Lakeland: Abuelo’s

Abuelo's Mexican restaurant exterior in Lakeland, FloridaAbuelo's Mexican restaurant interior in Lakeland, FloridaMy wife and I recently had dinner at Abuelo’s at Lakeside Village in south Lakeland.  We had been once before, but it was some time ago and my memory was rusty.  Abuelo’s is a small chain, founded in Amarillo, Texas, in 1989.  They currently list 39 restaurants in 13 states.  (I tend to prefer small chains to larger ones – rapid growth sometimes diminishes quality.)  On the Sunday evening we visited, the restaurant seemed quite busy but we only had to wait a few minutes for a booth.

Tortilla chips and salsa at Abuelo's Mexican restaurant in Lakeland, FloridaThe interior is beautifully designed, reminding me of a hacienda, with columns and arches, paintings and a fountain.  (Maybe the estate of a prosperous grandfather?  Abuelo = grandfather in Spanish.)  Abuelo’s has an extensive menu of Tex Mex, fajitas, and house specialties featuring beef, chicken, pork and seafood.  We were a little disappointed with the God-awful (electronic dance?) music that was playing on the sound system.  The style seemed completely inappropriate to the otherwise classy venue and the volume was a little too loud for us to have an easy conversation.  On the plus side, our server did a great job, very pleasant and reliable through the entire meal.  Also, the pre-meal chips came with 3 varieties of salsa – I’m not even a salsa fan, but I appreciate that Abuelo’s offered those choices.Taco, tamale, and enchilada at Abuelo's Mexican restaurant in Lakeland, Florida

I ordered 2 cheese enchiladas topped with chile con carne sauce (there are several options to choose from), with rice and refried beans.  My wife ordered the Del Rio, a Tex Mex dish that comes with a taco, beef enchilada, tamale, with rice and refried beans.  We both had unsweet iced tea to drink.

Cheese enchiladas with rice and refried beans at Abuelo's Mexican restaurant in Lakeland, FloridaWe didn’t have to wait long for our food.  But it was delicious.  Everything was well presented and tasty.  My wife’s tamale came with the corn husk it was prepared in, a nice touch I haven’t seen at some other Mexican restaurants.  The chile con carne sauce on my enchiladas was not too spicy, perfect for me.  My wife especially liked the sauce that came on her tamale and enchilada.  The rice and beans were flavorful.

With tip, our total bill came to about $36, which seemed very reasonable considering the quality of food and service we received.  We would love to see them reconsider their music selection, but otherwise it was an excellent experience.  We definitely recommend Abuelo’s and look forward to returning ourselves.  Abuelo’s is on the south side of Lakeside Village, near the Polk Parkway.

If we’ve inspired you to visit Abuelo’s, or if you’ve already been and want to share your experience, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  And if you have Polk County restaurant tips, please let us know via the Contact Us page.  Thanks for visiting and happy eating!

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