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Residents in Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills and Dade City are continuing to discover one of the area’s most charming restaurants, Plaza Mexico Restaurant Bar & Grill, and keep coming back for its outstanding food and great prices.
“Families love the variety of our menu, and especially enjoy our chimichangas, taco salad and combo specials,” said Hector Alvarez, one of the restaurant’s owners. “It’s great seeing so many new faces in our restaurants every week, especially now as we re-open from the recent COVID-19 shut down.”
Located in Zephyrhills on County Road 54, just east of U.S. 301, Plaza Mexico opened last summer in a beautifully renovated building that features two distinctive dining rooms and a full bar that offers daily drink specials from margaritas, to homemade sangria to Mexican beer.
The Zephyrhills restaurant is one of five Plaza Mexico restaurants in the Southeast, and the only one in Tampa Bay. The small, family-owned chain specializes in traditional Mexican food and decorates with authentic Mexican furniture and colorful decorations. The décor in Zephyrhills is unique with a “Day of the Dead” Mexican theme, which gives the restaurant a softer and more romantic ambiance.
“We care about the good taste of our food, as well as providing our customers with personal, hospitable service. We are proud to be part of the Pasco community, and hope to always make your time with us enjoyable,” said Hector
It is not unusual to see Hector Gallardo and his uncle, Hector Alvarez, working at Plaza Mexico. Both men are owners, who lead from the front and work alongside their employees to ensure professionalism and quality control.
“At most places, the owner just opens the restaurant. They let the people work for them, but here the owners work in the restaurant. That’s one of the things that people like. We have two or three owners working at a time, to make sure that everything is done very professionally,” said Alvarez.”
The menu at Plaza Mexico is extensive with many different choices, including a full page just for seafood, and lots of vegetarian dishes.”
Food is made fresh daily, and some of the recipes have existed for generations within the family. One dish — a popular house special that can be ordered for one or two persons — that Alvarez is particularly proud of is served in a molcajete.
“Molcajete is volcano stone, and we serve the food inside the stone. We put in chicken, steak, shrimp, chorizo—a Mexican sausage—and onions, jalapenos and cactus. Cactus is a traditional food in Mexico. It comes with rice and beans, and a salad. It’s a big plate.”
The menu has authentic versions of the usual Mexican favorites: tacos, fajitas, burritos, quesadillas and enchiladas. And for seafood lovers, there are crab quesadillas, white shrimp enchiladas and ceviche.
“The cerviche is probably one of the plates that is most traditional with Latin people, like Cubans and Peruvians,” Alvarez said. “We make our ceviche a bit spicier, and can be fish or shrimp. We also cook ours before we put in the lime.”
In the mood for something different? Try the mole poblano.
“The mole is a tradition in Mexico,” said Alvarez. “The mole poblano is a sauce that’s made with chocolate and poblano peppers, so it’s kind of sweet, and it’s probably the only sauce that’s sweet compared to the other sauce.”
A popular appetizer is guacamole made fresh tableside from a pushcart.
“Our cart goes around to every table to offer fresh guacamole,” Alvarez said. “It’s a really popular appetizer because it’s made fresh and in front of you.”
Every other Sunday evening, a mariachi band brings a fiesta atmosphere to the restaurant. Plaza Mexico has a private room available for parties, and a full bar with happy hour Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with two-for-one drink specials.
Published June 17, 2020