Chico's Dirty Tacos & Tequila 

Hearty Tex-Mex builds a strong foundation for margarita-fueled carousing

click to enlarge MAKENNA WHITESIDE
  • Makenna Whiteside

Shots in the dark

Stuck in your cubicle but wishing for surf and sand? Looking for somewhere to fill your gullet before an alcohol onslaught? Chico's Dirty Tacos & Tequila is the closest thing to beach food when you can't get there, and the hearty Tex-Mex serves as a suitable lining for margarita-filled carousing.

The joint has a clear Tijuana vibe, with dizzying colors and tequila bottles lining the walls. Go for the "dirty tacos" ($6.99 plus, depending on your meat choice) and ante up that annoying extra buck for cheese. Steak and chicken options are both dry and practically indistinguishable from each other; avoid them and go for the mahi-mahi. Chico's serves as good a fish taco as you'll find in Orlando, and the pickled cabbage and pico de gallo nestled in the tortilla is deliciously spicy. Black bean soup ($2.99, cup) is too brothy, but you can fix that by ordering an extra side of salsa and dumping it right in the soup. Service is slow but polite – as my server quipped, "Better fresh than never." I'm inclined to agree.

Find yourself at Chico's on a weekday and you might just find some lounge lizards – or in this case, Gila monsters sipping on $3 margaritas. Wednesday night it's free Three Olives drinks for chicks until 10 p.m., when the karaoke starts. As the songs start rollin', the shots start flowin' – and you score a free shot every time you sing.

Adrenaline junkies will jump at the habanero shot, while tequila aficionados may be content to work their way down the list of 80 different varieties listed on the chalkboard behind the bar. Hard-core partiers can drink A-to-Z through the 244 alphabetized tequila shots on offer, all $8 every day. Something for everyone.

Chico's Dirty Tacos & Tequila

50 E. Central Blvd.

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