Wine Dine and Play: Besito Mexican Restaurant

Besito Mexican Restaurant

Rustic Old Mexico Meets New Tampa
Tampa, Florida USA
Cuisine Style: Mexican and Tex-Mex
Average Price: $$$
Overall Rating: 2/5
Dined in April and May 2017
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

Besito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Executive Chef:
Carlos Arellano and Scott Wojcik

Besito Restaurant Owner:
John J. Tunney III

Tampa and Pennsylvania locations owned by: 
ConSul Hospitality Group LLC

Besito owner and Restaurateur John Tunney traveled in Mexico for many years, working to understand its many styles of cuisine and culture of the people as he moved from one area to the next. In 2006, when he opened his first restaurant, he was embarking on something special, a unique dining experience, as well as a cultural one. There are now eight Besito locations with three in New York, two in Massachusetts, and one in Connecticut. OpenTable recently added the restaurant chain to the diners choice hottest 100 restaurants in America list for 2017. The Pennsylvania and Tampa locations are franchised, and this review is based on the Tampa location. It was indeed a different experience then most Mexican restaurants you may visit, especially a chain. Here is why…

When you think Mexican food, are you really thinking true Mexican cuisine, or what the perception of Mexican cuisine is? Most likely without even knowing it, you are thinking about the perception. What we consider Mexican in America is either a Tex-Mex or a combination of items like fajitas, quesadillas, and tacos, which to this day in Mexico is considered poor mans food. But what is it really?  Mexican cuisine is primarily a fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican cooking with European, especially Spanish elements added after their conquest of the Aztec Empire in the 16th century. Before the conquest, the Aztec and Mayan’s like today had different regions which prepared many separate things depending on the climate and ethnic blending.
The original diet consisted of eating dishes made with corn, tropical fruit, wild game, fish, and beans. They would drink dark chocolate sweetened with honey and ancho chili peppers. The upper class also had access to avocados, squash, yucca root, and tomatillos. After the Spanish conquest, Mexican cuisine adopted olives, spices from the east like cumin, citrus and many Arab influences from the Islamic Moors of Spain. In the 1800s the French occupation of Mexico added several new influences to the foods, but even today if you visit Mexico you will not see the same types of cuisine that you see when you visit your local Mexican restaurant, that is unless you visit Besito and a few others like them, that focus on traditional, regional, and cultural Mexican cuisine.

This review covers two visits from April and May 2017. My wife had been here a few months earlier and had recommended it to me. The patio seating is very ornate and comfortable, with a solid wood covering and small lanterns hanging to keep the area well lit after dark, and a fountain in the center. On the inside, you step into a beautifully designed dining room with a thatched style wood and bamboo ceiling, walls with built-in shelves holding tea lights, iron-clad chandeliers hanging every ten feet, and typical furniture arrangements of tables and booths. The bar is also well laid out focusing on crafted cocktails along with a selection of 75+ Mexican tequilas, as well as the typical fare alcohol varieties you see in most bars. This was defiantly not your typical Mexican restaurant.

    • Table Side
    • Aperitivos
    • Acompanantes Sides
    • Iron Skillet Tacos & Platos Fuertos
    • Desserts
Empanadas, tortilla soup, flautas, and queso fundido round up the starters from the menu, which you may see a few of in other places, but most likely not. In the Besito northeast locations, they have crab cakes with habanero cream sauce on their starters. One that all have in common is the table-side guacamole service, which I highly recommend when you visit. They use Haas Avocado from Mexico, and with a molcajete which is a pre-Hispanic stone tool and their version of a mortar and pestle, which is used for the grinding. The avocado is lightly mixed with onion, tomatoes, and jalapeños and served with warm tortilla chips to make a perfect start to your meal.

Table-side guacamole presentation
From enchiladas to iron skillet taco’s that plus build your own favorites, Besito offers a step above the rest. What other Mexican restaurants can you go to and get braised boneless short ribs with tomatillo-chile piquin salsa, or a Filete de Res al Chipotle (filet mignon) marinated in Negra Modelo, chipotle Quemado salsa, queso chihuahua, nopales, plantains, and queso fresco? 

Mexican cuisine is an important aspect of the culture as I mentioned earlier, and poor man's food that Americans think is normal Mexican cuisine you have on Taco Tuesday’s isn't what a true cultured Mexican would have in their diet. The perfect example of this is the mole, the “curry of Mexico” used during special traditions and family gathering events in regions such as Oaxaca, Veracruz, and the Yucatán Peninsula. Outside of Mexico, it is referred to as mole poblano or mole negro. In contemporary Mexico, the term is used to represent a number of different sauces, including black, red/Colorado, yellow, green, almendrado (almonds), huaxmole and pipián. Generally, a mole sauce contains a fruit, chili pepper, nut and spices like black pepper, cinnamon and cumin. The Mole poblano contains about 20 ingredients, including chili peppers and chocolate, which works to counteract the heat of the chili peppers. But don’t expect this sauce to be sweet, as dark chocolate is used, this is not the chocolate you ate from the Hershey bar which has sugar and cream added to it. This sauce is bitter, and I am just as guilty as most Americans for having a sweet taste profile instead of a bitter one, which my wife is trying to introduce me to. The enchilada menu had a mole poblano with shredded chicken, baked in queso fresco, cilantro, and onion.

