In the October issue, I mentioned several restaurant openings, and the list is growing. Yes, from spicy fusion cuisine to a taste of haute French fare, Ocala’s culinary scene is only getting better.
El Coco Loco opened in the old Fazoli’s Italian fast food location, just across the parking lot from Boston Market. Jay Roman, who also owns El Taxco on the east side of Ocala, didn’t want to compete with himself too much, so he added more to El Coco Loco’s menu. Its cover reads, ‘A Fusion of Latin, Spanish and Caribbean Cuisine.’ Inside, the offerings are many, from the 14 appetizers and several choices of soups and salads to the wide variety of Mexican and Spanish entrées.
Seven fruity smoothies are available, and for those that want something a little more intoxicating, imported and domestic beer is available and several wines, including Sangria, by the glass or the carafe. El Coco Loco is open daily. Call (352) 438-0015 for take-out or catering.
French restaurant La Cuisine recently opened in downtown Ocala at the intersection of SW 1st Avenue and Fort King Street and right beside Pi on Broadway and the Ocala Wine Experience. The interior is simple yet elegant with lots of deep red accented with black. From the moment you step in, you know you’re not in any ordinary eatery.
Owners Patrice Perron and Stéphane Gattacieca learned through friends who had visited here that Ocala was in need of French cuisine. Both Perron, from Lyon, France, and Gattacieca, from the Alps in Annecy, have worked for world-renowned chefs at some of the finest French restaurants. Visit La Cuisine’s website—lacuisineocala.com—to view a menu, hours, the reservation line, and photos.
Tijuana Flats opened in the Berkshire Oaks Shopping Center on SW College Road in Ocala. Unlike other fast food Mexican restaurants, here you order at the counter and your food and beverage are brought to your table. Their food is made fresh to order because, well, most don’t like it stale to order.
There are way too many hot sauces to mention here, but they’re all categorized as either “15 Hottest,” “Sissy,” “Middle Weight,” “Tear Jerker,” or “Death Wish” sauces. Take home one, a few, or a pack.
Visit this restaurant’s very creative website at tijuanaflats.com to view the extensive menu or join the VIP club. Beer and wine are available. Call (352) 291-1316.
In Grandma Rie’s Bodacious Biscotti, you won’t find added fats, artificial flavors, or preservatives. And there really is a Grandma Rie who proudly boasts of what’s not in her biscotti cookies. Starting out with sales of 180 in the business’ first month, sales now top 5,000 every week! Each biscotti is hand shaped and not extruded through machines. Instead of fruitcake this holiday season, why not order homestyle biscotti by visiting grandmariesbodaciousbiscotti.com or calling (352) 489-1620.
One restaurant that’s not new but is for sale is Duke’s Original Cheesesteaks. Business is good—the family is just ready to relocate. Named after a Philly cop in the family, Duke’s serves authentic Philly cheesesteaks served on what made the sandwich famous—amoroso rolls. The meat, sliced rib-eye, is brought in from Philadelphia as is the Genuine Hank’s Gourmet Birch Root Beer. The menu is simple and included a Pizza Philly, wraps, salads, and an awesome cheesecake from a grandma many generations ago. Call Dawn Crown at (352) 895-9648 if you’re interested in running a successful small restaurant.
Nibbles: Oakcrest Elementary School is looking for dining coupons for kids to hand out as gifts for the holidays. Restaurateurs, if you’d like to participate, please call Diana Woods at (352) 671-6354 by December 10.