Wine Dine and Play: Carmelita's Mexican Restaurant

Carmelita's Mexican Restaurant

A Local Pinellas Mexican Chain
Pinellas Park, Florida USA
Cuisine Style: Mexican, Tex-Mex
Dined in April 2017
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)

What is the first thing that we think of when someone says: “lets go eat some Mexican for lunch today!” Tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, and the salsa with chips. No matter where, most Mexican restaurants offer these favorites, while few others offer more traditional country cuisine. Pinellas Park is a small suburb city to the northwest of Saint Petersburg, Florida.  With over 50,000 population, this one hundred year old city has grown into the fourth largest of in the county and is known for its popular equestrian facilities and events. My wife and I stopped into Carmelita's Restaurant for lunch, in the mood for some Gringo Mexican as mentioned above…

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Restaurant Owners:
Juan and Maria J. Guzman

Main review:
Gringo’s Mexican is not mentioned as an insult, but just the perception of what Americans think Mexican cuisine really is. In Mexico they have tacos, (maybe everyday - not just on Tuesday), fajitas and other common items that we order when we go out, but what we consider as proper Mexican cuisine, the people in Mexico do not. They consider the items mentioned as poor mans, or worker class foods. Whatever it is known as in the home country, here in the United States it has taken on an entirely knew cuisine style - call it Mexican-American cuisine or Tex-Mex. Though Tex-Mex is closer to the real deal then Mexican-American. America gained its unique cuisine style by becoming a melting pot of many different cultures. Since the founding, America has taken in people from all over the world, they conformed to the American dream, renounced their allegiances to their former homes, learned the language, and held up the American flag with pride as any patriot would. 

With these people came their styles of food and preparation. So if you take 150 years of a cuisine being mixed in the melting pot of others from around the world, then you have what is common today. Mexican cuisine that is common to the Gringo today is the poor mans food of old Mexico. That however, does not stop us from going, and Mexican restaurants are popping up all over just like fast food joints did with the hamburger with french fries (a German and French dish by the way!!)

Carmelita’s is a local chain of Mexican restaurants with locations in Largo, New Port Richey, Saint Petersburg, here in Pinellas Park, and their Grill and Cantina location in Dunedin. The first location opened in the early 1980s and the Guzman family worked for them as cooks. They are now owners of this, the fourth installment location of the Carmelita brand which opened in 2008. 

    • Antojitos (Appetizers)
    • Ensaladas (Salads)
    • Sopas (Soups)
    • Tacos
    • Burritos
    • Combination Platters
    • Enchiladas
    • Specialties
    • Tostadas
    • Side Orders
    • Carmelita's Homemade Sauces
    • Desserts

Carmelita’s is a mix between the Mexican-American melting pot of cuisines, and the traditional, as some items they offer are more than just the commoner or poor mans foods like most other Mexican restaurants. Yes they have the favorites mentioned above, but they also have more unique items you normally don’t see on a menu that American’s are used to seeing. Examples include Botanas which are tortilla chips topped with frijoles, chorizo sausage, tomatoes, and dips like sour cream and guacamole. My wife and I began with the typical classic of salsa and queso with tortilla chips for dipping. Like most Mexican-American, their was little to no spice as it has been discovered that contrary to what might be said, a good portion of Americans and western cultures do not like very heavy or hot spices.

For the entree we split the chimichanga entree. They offer beef, chicken, or vegetarian on the menu. The flour tortilla is filled with cheese, your selection of meat, rolled and then deep fried to a golden brown sprinkled with a garnish of white cheese and sour cream, and served with some rice.

If your tagging along with friends or family and not a big fan of Mexican restaurants they offer hamburgers and pork chops as well. Overall a good experience, and it hit the spot for a later afternoon lunch for my wife and I.

Other Noteworthy Mexican-American, Tex-Mex, and traditional Mexican Favorites:
Benji’s Cantina Innovative approach toTex-Mex cuisine in Austin, Texas
Güero's Taco Bar Landmark Mexican Restaurant on Congress Ave. in Austin, Texas
Besito Mexican Restaurant creative Mexican-blend eats chain; reviewed in Tampa, Florida
Wipeout Bar and Grill Surf shack theme with California and Mexican cuisine in San Francisco, California
Texas Chili Parlor Local eatery for Tex-Mex, chili, & American cuisine in Austin, Texas

Final notes and observations:
What is a restaurant review? Is one better than the other? How does the rating system work? Most reviews you read online are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsibly, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience. My job is to put you at the table with me, and to try and be objective to the best of my ability. Being impeccable with my word, never taking anything that happens personally, being honest in the review, never making assumptions, and to always write to the best of my knowledge. My ratings are notated by the level of stars I award (from 0 to 5). The star rating is based on the calculation and point accumulation of six separate factors with nearly seventy questions broken down by my individual experience. This includes: wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, plus a bonus section I call wow factor. To see more details on how I do my ratings read this article:

Over all from this experience, and using my rating system linked above, I give Carmelita’s a 1 out of 5 stars, meaning that they did not exceed my expectations making them an average dining experience to most Mexican restaurants. This is not a bad rating as my expectations are set to a high standard, and they do outpace the typical chain and other basic restaurants. I would recommend giving them a try.

