Girl can’t help it, she’s a total sucker for the whole ¡fiesta-en-la-hacienda! vibe, which this place has got down to una ciencia, door to nook:
That said, I’m not such a shoulder-padded, headband-wearing, Frosty-the-Snowman-lapel-pin-at-Christmas-pinning, ‘rita-swilling Cathy or Kathie
(image swiped from this guy’s Flickr set)
that I’d equate the charmingly corny decor (decorn?) with winning comida. On the contrary, don’t we loyal self-styled chowhounds err on the side of equating austerity with authenticity (putting aside the vexed definition of the word)? Then again, don’t we promptly, as even more fiercely determined chowhounds, remind ourselves upon erring to shelve our preconceived notions for the nonce? In short I went & sat & chewed physically & chewed mentally.
Verdict: Eh. Así así.
First of all, speaking of ‘ritas, the house marg didn’t have a thing going for it, being light on the tequila & heavy on a sweet-&-sour mix that wasn’t even close to housemade. It wasn’t even in the same town. The trio of salsas, which was, wasn’t bad—especially, surprisingly enough, the mildest one, which contained a touch of oil that gave it some body to separate it from pico de gallo—though the chips they accompanied were straight from the bag.
You have to pay for the good chips, chimayo-dusted flour-tortilla wedges with a nifty little puff to them,
which come with the El Favorito de Todos alongside avocado dip—way too creamy for genuine guac, it must’ve been cut with sour cream or something—
& the far better but no less crappy (if you get me) pulled duck quesadilla smeared with some sort of creamy-sweet junk that was supposedly the house mango-chile sauce. Hey, I like a sheer mess of gooey-crispy carbs & fat as much as the next guy. Maybe not the guy after that (he’s huge!), but at least the 1 guy.
Queso fundido rounded out the combo:
Beneath that sludge of Monterey Jack was actually some pretty decent, slightly spicy, loose-packed crumbled chorizo, all its grease pooled for sopping up with still-warm albeit prepackaged flour tortillas.
Pan-seared trout was fair enough—properly cooked if undercrusted with crushed almonds, pecans & pepitas so that it was tough to distinguish 1 nut crumb from another.
Conversely, the chiles rellenos were overeverything: overbreaded, oversauced, oversmothered & overstuffed with undistinguished queso, which the Anaheims—offering no flavor of their own—basically just sheathed like thankless green condoms.
The beans compensated slightly, rich & cooked to a soft bite. But black beans don’t apparently replace white bread around here.