There’s a new Mexican restaurant in Madeira Beach, and just in time for National Guacamole Day (Fri., Sept. 16).
Mad Beach Cantina opened mid-June in the old Mad Beach Fish House location, hovering over Madeira Bay Marina. Confused residents still stroll in on occasion looking for seafood. What they find is a full menu of Mexican food and drinks.
“The drinks have been the most successful thus far,” Dylan Harrington, of Mad Beach Cantina’s management team, told The Gabber. This makes sense considering that all four members of Mad Beach Cantina’s management team were once bartenders. And then there’s the Build Your Own Margarita menu.
There are five steps to building your own margarita. Step one is choosing the tequila. Mad Beach Cantina has six silver, one blanco, two añejos, two cristalinos, and five reposados. One of the more unique options is 1800 Coconut, a coconut-infused silver tequila.
Step two is selecting a regular or large-sized margarita. In step three you select one of five styles: cantina traditional, cantina traditional with orange juice, skinny, paloma, or spicy. For Step 4 you decide between a salt, sugar, cinnamon, or Tajín rim.
Then there’s an optional step five, where for an upcharge, you can add strawberry, mango, blackberry, or passion fruit flavor. Finally, there’s the option to add a Grand Marnier float for another upcharge.
I ordered a traditional cantina-style margarita with house silver tequila and a Grand Marnier float. This, for me, is as good as margaritas get. It’s a $9.50 drink, but even the regular size appears large. This is the cheapest option, and without the Grand Marnier float, it costs $7.50. The most expensive option – a large margarita made with Casamigos Añejo – will set you back $29.
I leisurely sipped my margarita, munched on chips and guac, and watched a pelican dive for its dinner in the bay below.
Now for the food. The guacamole is delicious – right on par with all the other great guacamoles I’ve already eaten in south Pinellas – and it pairs wonderfully with the salty chips it’s served with.
For the entrees, Harrington tells me they’re leaning heavy into street tacos because of the slow-cooked meats. I ordered the birria tacos, which I’m told often sell out on weekends. I like the somewhat light quality of the birria tacos. There’s not too much cheese or greasiness, allowing the cinnamon flavor in the consommé to shine alongside the beef.
For dessert I had the tres leches cake, a milk-soaked butter cake you’ll find only at select Mexican restaurants. And yes, it tastes as good as it looks in this picture.
What I liked most about my meal was that, unlike at a lot of other Mexican places, it didn’t sit heavy on my stomach. This is important if you plan on walking the beach after dinner.
There’s a lot of great waterfront seafood restaurants in the Tampa Bay area, but not many waterfront Mexican restaurants. Mad Beach Cantina is a great addition to the Tampa Bay area dining scene. Now excuse me while I go walk off some of these extra calories.