Hidden Gems: Don Julio’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine, a family-owned dream-come-true

Exterior of Mexican restaurant with photo of sauce covered burrito next to it

Don Julio’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine might just be the best kept secret in all of Tampa. In just over three years the restaurant has transformed walk-ins into regulars with its handmade tortillas, award-winning tacos, and massive burritos blanketed with melty cheese.

Don Julio’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine is situated at 2808 E Bearss Avenue in Tampa. It all started as a foodie dream for the Rodriguez-Nambo family. In times like these, it’s so important to uplift and support the businesses born and bred in Tampa.

A dream come true for the Rodriguez-Nambo family

Founders Julio and Esther Rodriguez came to the Tampa Bay region from Mexico in the early 70’s. Esther (or Doña Esther) always had a passion for cooking Mexican food and she used those talents to get all three of her children to graduate from college as her husband passed away when they were very young.

Doña Esther started offering her authentic dishes in the West Tampa area to relatives and friends in the late ‘80’s and early 90’s and many of them recommended she open a Mexican restaurant as her authentic flavor was unmatched by any existing restaurant in the Tampa Bay area.

Decades later Don Julio’s opened their doors in 2018 making the family’s dream come true of sharing Doña Esther’s authentic Mexican flavor to the entire region. The name was chosen in honor of the late Don Julio who would be proud to see how his family has come together to make a legacy.

Named Best Mexican Restaurant in Tampa Bay

The owners more than live up to the legacy. In year’s past Don Julio’s was named Best Mexican Restaurant and Best Taco in Tampa Bay by 92.5 Maxima.

In 2019, Prospera USA, a nonprofit whose mission is to help start, sustain, and grow Hispanic-owned businesses, named Don Julio’s the most outstanding hispanic-owned business in Tampa Bay.

If you’re looking to sample a bit of everything, then you’re in luck. Don Julio’s offers dining and drink deals on a regular basis.

You can enjoy happy hour deals daily from 3-6pm on all adult beverages. Pro tip: indulge in some traditional Margaritas, Pina Coladas or their own homemade Sangria some sangria — you deserve it.

Every Tuesday is of course taco Tuesday, which means buy 3 tacos and get 1 free. We are always up for free tacos, y’all.

Handmade tortillas and meats made from scratch

“Don Julio’s is a small, family-owned restaurant, and we take pride in the delicious flavor of our meats, freshness of our ingredients and our daily handmade tortillas.  We do not buy anything pre-made, we make everything from scratch and it’s fresh every day” said Julio Rodriguez, owner of Don Julio’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine. “As soon as customers taste our food, they ask us “where have you been all these years” as they love the authentic and traditional flavors of our cuisine. Once they try our food, they become regulars at the restaurant. We really want to bring the authentic flavor of Mexico to Tampa Bay.”

The passion that drives Don Julio’s is evident in every square inch of the restaurant, and in ever sizzling morsel of flavor.

Must-try items on the menu

Here are the items you need to order when you visit Don Julio’s:

Tacos:   Made with their staple handmade tortillas and any choice of their flavorful meats which include Carne Asada, Carnitas, Chorizo, Pastor, Puerco Asado and Chicken

Carnitas Don Julio: Slow cooked and fried chunks of pork 

Fajitas De Carne: Grilled marinated beef strips with grilled onions, green and red bell peppers 

Burrito Don Julio – Flour tortilla wrapped around a filling of choice of meat, beans, melted cheese and Mexican rice.  Topped with melted cheese (optional)

Taquitos Durados Don Julio: Three rolled and fried tortillas with lettuce, onions, cheese and sour cream 

Chimichanga: Fried flour tortilla wrapped around a filling of choice of meat, beans, melted cheese, and Mexican rice. Served with Pico De Gallo and sour cream. 

Carne Asada: Grilled steak cooked to your liking with our proprietary seasoning. 

Chile Relleno: Poblano pepper stuffed with melted Oaxaca cheese or ground beef (+$1). Covered in egg batter and served with a delicious Don Julio’s tomato sauce. 

Enchiladas de Pollo (Chicken) or Carne (Beef): Shredded Chicken or Ground Beef rolled in three corn tortillas topped with green tomatillo or red guajillo chile sauce, lettuce, onion, cheese, sour cream and radish

We also highly recommend indulging in the fish and shrimp tacos respectively.

Fried ice cream is on the menu

The desserts at Don Julio’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine are next-level. One sensational option includes Mexican fried ice-cream topped with whipped cream, cherry, and chocolate chips.

Looking for something even sweeter? Treat yourself to the choco banana. The dessert is a Mexican fried pastry with banana, vanilla ice-cream, and small chocolate kisses.

There’s no delight more delectable than the classic sopapillas.
Enjoy four sweet puffy Mexican pastries dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar. 

Keep up with daily specials, and see a full menu on Don Julio’s website. Follow Don Julio’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine on Facebook and Instagram if you’d like to whet your appetite for their award-winning dishes ahead of your visit.

This article is sponsored by Don Julio’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine

Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of thatssotampa.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@thatssotampa.com.