The Food Issue: Caliente Clearwater — Mexican and Latin food in Northern Pinellas

Two locals spill Clearwater's most flavorful and authentic dining destinations with Latin roots.

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click to enlarge Media Luna. - Jasmine Osmond
Jasmine Osmond
Media Luna.

There are more than 24,000 Hispanic-Latino people living in the Clearwater-Largo-Dunedin area, according to the 2010 U.S Census.

“The actual number is significantly higher,” says Sandra Lyth, CEO of the InterCultural Advocacy Institute Hispanic Outreach Center, an agency that assists local immigrants.

The cultural influx has infused Clearwater’s culinary landscape with flavorful, distinct foods, and Latin restaurants have popped up throughout northern-central Pinellas, serving hard-to-find items from several cultures — the majority being Colombian, Puerto Rican and Mexican.

“They provide our community with a wonderful array of international cuisine if you are willing to look for it,” Lyth says.

Clearwater City Auditor and Hispanic-Latino Liaison Robin Gomez has his favorites, too.

“There are some very good authentic and unique Mexican cuisines, notably from the State of Hidalgo, Mexico, the origin of many of our Hispanic-Latino population in Clearwater, including myself,” he says.

We thought we’d go straight to these invaluable sources to find out which eateries, according to them, offer the best, most authentic and delicious Latin fare in Clearwater.

Real del Monte Both Gomez and Lyth recommend the restaurant at the apex of Cleveland and Gulf to Bay for its Mexican pasties. “The Cornish pasty is famous in the Hidalgo silver mines located in the capital city of Pachuca, and just to the North in the small town of Real del Monte,” Gomez says. 1417 Cleveland St., 727-851-4812.

Lakeview Grill Another recommendation from both Gomez and Lyth. “If you want huitlacoches [a fungus of the mushroom family that grows on corn], that is where to find it. I eat there all the time,” Lyth says. Gomez adds, “Very authentic dishes, including delicious barbacoa on weekends.” 1510 Lakeview Road, 727-443-3738.

La Cabaña del Tío “You enter a small eatery in Central México complete with the employees making tortillas by hand,” according to Gomez. 1709 Drew St., 727-466-0504.

Media Luna “Excellent!” Lyth says, adding that she enjoys the entire menu at the cafe and market. 1100 S. Myrtle Ave., 727-449-1940.

Tequila’s Mexican Grille & Cantina This downtown restaurant, conveniently located near government buildings and en route to and from the beach, is the Hispanic Outreach Center staff favorite, according to Lyth. “I like the papas relleños and chicken quesadilla,” she adds. 401 S. Fort Harrison Ave., 727-461-6949.

Mexico Lindo “We like the tacos,” Lyth says of this supermarket and restaurant. “My favorite is al pastor. The tortas are very popular as well, and one of their specialties is pollos enchiladas made with chicken, guajillo sauce and nopales. It is a dish straight from the state of Hidalgo.” 812 Court St., 727-443-5892.

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