Winter Haven: Chile Verde

Jewelry vendor and customer in Winter Haven, FloridaMy wife and I took in an art show in downtown Winter Haven recently.  It was a pleasant morning strolling among the art and craft vendors.  While we were there, we decided to have lunch at the Mexican restaurant Chile Verde.  This used to be a different Mexican restaurant, but when that business relocated, this location was taken over by Chile Verde.

Chile Verde restaurant exterior in Winter Haven, FloridaSomething about the outside of the restaurant made us question whether it was really open until we walked up to check the door.  I think it might be that their landscaping could use a little touching up.

Chile Verde restaurant interior in Winter Haven, FloridaWe were early, there was only one other couple there when we arrived, another thing that contributed to the “empty” look outside the building.  But quite a few more customers had arrived by the time we finished our lunch.  I do like the restaurant’s colorful decor.  Our server was a very friendly gentleman, we enjoyed prompt and pleasant service through the entire meal.  We immediately received the traditional bowl of chips with salsa.  My wife ordered iced tea to drink, and I ordered by traditional Mexican restaurant beverage (when horchata is not available), a Jarritos soft drink (strawberry, in this case).

Tortilla chips and strawberry Jarritos soft drink at Chile Verde restaurant in Winter Haven, FloridaThe menu is a pretty traditional offering of Mexican cuisine.  I ordered a combination meal of 2 enchiladas (cheese for me) with rice and refried beans.  I liked the food, especially the rice and beans.  The enchilada sauce was a little lacking in flavor – I don’t care for really spicy food, but this could have used a little more oomph.

Two cheese enchiladas, rice, and refried beans at Chile Verde restaurant in Winter Haven, FloridaMy wife ordered a combination meal of one beef tamale, one beef enchilada, rice, and refried beans.  She liked the tamales and they appeared to have been made authentically, in a corn husk. Whereas the rice and beans were my favorite part of the meal, she liked the sauce on her entree and felt the beans were a little under-seasoned.

One tamale, one enchilada, rice, and refried beans at Chile Verde restaurant in Winter Haven, FloridaWith tip, our total was almost $30, we felt that was very reasonable for the amount of food we received.  The challenge for Chile Verde is that we have so many good Mexican restaurants in Polk County, it can be hard to stand out.  The food wasn’t quite as flavorful as we’ve had at other local Mexican restaurants, but we still enjoyed the experience, especially the service and ambience.  Chile Verde is on 8th Street North (that’s U.S 17), just south of Havendale Boulevard NW.

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