When it comes to family restaurants, Paco's Mexican Restaurant has them all beat.
Opened by Marjorie Myers in 1981, her sister and brother Melissa and Donnie joined her in 1982. Chico runs the kitchen; he joined the family in 1983. Sisters Monica and Marianne — servers extraordinaire — have been there since 1988 and 1983 respectively. How many businesses — anywhere in the world — can boast that kind of longevity in workers who happily stay where they are?
Melissa gives all the credit to founder Marjorie, who died from cancer in 2009. “It’s her place still. It’s all her,” Melissa said. “Marj inspired loyalty in her staff, customers, friends and family.” And what Marjorie managed to create is being carried on with sincere love and caring today. They even have a drink on the menu called the “Marjorita.”
But for any restaurant to be around to celebrate 30 years, the food has to be good. The fact is, Paco’s serves the freshest Tex-Mex food in Central Florida, and being a family restaurant in the truest sense of the word, guests are treated like family whether it’s your first visit or your 30th. The family-friendly, relaxed atmosphere has to do with the servers, quality ingredients and very affordable prices.
In true Tex-Mex tradition, I started with the nachos and tried all of the salsas and dips. The medium salsa is just hot enough for most, but I can “stand the heat,” so I went for the hot salsa: Woof. Loved it. (It’s hot enough to make your eyes water.) And while the homemade guacamole is good, the cheese dip is the clear winner in my book. Note to party planners: They sell salsa by the jar for your home parties.
There’s never any hurry in this restaurant, so you have plenty of time to eat a “Combo Grande,” which consists of a lot of food in a lot of variations. You may choose one, two or three tacos, burritos and/or enchiladas and mix them up in any way you wish, everything served with beans and rice. I had the enchilada, stuffed to bursting with fresh pulled chicken, and the beef taco, so delicious that it reminds you of why you like Mexican food in the first place. At Melissa’s suggestion, I put some of my cheese dip on my beef taco. It is a wonderful suggestion for which I thank Melissa (and pass on to you.)
Urged to try their Deluxe Burrito (under Burritos Grande on the menu), I happily indulged in the mix of beef and beans in a burrito smothered in ranchero sauce, melted cheese and sour cream and found myself in Tex-Mex heaven. In other words, if it’s on the menu, they will fix it in any combination you can think of. Everyone associated with Paco’s truly wants to keep the customers happy.
And speaking of keeping us happy, Melissa has invited us to help celebrate their 30th anniversary. If you tell your server “Josh sent you,” you may order (limit 2) beers at 30 cents each with an entrée from Wednesday, Nov. 30, to Friday, Dec. 30. Were beers 30 cents 30 years ago? I truly don’t know, but hey, it works for me. Paco’s is at 1801 W. Fairbanks Ave. in Winter Park, but you knew that. They’ve been there for 30 years!
And don’t forget to tell them “Josh sent you.” Call 407-629-0149 or visit pacosmexican.com