Food & Drink

Holy mole sauce: Locals recommend their favorite Mexican food in Manatee County

Manatee Eats! Foods in Manatee County

A diverse variety of foods are available in Manatee County, and everyone has their own ideas about what's best.
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A diverse variety of foods are available in Manatee County, and everyone has their own ideas about what's best.

Mexican food has come a long way to arrive at the tacos, enchiladas and tostadas that we love to drench in hot sauce today.

The cuisine has its roots in Mayan and Aztec culture in Central America. From there, recipes were peppered with meats and spices from the Spanish and picked up more regional influences before coming over the border and colliding with Texas cooking to create the Tex-Mex version pedaled at most U.S. restaurants today.

Whether you’re a purist fan of traditional Mexican cooking or you don’t mind your meal being slathered in queso, there’s certainly a lot to explore in the world of modern Mexican food.

We asked members of our Facebook group Manatee Eats for recommendations on where to get the best Mexican food in Bradenton and around the county.

Here’s where they recommend.

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Fresh tortillas are prepared at Acapulco Tropical, a well-known Latin market in Bradenton. Tiffany Tompkins ttompkins@bradenton.com

Acapulco Tropical

This Latin-Caribbean grocery store has two Bradenton locations, and, according to locals, the deli-style counter slings some awesome Mexican comfort food.

Offerings include tacos (traditional and “American style”), enchiladas, tostadas, barbacoa, carnitas and more.

Best of all, the kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Acapulco Tropical is at 3525 First St. E. and 5612 14th St. W. in Bradenton.

Info: acapulcotropicalsupermarket.com.

El Primo Taqueria

Reviewers praise El Primo Taqueria in Bradenton for authentic, tasty and inexpensive Mexican food.

Burritos, flautas, nachos, carne asada, gorditas, quesadillas, tamales and more await.

Don’t forget a helping of Mexican-style flan or tres leches cake.

El Primo Taqueria is at 1111 Manatee Ave. E. in Bradenton.

Info: 941-744-9299.

Doña Betty Tacos

Reviewers rave that Doña Betty’s offers great tacos on the cheap.

It’s no wonder the truck attracts crowds nightly.

Tacos start at $2.15 (tax included) and there are eight different meats to choose from, including beef, seasoned pork, chorizo and barbacoa (beef cheeks).

Aside from tacos, try tortas (a sandwich served on a buttered roll), quesadillas, tostadas and pambazos (a sandwich made with bread dipped in pepper sauce).

Doña Betty Tacos parks at 5510 14th St. W. in Bradenton and is open 9 a.m.-3 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Info: 941-580-4730.

Taqueria Mi Rancho

Taqueria Mi Rancho is a permanently parked taco truck with indoor seating in Bradenton.

Beyond the traditional tacos (topped with cilantro and diced white onions), you’ll find barbacoa, carne asada, chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers), caldo de res (Mexican beef soup), tortas and lots more to try on the menu.

Taqueria Mi Rancho is at 3603 15th St. E. in Bradenton.

Info: 941-748-3060.

Other recommendations:

Habanero’s Mexican Grill and Bar, 5120 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton

Wicked Cantina, 101 Seventh St. N., Bradenton Beach

Mi Pueblo, 8405 Tuttle Ave., Sarasota

The Spot, 2303 First St., Bradenton

Los Laureles Supermarket, 2424 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton

El Tio Carlos at Red Barn Flea Market, 1707 First St. E., Bradenton

Mr. R Tacos, 5905 15th St. E., Bradenton

El Sombrero, 1330 U.S. 301, Palmetto

Alvarez Mexican Restaurant, 1431 Eighth Ave. W., Palmetto

Maria’s Restaurant at Red Barn Flea Market, 1701 First St., Bradenton

El Toro Bravo, 8205 Natures Way, #119, Lakewood Ranch

Sr. Fajitas Mexican Grill, 316 Old Main St., Bradenton

Chilango’s Tacos, 2230 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton

Pollos Asados La Frontera, 1304 Eighth Ave. W., Palmetto

Sarasota County:

Plaza Mexico Bar & Grill, 1894 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota

Las Brisa Tacos y Mariscos, 1156 N. Washington Blvd., Sarasota

Los Portales, 1092 S. Tamiami Trail, Osprey

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