I recently spent a weekend in Ocala. While I only live an hour south, Ocala is one of those places that we Orlandoans tend to think of as “country” (and it is) and along with “country” we think of little Mom and Pop diners. We don’t think of Ocala as a place to have restaurants that cater to those on vegetarian, gluten-free or low calorie diets. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of places that were not only accommodating, but also delicious.
The Mojo Grill is one of those places. As a matter of fact, the Mojo Grill was a really cool and funky place. We were there on a Saturday afternoon and the place was packed. There was several groups celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, many families on an outing, and couples enjoying a meal on a sunny afternoon.
The décor may remind you of a Hard Rock Cafe, only here at The Mojo Grill, the music doesn’t rip your ears off, and it’s a little more nostalgic than today’s rap. Elvis, the Goo Goo Dolls, Cyndi Lauper….all the great artists through the years. Most impressive at the East Ocala location is the blue room with a towering ceiling and a ladder of guitars that twists its way up.
The first thing on the menu that caught my eye was the Cajun Boiled Peanuts appetizers. I ordered these despite Mr. Beet not being a fan. Big mistake. These are mandatory sharable as it is a huge portion. Then again, more for me! And they were warm and spicy, everything a perfect boiled peanut should be.
The Mojo Grill offers a wide variety of foods, as mentioned before, including separate menus for gluten-free, vegetarian, and lighter fare options. There is a lot to choose from. Appetizers like fried pickles and pulled pork nachos, salads, wings, a variety of burgers and sandwiches, and entrees like shrimp and grits and a Cuban pork dinner.
Mr. Beet and I initially both chose the blackened mahi fajitas for lunch, but he decided to try the Mandingo Mahi sandwich. Blackened mahi on a bun served with black beans and rice. He liked it a lot as it wasn’t too spicy but blackened well.
I loved the fajitas. The mahi wasn’t as plump or ample as I would probably like, but, the fajitas were enormous. More than enough to share.
The condiments were the usual – cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream and the mahi was on a hot platter with peppers and onions. With a little help from Mr. Beet, we were able to finish the fajitas up without the need for a leftover container. But we were stuffed.
The Mojo Grill has three locations in the Ocala area, each as unique as the next. That doesn’t technically make it a chain restaurant, but if that doesn’t convince you, the food will. This is not the food of a chain restaurant. Definitely try the cajun boiled peanuts. 4 1/2 out of 5 sprouts.