LB Review: Las Brisas Mexican, North Fort Myers
The words “awesome restaurant” and “Pondella Road” have, to my knowledge, never been uttered in the same sentence. “Great diner” — sure. “Decent gas stations” — definitely.
But in June, that changed. That’s when Las Brisas Mexican Restaurant opened, turning an old tax accountant’s office into a charmingly cozy, full-service eatery serving cinnamon-spiked sangria, grill-charred asada and everything in between. On my first visit, I expected your run-of-the-mill taqueria: maybe a few tables, maybe a few aisles of dried chilies, maybe some good tacos. I left pleasantly shocked, with a bag full of great tacos, to boot.
It takes a tiny bit of work and a whole lot of trust to get to Las Brisas. You have to go to North Fort Myers first, to the stretch of Pondella that connects Business 41 to N. Cleveland Avenue. It’s a block better known for laundromats and auto shops. It’s where you get copies of birth certificates from the health department, and, now, enchiladas covered in some of the darkest, most nuanced mole in town.
That little bit of work, that trust, it pays off the moment you walk through Las Brisas’ door.
The restaurant makes the most of its boxy little dining area. The spotless floors are finished to look like beach wood. Booths line a wall of windows plastered in scenes of turquoise waters and palm-thatched huts. Cheesy? Incredibly. But at least they block the view of the Sheriff’s substation across the street.
There are only a couple-dozen seats in total, but the space feels larger than it should, lighter, airier. Service is equally breezy. A young woman showed me to a table during a recent dinner, a male server followed close behind, leaving napkins and taking orders for drinks.
That aforementioned sangria was far better than it needed to be, boozy with wine, riddled with fresh fruit, tangier and richer than the straight-from-the-bottle junk people so often pass off as sangria.
Las Brisas even gives dishes so simple as quesadillas and chimichangas attention and care. Same for its fluffy sides of orange-tinted rice, its refried beans the texture of velvet.
Las Brisas’ $1.99 tacos are served on rounds of corn tortillas no bigger than a coaster. They come piled in chopped bits of asada, or spicy-sweet nibbles of al pastor. They’re topped in cilantro and onions, then paired with Las Brisas’ house-made salsas for a fiery kick.
They’re the kinds of tacos you hope for from a hole-in-the-wall taqueria — the one with the aisles of masa flour, and the rickety, Formica-topped tables.
And yet here they are, at the unexpectedly delightful Las Brisas, this awesome restaurant on Pondella Road.