South Florida’s Best Mexican-American Restaurant • Coral Springs Talk
By Dan I cook
La Bamba is the best Mexican-American restaurant in South Florida
Bold statement, right?
It’s true, folks, and I’m sure my friends who own Cielto Lindos and El Mariachi are probably mad at me for writing this, but I have to tell the truth.
Many moons ago, my older brother ruled Cielto Lindos at Lighthouse Point, which is now long gone. In the kitchen worked the future owners of La Bamba. These brothers eventually left Hector, the owner of Cielto Lindos, and opened La Bamba in Oakland Park, Florida. They surpassed all other Mexican-American restaurants in quality, service, and food.
Here’s a nostalgic 1980s trip to all the great Mexican American joints in Broward County, from The OG Carlos and Pepe’s, Chi Chi’s, Acapulco Lindo, and the original Cielto Lindos in Pompano Beach. I have visited them all and over time the restaurants close and the competition borrows recipes and ideas.
Next thing you know, the apprentice rises to the top and surpasses the master – it looks like the restaurant version of Star Wars.
La Bamba rose to the top a few decades ago and continues to reign supreme.
I’m not a purist when it comes to Mexican food. I like the American style, which has heavy sauces and cheese with flour tortillas, no corn. That said, La Bamba has always been fantastic.
Free fries and salsa: This needs to be mentioned because you rarely get anything “free”. I’m sure there’s a catch to that, like you have to buy a drink or food. I have no idea and I never asked. I can only say that the fries at La Bamba are always hot and the hot “Picante” salsa is damn tasty. The salsa has the right amount of heat that won’t kill your taste buds. I always take home a big order of this salsa because it tastes so good.
Chicken soup is fire. You say it’s just chicken soup, but the simple things in a restaurant give you insight into how your whole meal will be.
Tender pieces of chicken, al dente carrots and a creamy broth make this a comforting dish. The soup is piping hot and a quick squeeze of a wedge of lime brings it all together. It’s also my favorite soup when I’m feeling down.
Crab nachos and burrito. Hard to believe they still serve real snow crab. So many places went the cheaper route and used the faux crab with mixed shrimp, but not La Bamba.
The plating of the nachos is simple and a small dollop of tangy salsa wins the taste. Crab tossed with melted cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and a slice of jalapeño makes for a delicious one-bite snack.
The crab burrito, or “Burro de Mazatlan”, is my favorite. I am a crab fueled by my many trips to Catfish Dewey’s in Oakland Park for all-you-can-eat snow crab legs.
As with nachos, you can’t beat the taste of sweet crab rolled up in a burrito covered in gravy and cheese. Mixing seafood and cheese is supposed to be a big no-no with some food snobs, but dishes like this work well together. Plus, it’s the only Mexican-American joint that uses snow crab. Tequila Sunrise in Oakland Park does crab nachos and enchiladas, but they use blue crab. I also love this place, with its huge margaritas and tasty food, but the blue crab tastes different. Anyone who knows crab understands what I’m talking about. La Bamba’s is far superior to any other place I have tasted.
I will say the portions have gotten smaller and the prices higher. I consider these items a guilty pleasure and worth the high prices. I’m curious to see what other people think.
All fajitas are a solid option. My favorite is the vegetable loaded chicken and shrimp. Always arriving steaming and sizzling, this entrée is a real eye-catcher.
I love the aroma, brings me closer to that fajita facial you crave. You all know what I’m talking about. The chunks of prawns and chunks of chicken covered in vegetables are a sight to behold. I like the way the chicken is cut. It’s not perfectly sliced or diced. It’s big and small pieces. I always get two orders for flour tortillas because one isn’t enough. Fajitas can be a very messy dish because the sauce runs down your hands. It adds to the charm and dining experience while eating. The seasonings are always perfect and I have enjoyed every platter of fajitas served to me here.
Mexican pizza is a winner. Forget Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza and dive into La Bamba’s version. Listed under Entrances, it’s big enough for your main entrance. A crispy flour tortilla, topped with refried beans, sauce, ground beef, onion, green/red peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes, topped with Monterey jack/cheddar cheese. Just writing it makes my mouth water. It’s served on a pizza platter, and this bad boy is delicious. Eating this once served is vital; otherwise, it will become soggy. Try this and you’ll thank me later.
A must-try dessert is fried ice cream. A large scoop of vanilla ice cream covered in cinnamon sauce, then dipped in cornflakes and fried. Chi Chi’s restaurant made it famous in the 80’s and was very popular. I would love to meet the person who invented this dish: frying ice cream. Who would have thought?
We don’t talk enough about this unique dessert. It’s definitely on my Mount Rushmore Top 4 dessert. The crunch of cornflakes mixed with ice cream with a hint of cinnamon just works. It’s a story of texture/taste that as I get older, I appreciate more and more. If you’ve never had this before, this is a must.
Service and Atmosphere
They were renovated a few years ago and the bar is huge now. All the dining rooms are clean, as well as the bathroom.
I really appreciate the newly designed bar. The old configuration was horrible because it had the shape of a strange triangle. Not anymore, friends. They have a colossal TV mounted behind the bar with plenty of seating. I swear if you’re sitting in front of the TV and not looking at the parking lot, you’d think you’re on a cruise ship or somewhere in Mexico. I love the atmosphere.
Be sure to order a Five Finger Death Punch Margarita from Ronald. He calls it the Perfect Sunrise or something, but I changed the name to something more appealing.
I’ve never had a problem with the service. They have always been quick, polite and efficient. My favorite bartenders are Ronald and David. I’ve known these guys for years. They have exceptional personalities and can make mean margaritas.
I’ve summed up this joint as the best in South Florida. I haven’t even covered the lunch and drink specials. This is important because money is tight for some people and they have good deals.
Discounted lunches range from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday until Friday. Mondays are Margarita Night with discounted Margaritas with the purchase of a main dish. This place can get crowded during peak hours, especially on Margarita night, so be prepared to wait.
This is an easy 4 beer rating. With multiple locations from Palm Beach to Broward, it’s easy to choose one near you. Don’t forget to tell manager Alex, bartenders Ronald and David that Dan I Cook and MargateTalk.com sent you and stay hungry!
Four beers = Exceptional
Three beers = Good
Two beers = OK
A beer = Need work
Zero beers = Sucks (No beer is never a good thing).
5452 Sample Road West
Margate, Fla. 33073
La Bamba also has locations at 10169 W Sunrise Blvd in Plantation, 4285 W Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach, and 4245 N Federal Hwy in Fort Lauderdale.www.labamba123.com
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Hailing from Broward, half Samoan half Irish or Afa Tasi, Food Warrior, Beer Ninja, United States Marine, owner/talent of danicookeatdrink.com. Former Oakland Park Police Department/BSO, DLE Sergeant.