Say ¡Bienvenido! to F&D Cantina Lake Mary
F&D Cantina, the second concept restaurant within the F&D portfolio in Lake Mary, has opened in Colonial TownPark. Owned by Charly Robinson, who also owns F&D Kitchen and Bar (across the street), the gastropub-styled F&D Cantina Lake Mary brings classic Mexican food to North Orlando (along with some classic Tex-Mex mixed in). F&D stands for – guess it – Food & Drink.
Robinson, the former CEO of California-based Real Mex Restaurants, was prior to that the COO of E-Brands Restaurants in Orlando (remember Timpano?).
Clockwise from top left: Mezcalrita, Watermelon Margarita; Mexican Street Corn; “Trio” starter (salsa, guacamole, queso)
Walking in, the first thing that popped into my head was that the decor was reminiscent of Día de los Muertos – in a good way (and not just because I am writing this on the day of the dead). The sultry artwork of a woman in sugar skull makeup, the Tequila display behind the bar – very reminiscent of the Mexican celebration that we Americans love to try and reproduce around Halloween.
Our server was extremely friendly and knowledgeable, and willing to share his expertise on both cocktails and food. We started with margaritas, as to be expected at a Mexican restaurant, and were pleased with both flavor and strength. We got the “Trio” of salsa, guacamole, and queso, of course, to try all of the Tex-Mex staples. It should be noted that the chips were delicious; it is not always easy to find decent tortilla chips! Also, due to my addiction to Elote, or Mexican street corn, that starter was a given – and it did not disappoint. The ratio of grilled corn to the spicy creme and cotija was On. Point.
Interior – F&D Cantina Lake Mary
Though I would have been happy snacking on corn all night, we moved on to entrees. We were torn between multiple items, so ended up basing our decisions off of our servers’ recommendations.
Pictured up top is the Carnitas Board: braised pork shoulder, finished in its own juices, served with tomatillo gravy. This was served with warm tortillas and toppings – essentially, DIY pork shoulder fajitas. The pork was juicy and the gravy was delicious. It was huge – we probably could have shared – but because I’m a sucker, I had to go with the Barbocoa Chimichanga: Savory shredded beef, rice, roasted vegetables, Chihuahua cheese topped with Colorado Sauce, queso, cotija cheese and cilantro.
F&D Cantina’s Colorado Sauce is doled out generously across their menu, and now I see why. Flavorful, a bit smoky, a bit reminiscent of a mole sauce but not quite (they do have a separate mole dish). The chihuahua cheese and pickled red onion set off the shredded beef nicely. It was also bigger than my head.
I mentioned earlier the tequila offerings, that are more than worthy of being recognized. Similar to a brewery, there are three different “flights” available – small tastings of seven different tequilas per flight. The cocktail menu offers more than 40 types of tequila (alongside handcrafted margaritas and cocktails) served in shot form, ranging in price from $6 to $30. We were also told that behind the bar lies higher-end exclusive tequila – for those willing to part with a portion of their salary, there are bottles just waiting to be served.
F&D Cantina Lake Mary is open for lunch and dinner, and located at 1125 Townpark Avenue, Suite 1071, Lake Mary.