Finding quality Mexican food in my hometown is like dishing out a needle in a haystack. Tacos, nachos, burritos are difficult to find in Manila. Many attempt, but miserably fail. I tried hopping from restaurants, old and new. But the search ends, in Google terms, with no result. Therefore, a top priority during this trip to the US is to find great tasting and reasonable Mexican fare.

My Introduction to Tijuana Flats

During our weekend in South Florida, we constantly passed by a store called "Tijuana Flats". All we saw from the roadside was the signage. At first, I thought it was an agency for vacation rentals in Mexico. But as we drove around it the next day, we found out it was a Mexican food chain. We were apprehensive about it being Tex-Mex. That could not be authentic. But on our last night in Palm Beach County, we wanted something near and fast. We ventured to the unknown and came in.

The hip, colorful and the explosive

The hip, colorful and explosive interiors of Tijuana Flats

Mike, the manager, met us at the counter. He found out that it was our first time at Tijuana Flats. He asked us for our preferred drinks, and if we wanted some chips and dip. As soon as we said yes, he quickly led us to our table. He gave us menus, and some time to glance over them.

The Tijuana Flats' Menu

The Tijuana Flats' Menu

Within minutes, he came out with my sweet tea and J's draft Dos Equis. Quite frankly, this signage did J in.

Dos Equis On Tap

Dos Equis On Tap

The Grub at Tijuana Flats

With those came our complimentary chips and dips - The Tijuana Trio. The chips had guacamole, salsa and cheese sauce on the side. I was hungry and started crunching on the chips nonstop.

Chips, Guacamole and Salsa all made onsite

TIjuana Flats' Chips and Dips

I looked over my shoulder and found the Hot Bar. This was definitely the center of attention in any Tijuana Flats branch. I was in awe with all the hot sauce you could think of in this lifetime! Ready for the taking, as much as you want! All different levels of "hotness", different blends, influences from various cuisines. The store's flagship brand is called, "Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally". If that doesn't catch your attention, I don't know what will!

The Center of Tijuana Flats' Show

Tijuana Flats' Hot Bar

Mike vigorously poured us drinks, replenished our chips and dips. He guided us through the menu, gave his recommendations on what we should try on the Hot Bar. He made us feel right at home.

I ordered the Chicken and Bean Flautas, grilled chicken, refried beans and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla, and lightly fried till golden crispy.

chickenflautas-tijuanaflats

Chicken and Bean Flautas ($6.79)

My order came with six pieces of Chicken and Bean Flautas, a generous side salad, an amazing and zesty cheese sauce, sour cream and guacamole. It is helpful to know that you could customize your order however you wanted. Flour or whole wheat tortilla, go regular or lowfat on your cheese or sour cream. Or make it wet for an additional 99c.

Mike also told us that vegetables are sourced locally. Meats are hormone and antibiotic free. The chips, salsa and guacamole are produced fresh and onsite, each and every day.  It is more than you could ever ask for from a fast food chain.

The Tijuana Flats' Story

I get home and start reading up on Tijuana Flats' story, which you can find here.  Brian Wheeler, a guy out of college, with his fascination of hot sauce and Mexican food, created the brand. Soon thereafter, he got financiers on board. And he caught his biggest fish, when he baited his father to bite into his business. Tijuana Flats is big on sourcing food locally. True to form, the jalapeno was so fresh, it was soooo spicy!

Its Tijuana Flats Foundation called Just in Queso keeps in touch with the community around it. It is big on giving back, and I think that's beautiful. They sponsor teachers, veterans, students in fund raising activities. With its well rounded corporate culture, it has branched out into 120 stores strong in 6 states across the country.

If I talk about this chain, I will unceasingly rave about the service. This fast casual concept is more than meets the eye. The interior won't give itself away. You would not think that you will find service that will go out of its way as it did in Tijuana Flats. The manager walks us to our table. He refilled our drinks and was attentive to our orders. He explained the items on the menu in detail. We got the drinks and chips and dips on the house. That's $10 in total savings, just because they wanted to welcome us as Tijuana Flats first timers.

I wish all fastfood stores are the same, but by saying that, I am dreaming wide awake. A big shout out to Mike, the manager at the Sunshine Square location on Boynton Beach. You rock! You have turned me into a Tijuana Flats groupie. I promise to be back again very soon!

Tijuana Flats
Sunshine Square, 1725 S Federal Hwy,
Boynton Beach, FL 33435
(561)7354946
https://tijuanaflats.com
 

P.S. This article was originally published on my personal blog, Chowpowwows, where chow is always on the lowdown.

Published by Michelle Africa