By JT Thompson

I have been hearing locals talk about LUPITA’S Mexican Restaurant for a while, saying they get lunch there and how the food is authentic Mexican. Having grown up in the Southwest, I know authentic Mexican food and am usually disappointed by the ‘gringo’ versions you often find. Mexican food is not hard to make, but it takes quality ingredients and everything should be homemade.

Well, Saul and Norma Castañeda opened LUPITA’S Mexican Restaurant a year ago, and that’s exactly what their philosophy is. Gregory and I went there, just off Flagler on Bertha, finding the place not overly lit, beautifully laid out, with soothing indigenous music and a staff that is genuinely friendly and love what they do… sharing their family recipes with you!

Saul reminded us that EVERYTHING is homemade from scratch… and that he is always glad to customize any dish on their extensive menu to include whatever ingredients you desire. That’s unique in itself for Mexican restaurants! We started with the Guacamole & Chips (6.95) with a perfect mix of chunky, uber-fresh ingredients… so delicious it would make a great lunch by itself. but, no, the treats keep coming… Saul brings over a cup of Mexican Cheese Dip, (7.95) that’s hot, creamy, rich and topped with crumbled homemade Chorizo Sausage. If they get the basics this right, the next dish is bound to be awesome.

And it was. Saul brought 3 styles of Tacos Mexicanos (2.75 each) and they are smaller than most tacos, but on homemade tortillas, with delightful fillings like Salmon, Pulled Pork and Beef Tongue. They were all delicious, but Gregory and I were both surprised how savory the Tongue Tacos were… fill in your own punch line. Possibly the best item on their menu, order them and be blown away. You haven’t had Tongue till you try these! All the Tacos were accompanied by a spicy Chipotle Mayo Sauce and Sour Cream… and all of it was perfect.

Saul also brought us 2 Enchiladas. Gregory had the Chicken, and I had the Crab & Shrimp (both 14.95). They were plump and moist, fillings so tender they melted in your mouth… and a Green Chile/Tomatillo/Jalapeño Sauce poured over them. At first bite, this sauce bites you back… Gregory actually broke out ion a sweat… but as you take the next few bites, the endorphins start flowing and you find yourself powering through the heat and loving every bit of it.

Lastly, Saul brought us Chiles Rellenos (15.95) which are Poblano Peppers stuffed with Cheese and topped  with Salsa… then pick your choice of meat… Chicken, Pork, Beef or Shrimp/Crab. The Poblano Pepper is so mild and sweet, it is the ideal container for these delightful ingredients. Portions on all these dishes are not huge, but they are just right, allowing you to enjoy several other items together. Kind of like… Tapitas?

We finished with the sweet and creamy Homemeade Flan… so delicious Gregory actually licked the plate. it’s hard to overstate how delightful LUPITA’S menu is… you simply need to go there and be thrilled yourself.

And if you are out looking for a vew treat this week, on Thursday, Nov. 14 & Friday, Nov. 15, they are celebrating their one year anniversary by importing Pepe Franco from Texas to serenade guest with his guitar and vocals both nights.

They also do catering for all kinds of events, and they are happy to deliver for free in Key West. They also offer daily lunch specials starting at 7.95… and are open from 9AM to 9PM, with carry-out till 10PM. Located mid-island at 1500 Bertha Avenue (295-2616), they are near just about everyone. Stop by and at least take a menu to see the wide variety of classic dishes. There’s something for every taste, and every piece is homemade from scratch… con mucho amor. Reservations aren’t needed, just come by… and discover LUPITA’S!


[livemarket market_name="KONK Life LiveMarket" limit=3 category=“” show_signup=0 show_more=0]