I think the last time I was inside this building, the vast, freestanding structure at 800 E. Altamonte Drive, it was a restaurant called Sam Seltzer’s Steakhouse and the year was 1998. Seltzer’s was a low-end steakhouse that served a pretty good product. But it didn’t last long – its greatest claim to fame was taking on city hall over some fiberglass steers and cows that were set up in front of the restaurant. The city claimed they were attention-getting devices subject to the same rules as signage; Harold Seltzer, the owner, countered they were “amusing lawn ornaments.” Never mind that there wasn’t an actual lawn or that they weren’t particularly amusing.
I don’t remember how it was resolved, but the the cattle of discontentment were eventually driven away when Seltzer’s finally fizzled.
I’m sure there must have been other food businesses in the building in the past 24 years but none caught my attention. Not until Las Lomas Mexican Grill, and really only then because it was the end of the year and I was actively seeking Mexican food to fulfill a seasonal craving.
The menu is extensive – larger than it really needs to be – and does have some genuine Mexican dishes, though it is also chile-peppered with Tex-Mex and other Americanized versions. The food is good and is presented in startlingly large portions.
Of course you should expect big when you order something called Burrito Gigante. It featured a tortilla that if unfolded could probably serves as a placemat stuffed with steak (chicken is an alternative choice), rice, beans, onions, mushrooms and a few other things just to take up more room. It was topped with a red sauce and melted cheese. It was wonderfully gloppy and I ate way too much of it.
I also ordered the Enchiladas Supreme, which gets you four enchiladas – cheese, beef, chicken and bean – topped with a ranchero sauce, cheese, sour cream, lettuce and chopped tomatoes.
One of the best deals on the menu may be the a la carte Tamales, three chicken or pork filled masa-molded mashups steamed in corn husks and served open-faced with sauce and cheese. I liked the denseness of the corn dough.
The order even included some tortilla chips and salsa, though not enough salsa for all of the chips. Still, with all of the food that I had it’s niggling to complain about one shortage.
Las Lomas apparently doesn’t have a website, and the only online menu I could find consisted of glare-y photos of the plastic-covered pages. But the staff I encountered were friendly and good natured.
As I mentioned, it’s a large space and it has been brightly decorated with colorful booths painted with landscaped of Mexico. You might spot a horse or maybe even some cattle.
I hope city hall doesn’t see them.
Las Lomas Mexican Grill is at 800 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs (map). It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-960-7582.