Moe's Southwest Grill

Restaurant Details

There's only so much you can do with beans, cheese, rice and a tortilla. It might be called by different names -- burrito, taco, fajita -- but unless the layers are put together well and the ingredients taste distinctly fresh, it's all pretty much beans, cheese and rice.

Seven years ago Atlanta businessman Martin Sprock opened the first location of what would become the 140-store Planet Smoothie chain. Moe's Southwest Grill, on the ever-expanding food corridor of Sand Lake Road, is Orlando's first taste of Sprock's latest endeavor, serving freshly made tortilla-wrapped ingredients with unusual names. The chain already has spread from Atlanta to Jacksonville, Mississippi and North Carolina. "No freezer, no microwave" is a boast the restaurant makes, and it claims to prepare everything from scratch.

Seven years ago Atlanta businessman Martin Sprock opened the first location of what would become the 140-store Planet Smoothie chain. Moe's Southwest Grill, on the ever-expanding food corridor of Sand Lake Road, is Orlando's first taste of Sprock's latest endeavor, serving freshly made tortilla-wrapped ingredients with unusual names. The chain already has spread from Atlanta to Jacksonville, Mississippi and North Carolina. "No freezer, no microwave" is a boast the restaurant makes, and it claims to prepare everything from scratch.

Paintings o f people such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon look down on you while you eat, complete with sayings like "Give Beans a Chance." There's sort of a Subway sandwich-shop approach to the meals. Once ordered, food is built in front of customers, with choices of add-ons like hot salsa, olives and fresh cilantro. Sounds good -- better, actually, than the finished product. There's not much about the fillings, including the meats (chicken, steak) and tofu (a pleasant surprise), that make them stand out. A sprinkling of cold cheese on top of cold beans isn't terribly exciting, no matter how clever the names.

Paintings o f people such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon look down on you while you eat, complete with sayings like "Give Beans a Chance." There's sort of a Subway sandwich-shop approach to the meals. Once ordered, food is built in front of customers, with choices of add-ons like hot salsa, olives and fresh cilantro. Sounds good -- better, actually, than the finished product. There's not much about the fillings, including the meats (chicken, steak) and tofu (a pleasant surprise), that make them stand out. A sprinkling of cold cheese on top of cold beans isn't terribly exciting, no matter how clever the names.

Most of Moe's items are named after TV or movie characters. "Art Vandalay" ($4.69), a vegetarian mix of rice, beans, cheese, salsa and guacamole, is from "Seinfeld." The "Pinky Tuscadero" salad ($4.99) is a throwback to "Happy Days," while the "Sherman Klump" ($2.99), a cheese and salsa quesadilla, reminded Sprock of "The Nutty Professor."

Most of Moe's items are named after TV or movie characters. "Art Vandalay" ($4.69), a vegetarian mix of rice, beans, cheese, salsa and guacamole, is from "Seinfeld." The "Pinky Tuscadero" salad ($4.99) is a throwback to "Happy Days," while the "Sherman Klump" ($2.99), a cheese and salsa quesadilla, reminded Sprock of "The Nutty Professor."

Quesadillas are actually the best thing on the menu; a quick toss on a hot grill makes the ingredients come together inside the now-crunchy shell.

Quesadillas are actually the best thing on the menu; a quick toss on a hot grill makes the ingredients come together inside the now-crunchy shell.

By definition, fajitas ($6.99 to $7.99) include grilled onions and peppers, but not at Moe's: If you don't order them (for an extra 80 cents), all you get is steamed tortillas and a dish of meat, lettuce, salsa and cheese. Moe's breaks away from the salsa-bar trend and offers only two; a green tomatillo and a hot sauce that looked so watery I was afraid to touch it.

By definition, fajitas ($6.99 to $7.99) include grilled onions and peppers, but not at Moe's: If you don't order them (for an extra 80 cents), all you get is steamed tortillas and a dish of meat, lettuce, salsa and cheese. Moe's breaks away from the salsa-bar trend and offers only two; a green tomatillo and a hot sauce that looked so watery I was afraid to touch it.

It's up to the frozen margaritas to make most of the menu items more exciting.

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