

It's sometimes weird like that. I could go back tomorrow and it be awful. You never know. But hopefully, they've gotten their act together.

Anonymous said...

This by far the worst restuarant I've ever had the displeasure of going to. We had 25 friends and family there last night for my son-in-law's birthday party. The food was garbage - although expensive garbage. Nobody in our entire party enjoyed what they ordered. Maybe if you go there to drink and/ or get drunk, you won't notice just how poor the food quality really is and the service ( what a joke) was horrible. We waited almost 90 minutes for our food and had to ask about where our drinks were about 4 times.
I should have known that these cutsey theme restaurants never have good food but always have waiters and waitresses a lot more concerned about dancing around and acting ridiculous than waiting on their guests at their table.
This place is not going to be open much longer so if you want to have a REALLY BAD dining experience (you don't have to believe me) go there and check it out for yourself.

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Carlos 'n Charlie's Review: Let's Get This Party Started With Some Great Food

Anonymous said...

Any complaints are surely the fault of poor uneducated management. Maybe if they started over with a management team that had a clue the staff turnover wouldn't be 300% and the food and service would be better.

Anonymous said...

The verdict is in: this restaurant has the absolute worst management. The reviews all point to it.

Red Dog said...

Couldn't agree more with anonymous. Who trained this staff?Obviously people who know nothing about the business.

Anonymous said...

I went to Carlos n' Charlie's Saturday night and it was kickin'! Granted, I didn't go there to eat, just to have a few drinks and enjoy the dancing with a few friends. We all had a great time and I can't wait to go again.

Anonymous said...

Nice