Saturday, January 23, 2010


After hearing of some good reviews, a few of us decided to try Vamonos for lunch the other day. Coworkers Dale, Bob, and I got there a bit before noon on a gorgeous Lake Mary Friday recently. Vamonos was not very busy, and certainly not as busy as some of the more "formal" restaurants around. However, I found it a warm and friendly place with a pleasant decor. The food there is somewhat reminiscent of what you'd have at Qdoba or Chipotle, with one big digression: the choice of proteins. They have a very imaginative menu of about 7 or so different proteins, fish, pork, chicken, and beef, prepared in a variety of ways. I liked that.

The meal selection is pretty basic: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, salad, or a platter. But the meat selections are great:
  • Chicken -- Marinated grilled chicken.
  • Arrachera -- Marinated grilled steak.
  • Chuleta -- Marinated grilled pork chop.
  • Fish -- Grilled fish in Mayan adobo sauce.
  • Pastor -- Pork loin broided on a vertical skewer.
  • Tinga -- Chicken stewed with fresh onion, tomato, and a hint of chipotle.
  • Barbacoa -- Sonora styel shredded braised beef.
  • Cochinita Pibil -- Mayan style pulled pork loin. 
Oh, and all their tortillas--flour and corn--are homemade. They also advertise using only fresh ingredients without preservatives. I will say, everything tasted very fresh.

I decided to try the tostadas so that I could try three different meats. In retrospect, I'd choose tacos next time only because they are easier and a bit less messy to eat. However, the tostadas were very good. A very thin layer of refried black beans was topped with my meats of choice, one each of the Tinga, Barbacoa, and Cochinita Pibil. I had mine simply dressed with one of their salsas and some romaine lettuce. Once at my table, I did pull them apart a bit to sample the meats. Each was very good. Of special note, I liked the bit of extra sweetness that was in the Barbacoa, the braised beef. But each was very good in its own right. To get the full experience, I also sampled their various salsas from the salsa bar (yes, help yourself!). Whew! One of them was very hot! But they were all generally good and all interesting. I think perhaps next time I'd get tacos and put my own sauces on, just to experiment. I don't know that I could declare a favorite. I will worn the wimps out there: test a little bit first, some have a bit of heat! The menu does warn about the heat level, though. I also ordered the Aguas Frescas, an all natural fruit water flavored with Jamaica--it was good and refreshing and about as expensive as a soft drink but without the refills, of course. Still, it was good. They also have an assortment of beer by the bottle.

My friend Dale ordered a burrito. She was not that impressed, saying it was comparable to Qdoba or Chipotle. I think maybe it was the meat, but who knows. It was a pretty good size however. Her dining experience was marred a bit when she asked for guacamole and they gave her a side but then charged $1.99 for it. When she then declined, they were unable to take the charge off because the manager was not there. That was quite odd, I thought. I cannot imagine running a place without someone of some authority in charge. Later the clerk did give her the money back, but in cash, saying they were not able to credit the card she's used for the purchase. A bit strange. I think perhaps some better procedures and training are needed in that regard.

Bog ordered a quesadilla and pronounced it very good. He said he'd go back again and thought it better than other comparable places. He also ordered the guacamole--they made sure he knew there was an upcharge ahead of time, several times!--and also a Cheese Chicharron, melted cheese rolled up into a crispy shell. I sampled the guacamole and thought it a bit on the bland size, though it's possible my taste buds were still reeling from the extra-hot salsa habanero I'd had! The cheese chicharron was interesting, and was good.

All in all, I enjoyed my food and would like to go back, if only to sample some of the other proteins. I like the various salsas and the salsa bar. I'd put Vamonos a step above the Qdoba and Chipotle chains, and also a bit ahead of the Florida chain of Tijuana Flats which does have a nice hot sauce selection but is a bit more pricey, I'd say. but they are both a bit different. My total here for the tostadas and the aguas frescas was about $9, not a bad value for what I got, good eats!
VĂ¡monos on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I gave this place a try the other day. My burrito was tasty, but they were out of most of the menu. Out of all the meats, they only had three available. It also turned out they were out of many of the other toppings for the burrito. It was okay for what it was, but I don't know if I'd go out of my way to return...