Mole enchilada
Another focus item that I would recommend is the elotes de la calle (roasted Mexican street corn), with queso fresco, and chile molido. Besito also works with “Feed the Hungry San Miguel” to give back to the beautiful culture of that region. Besito built school kitchens in San Miguel and is an official “Kitchen Angel" for the Clavellinas school. This sponsorship covers all fresh food for 1,500 meals every week throughout the school year as well as the cooks’ salaries, benefits, training, and awareness workshops.

One thing that is in common with a typical Mexican restaurant or Besito and truly cultured restaurants is that by the time you're finished with entrees, you don’t have room for dessert. Though as a nice touch, before you leave, Besito offers complimentary after-dinner churros for every table.

Please see these guidelines for Tipping in Restaurants and on following proper etiquette, customs, cultures, and avoiding assumptions when you dine out.

Other Noteworthy Mexican Cuisine Articles and Restaurants:
Benji’s Cantina Innovative approach to Tex-Mex cuisine in Austin, Texas
Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant casual local chain for traditional meals in Pinellas Park, Florida
Güero's Taco Bar Landmark Mexican Restaurant on Congress Ave. in Austin, Texas
Hablo Taco Mexican-blend joint known for tacos and margaritas in Tampa, Florida
Nueva Cantina Vibrant, Authentic, and contemporary Mexican Cuisine in St Petersburg, Florida
Wipeout Bar and Grill Surf shack theme with California and Mexican cuisine in San Francisco, California

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

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Tampa, Florida, USA
Chain eatery for creative pies
Tampa, Florida, USA
Asian restaurant with sushi at the Hard Rock Casino
Tampa, Florida, USA

A Few Florida Favorites:

Buzzy seafood spot & 360-degree views
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Exploring the restaurant scene on this 7-mile long Gulf barrier island
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President Donald Trump’s Kitchen
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Waterside Bar, w/laid-back tropical atmosphere
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Relaxed Tuscan-inspired Italian chain eatery
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Rustic Italian bistro with modern takes on classic dishes
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See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country

Final notes, review basics, observations and more pictures:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, and wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience, and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give Besito a 2 out of 5 stars, meaning that they were far above the average dining experience of most restaurants.
Scores are detailed in the factor chart below:

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Food quality
Plate presentation
Customer service
Alcohol and other beverages
Total regular points awarded
Total percentage — less the Bonus


“Wow” factor BONUS
Total bonus percentage


Total percentage and bonus for final star rating


Stars Awarded (see chart below)
0 - 5

**A full break down and explanation of the observations and point disbursement is available in the linked article above. To receive a detailed copy of your score, feel free to contact me at any time and I will provide it to you.**


Overall Star Rating:
2 of 5 Stars: 
73% Rating with a 2 point “wow” bonus
An Extraordinary Dining Experience
Wine List:
Wine rating:
7 of 10
Old World selections: 
France, Spain, Italy, Germany,

New World selections: 
Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, California, Oregon  Washington State
Corkage fee’s:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge 
$25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual dining
Cuisine Style:
Mexican, Tex-Mex
Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Farm to Fork, Gluten Free, Organic, Pescatarian, Vegetarian Options
Not Required, But Recommended
Accepted, but not guaranteed
Dress code:
Casual attire
It’s Florida, everybody wears flip-flops!
Child policy:

The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
Place for foodies, Contemporary, Modern, Hotspot, Great bar, Great outdoor dining, Tourist grabber, and a Neighborhood Gem.
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Public Lot
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Nonsmoking restaurant, and nonsmoking patio
Patio or terrace:

Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricy)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)

**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)

 Alcohol prices:

$52.00 USD

Besito Mexican Restaurant:

205 Westshore Plz
Tampa, Florida

Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 813 287 4800
Online reservations
Email Contact:
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)

11:00 am - 10:30 pm
Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 
4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Social Media 
Tampa Location FB               

The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…

Modern Italian and Southern
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Classy American fare with steak and seafood
Griffin, Georgia, USA
 High-end elegant steakhouse with sustainable seafood 
Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Other Pictures:

Dining Room
Black Beans and Rice
Elotes de la calle

Bathroom exit hand sanitizer  

The Clavellinas school

Who is John Galt?


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