Winter Park: Dinner, with a twist
March 5, 2009
Like the accessory on the rim of a bottle of Corona beer, Lime An American Cantina has added a little flavor to the offerings at the new Winter Park Village.
The Mexican-American restaurant opened on Valentine’s Day and is already catering to decent crowds from Winter Park Resort. The eatery is the brainchild of Curt Sims who owns several similarly themed restaurants throughout the Front Range.
He came up with the concept after owning several night clubs, new general manager Craig Winchester explained. Sims wanted to merge the “Cheers feel,” he said, into a night lounge but with a modern twist.
Sims’ wife Pam Savage developed all the recipes for the business, which incorporate comfort foods with fresh ingredients and southwestern flair. To add to the crisp ambiance, the line cooks put dishes together in an open kitchen setting. Guests may watch as their meals are prepared right in front of them, as wait staff ensures their dining needs are met.
Along with most drinks from the sizable bar menu, each dish is accompanied with a lime wedge. After 4 p.m. the business passes out lime “salutes” as a happy hour complimentary shot. They are served in carved-out, halved limes.
Top sellers during its first month in business near the Winter Park base are the “Scorpions” (stuffed jumbo shrimp layered on jalapeno halves) and combo plate (which includes one of the popular sweet corn tamales). The Scorpions are such a hot ticket item, that people may add two to any plate for an added cost. Ask the cooks and they’ll also recommend the margarita chicken or enchiladas.
“We pride ourselves obviously in our flavors,” Winchester said. “I’d definitely say this is not your typical Mexican restaurant. It’s a cool kind-of concept, you know?”
Prices are at least 10 percent lower than the competitors at the resort, pointed out former manager Brian Vigil, although they’re a bit higher than those found in the Front Range locations. Average cost of a meal at the newest location, his successor added, is about $10.50.
On the other hand, Winchester pointed out, the portion size is great. “We pack those things full,” he said of the tacos and burritos, “and that’s what gives us our value.” Nine out of 10 customers, he said, comment on how much food is served.
Winchester said the cantina staff is glad to be open. As they “get centered” in their new digs, a new sign and several new ideas hope to draw more people in to check it out. The cantina is considering adding breakfast an hour before lifts open next winter and patio space will welcome guests in from the heat this summer.
Despite its quaint size, Lime An American Cantina can accommodate about 65 diners. Service is fairly quick even at the lunch hour. An upstairs banquet area allows for private parties of about 16 people. Gift certificates and to-go orders are available, and all credit cards are accepted.