Tijuana Flats Burrito Co., based in Maitland, boasts a lively and loyal following. After enjoying a delicious lunch there on a blustery, rainy Saturday recently, it’s easy to see why.


THE FOOD


The menu at Tijuana Flats is deceptively simple. It’s divided into Main Meals, Starters, Flats Faves, Kids Corner, On the Side and Finish Strong.


Within those sections, however, the possibilities are infinite because pretty much everything at Tijuana Flats can be customized, starting with your choice of protein and ending with your choice from a gazillion hot sauces.


We considered a starter - the Tijuana Trio - but instead came up with the idea of ordering a Mexican pizza as an appetizer. I will take credit for this stroke of brilliance because it was wonderful.


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I would happily order this item for my Main Meal on a return visit as that's the part of the menu where it usually is found. We got ours with beef but other choices are chicken (original or blackened), steak, refried or black beans, and cheese.


Other Main Meals items are a taco salad, enchiladas, chimichanga, quesadilla, flautas, tostadas, nachos and Bangin’ Chicken.


For his official entree, my guest chose one of the Flats Faves: a wet megajuana beef burrito. What the heck is wet and megajuana, you may rightfully ask?


Megajuana means double meat and double cheese. Wet means covered in your choice of sauces, which include queso, red and verde. Additional charges apply to both options.


You may also go the other direction and have your food prepared Powerlite for free. Low-fat cheese and fat-free sour cream are substituted.


I went with another Flats Faves, the Dos Tacos also served megajuana. I chose original chicken as my protein.


Both entrees came with a side of tortilla chips, and we both asked for Tijuana Style, which brings on all the fixings, such as cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, onions and jalapenos. I requested no jalapenos.


We made both of our choices meals,which adds a drink and small servings of rice and beans (refried or black), also for an additional charge. I got black beans while my guest chose refried.


The third Flats Faves is the bowl, which the couple in front of us ordered.


All of our food arrived in a timely manner and prepared exactly as we had ordered it. We dove in with forks and fingers blazing.


Tijuana Flats is known for its extensive Hot Bar, featuring about 20 sauces dispensed in self-serve pumps. I think I managed to find the one sweet-ish sauce among the choices that day and enjoyed dipping my chips in it.


However, my guest and I agreed our food tasted so great on its own, we didn’t feel the need to explore the Hot Bar beyond idle curiosity’s sake.


And that’s one of the reasons the place was bustling with families and couples and singles. Tijuana Flats makes step-above, quick-service Mexican fare.


We loved our entire meal. My guest commented that he was surprised I was able to eat all of mine. I admit the last few bites were a bit of a push, but there was no way I was leaving any of it behind.


We didn’t even consider dessert, but if we had, I would have tried the Cookie Dough Flautas. Other options are churros and a “Brookie,” part brownie, part cookie, the menu says.


Youngsters 12 and under have their own menu to choose from at Tijuana Flats. Meals with a burrito, taco, chicken nuggets, quesadilla or nachos are available.


THE ATMOSPHERE


One online description of Tijuana Flats called it “kitschy.” I would agree, but it’s kitschy in a good way with colorful, fun décor and something interesting see or look at almost no matter where you sit.


Seating is at regular and high-top tables. There’s also an outdoors seating area that would pleasant on one of the newly cool fall days. Because the interior is all hard surfaces, the noise level can get a little high, but all we heard were happy sounds during our visit. Music also plays quietly in the background.


THE SERVICE


We were greeted at the door and asked if we were new to Tijuana Flats. We weren’t, but we weren’t regulars either.


The server handed each of us a menu and explained we welcome to have seat while we decided what we wanted and then go place our order at the counter.


It took us a few minutes to decide because of all of the “extras” and choices to be made for each item we wanted. The server who took our order was patient and helpful, which is a must with a menu crafted such as this.


The server who delivered our meal made sure we had what we needed and also pointed out the Hot Bar. Later, another server checked on us and refilled our drinks.


All of the servers we encountered were friendly and helpful making our visit all the more pleasant on top of the delicious food.


A FINAL TASTE


We had a filling, fun and fresh lunch at Tijuana Flats and understand better why it has so many devoted fans.