Review basics:

5 stars
 An Extraordinary Experience
Worthy of a Michelin rating
   94 - 100%
(105% with full bonuses added)
4 Stars
An Outstanding Experience 
(Top of its class)
87 - 93%
3 Stars
Exceeded All My Expectations
80 - 86%
2 Stars
Far Above the Average Experience
72 - 79%
1 Star
An Average Dining Experience
66 - 71%
0.5 Star
The Restaurant is a very Basic Experience
65 - 61%
0 Stars
ALERT: Poor, or Appalling Experience
(Do not waste your money or time)
60% or below

Overall Star Rating:
1 of 5 Stars: 
An Average Dining Experience
Corkage fee’s:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge $25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Cuisine style:
Mexican-American, Tex-Mex, and Vegetarian
Not Required
Dress code:
Casual attire

Child policy:

The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a child’s menu or cater to them; however for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended for children not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. If not then
Hire a Babysitter! 
Good for special occasions, Rustic, Hole-in-the-wall, and a Neighborhood gem.
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Public lot or Street Parking
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

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Native American Cuisine w/Barbacoa Grilling
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Key West
Landmark bar since 1851, where Jimmy Buffet got his start
Casual curries of North & South with Buffet
Authentic & Traditional  Peruvian Cuisine
St. Augustine
Locally Sourced Café for Southern Grub

Food Prices 
(excluding, alcohol, taxes & gratuity)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 

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

My food bill:
Price chart:
United States Dollar (USD)
Australian Dollar (AUS)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)
Currency rates as of June 2017

 Alcohol Prices:


Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant:
6218 66th St North
Pinellas Park, Florida 

Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 727-545-8226
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Email Contact:
Social Media 
Facebook link                

The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list based on who is writing about them, and it changes on a regular basis. My list of best reviewed restaurants here on Wine, Dine, and Play is based on a rating number at 4 or 5 stars. From the 350 + published reviews as of summer 2017, less than 15% hold these prestigious rankings, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. I have dined at restaurants on five continents from cafés, chains, and fine dining spots including a few that are rated on the Michelin one to three scale. Below is a sampling of some from my list, which include mom and pops + holes in the wall. These places can be just as good, or if not better than a top ranked restaurant of the world in my opinion. To visit my full list of best places follow this link:

A few to tease you with…

Everything food, beverage, and more
Elegant Modern Australian with Molecular Gastronomic dining 
Melbourne, Australia
Modern eclectic and Nouvelle Latin cuisine
Woodstock, South Africa
High Rise Fine Global Dining, Highest Restaurant In The World
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Haute French Cuisine
Paris, France
Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Impeccably prepared French fine dining 
Dublin, Ireland
Acclaimed high-concept inspired Farm to Table tavern
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Refined and elegant creole fare since 1880
New Orlean’s, Louisiana, USA
French-American Fine Dining
Yountville, Napa, California, USA
Safari + Upscale African Cuisine
Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
Contemporary Japanese restaurant, sushi, & cocktail mixology
Dubai, UAE
Fine Indian and Pakistani Cuisine 
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Contemporary, African-French Tasting Journey
Franschhoek, South Africa
Eclectic French-Asian Tasting Menu
Sydney, Australia
Top 10 American fine-dining ornate chophouse
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Posh and artful French cuisine + culinary experimentalism
Festival City, Dubai, UAE
Haute Gastronomique French restaurant & bistro
Bordeaux, France

Reviewed by:
Sean Overpeck (CFE)
Executive Chef
Father, Husband, Wine Drinker
Restaurant nut, History and 
Star Trek lover

Picture below was taken at the
US Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan

About Sean:

I am based out of Florida working in food service for over twenty years, and am currently with the American Embassy as the Executive Chef. Formally I have worked with groups contracting in Afghanistan, and Antarctica, also working in restaurants in and around Atlanta, Georgia prior to the wars. I have also owned a catering company and served proudly in the United States Army Food Service Program. The idea for Wine, Dine, and Play started in late 2012 after a trip to Jordan, when I was asked by friends to write down my experiences from a few restaurants, wines I tasted, and unique locations such as Petra. Since that time, I have written over 350 articles, including fifteen from the worlds top 100 lists of San Pellegrino and the Elite Travelers Guide restaurants. I have articles on exotic world locations such as Victoria Falls, and South African Safari’s; food recipes & a Grand Food Dictionary; ethnic country cuisines such as Afghan, and Peruvian; tasting tours of world cities like Charleston, Cape Town, and Dubai; and of course wine from vineyards in California, Oregon, the Carolina’s, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, with much more to see and write.

Who is John Galt?

Other articles of interest on Wine, Dine, and Play:

The Complete A to Z Food and Beverage Grand Dictionary If you're looking for it, then you found it
A Taste of McMurdo - 8 Months on the Ice Ross Island, Antarctica 
Shark Cage Diving Adventure with the Great White Shark Tours company in Gansbaai, South Africa
Afghan Cuisine Recipes, culture, history of food, the future - A culinary tour of Afghanistan during the war
Burj Khalifa Tower Take a tour of the tallest building in the world, Dubai, UAE
Peruvian Cuisine Andes, Amazon, and Lima - A culinary tour with recipes and history
Fugitives Drift Lodge and Zulu Battlefields African Cuisine Buffet, Kwa-Zulu-Natal, South Africa 
Thanksgiving in Antarctica An American tradition with turkey and football at the bottom of the world
Cowgirl Creamery Artisan cheese shop “aka” Cowgirl Cantina in Point Reyes Station, California 
Netflix Movie Codes search for your favorites
Tipping in Restaurants Etiquette, customs, cultures, and assumptions 
(Articles coming soon) 
Petra, Jordan
A Taste of Dubai 
A Taste of South Africa (multiple volumes)
Wine, Dine, And Play’s “best of”
FOB Shank - Cooking with Incoming

“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)


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