Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

El Tenampa in Kissimmee

“So where are you eating tonight? asked Alessandro, and we told him El Tenampa. His face lit up with a huge smile. “You’re going to love it!” he said. “Do you like spicy food?”

Oh yes. Yes, we do.

El Tenampa is a challenge. It is the highest rated Mexican restaurant in the Kissimmee/Disney/Lake Buena Vista area, but commenters on Google and Urban Spoon have complained about the service, the waiting time to be seated, the long wait for dinner, not understanding what was on the menu . . . as good as the food is, there were a lot of complaints.

It’s Orlando. Running a restaurant in Orlando must be a nightmare. Thousands of people from all over the world, and everyone wants service. What incentive is there to provide top-notch customer service when you know these people are passing through and you will never see them again? What incentive is there to be first-rate when many of them are poor tippers – by US standards – or just plain cheap? We went to El Tenampa fully aware that it might be problematic.

It was anything but.

It is hard to find, even though it is right on the main drag, it has poor signage. It shares a building with La Hacienda Meat Market and is next door to the India Diner and the Rodeway Motel . . . it all kinda looks low rent.

“Don’t mind how it looks from the outside,” Alessandro warned us. “It’s different inside.”

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Marco, at the door, greeted us warmly and sat us right away. There was a lot going on, family parties, one of nearly twenty people, several large groups, but lots of booths and tables. The place LOOKS chaotic, but we got our drinks and menus right away, chips, salsa and guacamole very shortly and our dinners within a reasonable time. The wait staff was hopping – very busy – but we never felt slighted or neglected.

The menu was inclusive, and the food was fabulous. Marco told us it was a slow night, which meant that you could walk right in and have a table, no waiting.

AdventureMan ordered a la carte, a carnitas tostado and a tamale and salad; I had the pescado Veracruz, steamed in foil with spices and vegetables, oh wow.

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Well worth the trip. Great food, great service and a great atmosphere, all decorated for the day of the dead/Halloween.

Our bill was a shock. All that great food, and the bill was under $25. Amazing.

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October 25, 2013 Posted by | Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips | , , , | Leave a comment

God-With-A-Sense-of-Humor at King O Felafel in Orlando

After driving seven and a half hours to get to the convention hotel, AdventureMan and I needed dinner! We settled in to our hotel and took a quick look at the menu – nope. We needed something comforting, something familiar. And there it was, just one minute, I am not kidding, from our hotel, the King O Felafel.

God-with-a-sense-of-humor had plopped us splat down in a hotel in the middle of Middle-Eastern-Land. Minutes from Disney, minutes from all the shoddy tackiness of Orlando, we find ourselves “home.”

The King O Felafel’s shop was full of regulars, including one very large family taking up about five tables all put together, and having a wonderful time. The King himself makes his own felafels, using that little felafel making tool, he was so quick. The was clean clean clean, and service was quick.

We started with lentil soup, and I ordered the Vegetarian Platter (which was like a mezze) and AdventureMan ordered a Felafel Sandwich.

Oh, how we have been yearning for the simple joy of a felafel sandwich done right. The King O Felafel was heaven for us.

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Thank goodness I remembered to take a picture before we demolished the entire platter!

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So simple, so good. A homemade felafel. Perfection.

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This shop is not undiscovered. He has a large clientele of all kinds of people who appreciate superb food, beautifully and tastily prepared.

Across the street from the King O Felafel is a mosque which also has a gym and a meeting hall. There are several other ‘Mediterranean’ restaurants nearby, and several hookah lounges. There are so many shops in this little area of Kissimmee with ‘halal’ foods and even groceries selling halal meats. Wow.

Mosque – my photo was blurry, so I grabbed this from Google Maps. I guess it used to be a computer shop; now it has arabic writing on it and a sign that says it is the AMYL Center (Masjid Shadi)

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October 25, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Humor, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | 15 Comments