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Ride On Over For Mexican Cuisine
By Rosalind Jennings
January 31, 2002
Mexican food and motorcycles mix at a new Mount Dora restaurant.
The Mexican cafe, El Filling Station, is owned by Ron Diaz, who was born in Puerto Rico, reared in Spain and lived for a time in the Chicano culture of east Los Angeles. He said it gives him a smattering of Hispanic cultures to pull from.
He mixed his Hispanic heritage with his love of travel and opened the California-Mexican cafe early last September.
Diaz and his manager, Scott Dollinger, are especially interested in attracting motorcycle and automobile buffs traveling in groups on recreational cruises.
"I wanted to marry my hobby of motorcycles with food," Diaz said.
The men would like recreational travelers to choose the cafe over stops at fast-food establishments.
Diaz owned and operated the Orlando eatery Ron's L.A. Tacos for seven years.
"I had quite a following in Orlando. This is an extension of that," Diaz said. "It's the same cuisine, but we're taking it to another level."
The seating for the cafe is outside amid decorative gas pumps and foliage. The inside, at 500 square feet, is for ordering only, with the kitchen in full view.
"We don't hide anything here," Dollinger said. "You can walk in, and we are cooking what you'll eat."
Burritos, tacos, black bean soup and taco salads are some menu items, along with sides of guacamole, varieties of salsa and flan, all made from scratch.
Dollinger said Quesadilla "Ducati" is popular. It's a combination of chicken and cheddar cheese with Italian-blend pico de gallo. Fish tacos, Ensenada style, are sold on Fridays.
There are entrees with beef, pork and chicken, along with vegetarian fare such as bean burritos.
"Cooking has always been my passion," Dollinger said.
Diaz and Dollinger said they chose their location at 846 E. Fifth Ave., at Highland Street, because it's an intersection for bikers and motorists alike.
"Just like all roads lead to Rome -- 44, 46, 19 and 441 all lead to Mount Dora," Diaz said. "And as far as bikers go, all roads lead to Mount Dora."
"We want to be the center of the biker's destination," Dollinger said.
True to its theme, the cafe replicates a 1940s gas station -- with authentic '40s gas pumps -- along with at least one antique car or motorcycle gracing its exterior, and a large selection of plants.
There's no gasoline -- the gas pumps are for show -- but air pumps and water are available for vehicle maintenance.
For information, call El Filling Station at 352-383-6664.