Review: Mariachis and Micheladas

The Chicken Mole at Florez Bar & Grill is rich and aromatic with a sauce that packs such depth of flavors. It’s served with caramelized platanos, cilantro-lime rice and black beans. (Photo by Steph Rodriguez)

Lively violins follow along to the thumping rhythms coming from a large acoustic bass and an upbeat Spanish chorus as four men dressed in traditional, embroidered charro suits stroll from table to table, serenading customers dining inside Florez Bar & Grill.

Every Sunday morning, this South Land Park restaurant hosts live mariachi music—a nice touch to the family-friendly vibes of this neighborhood mainstay. Service is quick despite it being completely packed both inside and outside on the large shaded patio. Warm chips and fresh salsas arrive at the table as soon as guests are seated and waiters all dressed in black whiz by refilling waters and taking food orders.

Florez serves up consistently solid Mexican dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Large bowls of piping hot Menudo ($11) fly out of the kitchen and there’s not a table or booth in sight that doesn’t have someone scooping rice and beans into flour tortillas with every bite. Although I enjoy Florez’ Chilaquiles Verdes ($11), with its tender carnitas swimming in a tangy and bright tomatillo salsa on top of crispy tortilla chips and crowned with an over-medium egg, I was in the mood for mole.

The Chicken Mole ($14) is a fragrant and comforting meal consisting of grilled chicken breast covered in a dark, homemade mole sauce. There’s a hint of Mexican chocolate, a scent of cinnamon and a delightful blend of nuttiness and heat that comes from peanuts and dried chiles. A side of caramelized platanos (plantains) brought a subtle sweetness between bites of toothsome cilantro-lime rice and black beans sprinkled with Cotija cheese.

Another thing Florez does well: Micheladas! It’s a simple beverage that combines any light beer such as Corona or Modelo with bloody mary mix. Florez serves its version with a thick salty/spicy Tajín rim. I ordered a large Michelada ($10) and added grilled jumbo shrimp ($3). The towering concoction arrived in a chunky, frosted beer stein filled to the brim with three shrimp hooked onto the glass. Each shrimp was cooked and seasoned beautifully as if each side just kissed the flaptop—tender, yet crunchy and dusted with paprika, black pepper and Tajín.

My dining partner asked our waiter what was the most popular breakfast item on the menu; he suggested either the Chorizo and Eggs plate with flour tortillas ($11.50) or the Super Breakfast Burrito with chorizo ($10) because customers enjoy the spicy aioli it’s served with. Breakfast burrito it was—and it was humungous. A large flour tortilla stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs, thick pieces of country-style potatoes and a generous handful of Jack cheese. The smoky chipotle aoili coated the tender potatoes nicely, which were (thankfully) cooked all the way through even though they resembled small boulders.

As the mariachis sang their last ballads and my Michelada went from full to empty, I was stuffed and satisfied. Florez Bar & Grill knows consistency and it manages to elevate Mexican staples in both presentation and in flavor. Every ingredient is going to be well seasoned and every component of the dish, even if it’s humble rice and beans, tastes like mom made it from scratch.

Florez Bar & Grill
5900 South Land Park Dr.
(916) 429-6864
Good for: Live mariachi, large Micheladas and brunch
Notable dishes: Chicken Mole, Chilaquiles, Super Breakfast Burrito

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