I was surprised when my GPS led me to 1375 S. Semoran Blvd. and the Taste of Yucatan. I was pretty sure I’d paid my last visit to this address years ago. And I’d been here many times before.
Over the years, the free-standing building, which began its life as a Captain D’s seafood restaurant, has had many tenants. After the captain ran this particular franchise aground, it became Thai Chili, which in the late ‘90s was part of a then-surging Thai scene.
Then Two Fat Chefs moved in. That was the name of the restaurant, please don’t accuse me of fat shaming. The name was a tongue-in-cheek reference to a popular BBC program at the time called “Two Fat Ladies,” but the corpulent cooks moniker gave no clue to the restaurant’s cuisine, which was Scandinavian.
That was followed by a string of Mexican restaurants: Las Carretas, Casa Rene and Casa Mexico.
Then it became a Church’s Chicken fast fooder. That’s when I figured I’d walked through that door for the last time. Whoever heard of a Church’s Chicken franchise folding?
I don’t know if it actually went out of business or the franchisee just decided to move on. (The property is still listed as owned by a Church’s LLC.) But the conversion has been completed and the kitchen is once again putting out Mexican food.
It has kept the fast food concept, though fast would be a relative thing here. It’s an order-and-pay at the counter process, but you might want to grab a seat while you wait.
And that’s just fine. It’s worth waiting a little longer for food to be done properly.
I started with a Vaporcito (here spelled vaporsito), a Yucatan version of a tamale with beef mixture wrapped in a banana leaf instead of a corn husk. It’s a drier, flatter type of tamal, so you’ll want to get some of the salsa supplied on the counter. (It would be nice if they’d provide little cups for the salsas and other accouterments so diners wouldn’t have to spoon directly onto their food, sometimes, as I witnessed, after they’d had a couple of bites.)
The tacos were the best thing I sampled. I had the Cochinita Pibil and the Barbacoa. Both featured juicy bits of meat, pork and beef, stacked on hot corn tortillas.
The Pollo Adobado that I chose as the filling for the Torta was better than the sandwich as a whole. That’s because the bread was about the size of a full loaf, and the fillings did not match to the volume of bread.
The ordering process is perhaps a bit more confusing than it needs to be. It’s set up as though it will be an assemblage operation — you first choose your conveyance (taco, torta, bowl, quesadilla) then the filling. But you only need to choose the protein, the other ingredients are automatic.
My advice: go with the tacos.
The Taste of Yucatan is at 1375 S. Semoran Blvd., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-704-2248.