Friday, March 20, 2009

Chevy's Vs. Abuelo's

Back when I lived in Chicago, I learned how to love good Mexican food. Or perhaps I should say, good authentic Mexican food. I liked some of the Americanized stuff, too, like the old Chi Chi's chain, but it wasn't in the same league with good old-fashioned Mexican home cooking from the neighborhood restaurants. Actually, there is one local chain called Pepe's that is usually quite good, depending on the owner/manager. They even had sopa de fideo for a very short time, although most Americans are clueless as to what that is so I was probably the only one ordering it.

In Florida, I've rarely found authentic Mexican food, other than one little hole in the wall (aren't those always the best?) way out past the airport. For close-by food, we contented ourselves for a long time with Chevy's. Mind you, I love Chevy's, but most of it is not authentic by any stretch of the imagination (portabello fajitas? nope!). The only problem is that Chevy's is located on the other side of Disney World, at the Crossroads just outside the Lake Buena Vista gate. That means the special hell of navigating a section of I-4 that is usually akin to a parking lot. As an alternate, you can play "dodge the tourists" by driving across Disney property, complete with the Downtown Disney stoplight gauntlet. Either way, getting in and out of the Crossroads shopping center with a traffic light that stays green for maybe 3 seconds is an adventure all on its own. Still, we did it pretty often because my appetite for Mexican food is insatiable.

Then, one happy day, a new restaurant arose from the ground next door to BJ's Brewhouse over at the Loop shopping center. At first I thought the sign said "Aurelio's," and I nearly fainted as that's one of my favorite Chicago pizza chains. Alas, they hadn't expanded over to Florida. It was Abuelo's, apparently a Mexican restaurant. I didn't hold up much hope, but it went on the "Try eventually" list.

Eventually took quite a while, since BJ's tends to draw us in. Finally one day I had a wild taste for Mexican, so we have Abuelo's a go. Mmmmmmmm! Delicious! Still not as authentic as a Mexican neighborhood in Chicago, but moreso than Chevy's and so much easier to get to. Not that I like it more than Chevy's...I like them equally in their own ways. But the simple drive down Osceola Parkway is so much easier than I-4 Hell.

For a long time we stuck with Abuelo's, even though my mind would wistfully turn to Chevy's seafood enchilada once in awhile, as Abuelo's has no equivalent. Then Chevy's sent me a coupon and it finally drew hubby and I to make the dreaded journey. The internet said that I-4 was clear....wrong. We inched along, watching snails jog by us, until we finally got to the Lake Buena Vista exit. As we pulled into the Chevy's parking lot, I imagined that if we had gone to Abuelo's, in the same length of time we'd probably already have been tucking into our main course. Thankfully we managed to beat the dinner crowd, and I ordered my favorite enchilada, along with a fish taco since those are the current special. It felt so good to chow down on my old favorite...but, surprisingly, not quite as good as I thought. I had honestly thought that going back to Chevy's would remind me of why I loved it and draw me back for more. But as good as their food is, the drive was so miserable that all I could think is, "Now I see why we've switched to Abuelo's."

I felt a bit melancholy on the way home (although at least I-4 had cleared up some). Chevy's had been a staple for us ever since the days when Duloc Manor was still being built and we'd come down to FL for weekend progress checks. At that time, the Loop had been a cow pasture, and I never imagined that a shopping center would spring up out of the dirt.

Oh well, it's nice to have Abuelo's nearby, and I don't think the traffic will ever get too bad since Osceola is a tollway that charges $1.00 per way. Pricey, but worth it for the convenience. In the meantime, I'm afraid that Chevy's will have to be an off-season indulgence.


Kurt N said...

Try Amigos sometime, it is really good Tex-Mex. Also if you are ever in the Winter Park direction, try El Potro for some real authentic Mexican. Or Garibaldi's

Two4Disney said...

Love Chevy's, but it is Tex-Mex, which is still yummy. When we lived in Windermere, we'd go to Tijuana Flats - love their hot sauces - and, of course, we loved San Angel in Epcot. You do have to search for good Mexican food in Florida and one reason we moved back west. :)

Catherine said...

When did Osceola start charging $1??? Has it really been *that* long since I was last down there???

You should come up my way; we have some really good Mexican/Cuban restaurants. Though it would cost you some in tolls . . .

Anonymous said...

Aurelios did make it to Florida - in Naples!

Jennifer said...

We also live in Celebration. For something new, you may want to try Aztecas on OBT near the Home Depot. They replaced Abuelos for us. The decor isn't as fancy, but the prices are lower, the portions larger, and the food is excellent. Abuelos does beat them on drinks, though. I would stick to their fountain drinks.