“Go. It’s delicious.” Those were the words my Cuban coworker told me when I mentioned Garcia’s recently. It’s a Mexican place, just north of 285 on Chamblee-Dunwoody, in the same strip mall as a Kroger grocery. I found it intriguing that most of the comments on Urbanspoon about this restaurant were in Spanish. I thought I had a good shot at a respectable restaurant with an original menu.

Once on site, on the outside it looks like any traditional strip mall eatery. Inside it’s far more lively. A man-sized inflatable bottle of beer greets you at the door. Colors abound: yellow, orange, red, blue and white all grace the walls. There are carved representations of fruits and vegetables on the walls, pictures, and a lot of potted plants. The walls are dressed in Christmas lights, many of the overhead lights are colored. In some spots, carved Mayan images dot the walls. There is a piñata hanging from the ceiling. Collectively, it’s far too personal and homelike to be a mass market chain.

Service here was casual. When you needed it, you had it, but no one was filling glasses every five minutes. There were a lot of pairs taking their time and talking casually over Garcia’s chips and excellent salsa.

The menu has only one item that resembles “Atlanta Tex-Mex” and that’s the Speedy Gonzales. Other than that, Garcia’s is pretty much its own creation. The chips come fast, and they are dry and warm, and the salsa is good, fresh, full of cilantro and pretty spicy. This isn’t watered down kid’s stuff on these tables.

Because of my diet, I ordered two steak tacos. You can get tacos cheaper if you get them a la carte, but I ordered a combo plate (no rice). The combo plate added refried beans (cheese on the top), some pico de gallo, some sour cream. You could smell the meat when the plate arrived at my table and it smelled fantastic.

I loved the tacos. You could taste the marinade in the meat, it came through clearly. The only issue I had is that after eating here, I was ravenous. It brings to mind Dr David Kessler’s thesis that the restaurant industry is using the unholy trio of salt, sugar, and fat to make us eat even more. Of course, most people in a Mexican restaurant can do that with the cheap carbs available here, chow down on the chips, nibble on the rice. And if I weren’t watching my weight, I probably would have ordered one of the many egg dishes Garcia’s offers. But I am, and it was back to the office and a bag of carrots for me. Licking my lips, of course.

Verdict: Original, personal, homey, and good. Highly recommended.

Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant
4514 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Dunwoody, GA 30338-6272
(770) 458-6122

Garcia's on Urbanspoon