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Eating with Emma

3 spots for tasty Mexican brunch, dinner and dessert in Sarasota

Brunch time at Kolucan Mexican Bar & Grill.
Brunch time at Kolucan Mexican Bar & Grill.
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Life is too short to not do the things (or eat and drink the things) that bring you joy. 

So why not munch on Mexican for all three meals? Our community is becoming a mecca for food from south of the border. Tapering the list from what feels like thousands of trendy spots required serious research.

I don't think it's out of the question to extend Cinco de Mayo to the entire month, so don't worry if you make your culinary trip on May 13. Here are three memorable Mexican joints to enjoy momentous meals.

Kolucan Mexican Bar & Grill

6644 Gateway Ave., Sarasota; 941-921-3133;

Kolucan's chiles rellenos ($24) with potatoes, mushrooms, onions and more.
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Mex-cellant Brunch: I'm a sucker for chiles rellenos ($24), and this new-to-Gulf-Gate spot really delivers on presentation and flavor. Try two poblano peppers stuffed with potatoes, mushrooms, onions, confit tomatoes and roasted carrots in vegetable mole topped with cashew sour cream, served with Mexican rice and black beans. Between the bold aromatics on the plate and the ambiance of the restaurant, I couldn't help ponder, "Am I still in Sarasota?"

Kolucan's signature cucumber jalapeño margarita.
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On Your Marg, Get Set, Brunch: Let's play "Two truths and a lie" — you guess the lie. First, I was a vegetarian for six years until my college boyfriend forgot to tell his parents, who were grilling T-bone steaks for our first meeting. Second, when someone asks me, "What is one drink you can never drink again?" I without hesitation say jalapeño margaritas because my husband and I went a little hard in Epcot after we got engaged. Third, I once cut up hundreds of hot dogs for girls to wrestle in for an episode of Jerry Springer and smelled like hot dogs for two weeks after that. 

The lie: While my husband and I might have spent a pretty penny at Epcot, I will never turn down a jalapeño margarita — especially at Kolucan.

Casa Masa

2773 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota; 941-922-8226;

Let's Taco Bout It: Two years ago my husband and I embarked on the most exciting part of relationship. Nope, it wasn't marriage; it was the quest for the best tacos in town. We happened upon owner Rob Disilvio's culinary brain child, Casa Masa, and our taste buds have been tantalized at least twice a month ever since. Casa Masa is currently nestled off Bee Ridge, but it's transferring its taco talents down to The Landings later this year. The mouthwatering flavors from Disilvio's menu are far superior to what's on offer at most taco joints in our area. When you're looking for a true taste of Mexico, look no further than Casa Masa — especially since Disilvio gets ingredients flown in from Oaxaca. (How many places can really say that?) Try the pork al pastor ($4.50) with marinated pork and pineapple, the Birria ($6) with braised lamb, queso and consome included, or the camarones ($6.50) with grilled shrimp, roasted corn and black garlic crema. 

Authentic Mexican pizzas, called tlayuditas ($14), made with fresh imported Oaxacan quesillo from Casa Masa.
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Have a Pizza My Heart: Did you know that there are authentic Mexican pizzas made right here in Sarasota? Head to Casa Masa and try their tlayuditas ($14) featured in the "not tacos" section of the menu.. These bad boys are made with fresh imported Oaxacan quesillo, napa cabbage, black bean paste, black garlic crema, salsa macha (contains peanuts), red onion and micro cilantro. Choose from a plethora of succulent proteins or make it a breakfast version ($19.50) with chorizo, potato and sunny-side up quail eggs. 

Be sure to wash this all down with an ice cold beer on tap or some sangria, of course.

Agave Bandido

1550 Lakefront Drive, Sarasota; 941-260-8866;

Patron margarita tower ($48) at Agave Bandido in Waterside.
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Churr All I Need: For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting my mom, she is a real life superhero and could kick Batman and Spiderman's butts blindfolded. A year before she lost her mom to Alzheimer's, she had to undergo massive brain surgery. Per the Kennedy —I mean Burke — curse, her surgery did not go according to plan. She was in the ICU for quite some time. With her unearthly determination and supernatural strength, when she regained consciousness, she immediately turned to my dad and said, "Can the girls please go get me churros with caramel dipping sauce?" In seconds my sister and I were out the door and heading to her favorite New York City Mexican restaurant to get her the dessert that always, without fail, cures all. That's why this year, after everything that we have been through, I knew I had one responsibility — to find the best churros in town for mom. I found them at Agave Bandido. Churros ($7) come with chocolate and caramel sauce, which made mom one happy camper. (They also offer churro breakfast shots!)

Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita: You've been eating great food all day on this flavor-town fiesta, so why not finish the night with a Patron margarita tower ($48)? Choose four margaritas to toast good times, great company and no hangovers! Pick from all four classic or flavored ($60), which come in guava, mango, strawberry, passion fruit, coconut or spicy. 



Emma Burke Jolly

Emma Burke Jolly has worked at Observer Media Group since 2018 as the digital fulfillment specialist. Originally from Connecticut, this Gulf Coast transplant loves being by the water, reminiscing about what Longboat Key looked like in 1990, navigating life with her husband and their two Maine Coon cats, and sharing her foodie findings with you.

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