Mexican (border)

The dish is called, modestly, mejillones, Spanish for “mussels”. But it isn’t just mussels. They toss in Spanish sausage, and bathe it in a tomato beer creole sauce. The sauce is chunky and a little spicy. It is delivered in a cast iron skillet, piping hot. Alongside the dish are strips of bread, to take this goodness and scoop. The result is one of the best servings of mussels – well, food of any kind – that I’ve had in the city.

Mejillones. Really excellent.

Mejillones. Really excellent.

Armando’s Caribe is a restaurant that serves largely two cuisines, Mexican and Cuban. There are hints of other cuisines here and there, a jerk chicken wing, but it’s mostly Mexican and Cuban, aiming for a tropical atmosphere. The staff are clearly Latin, and the restaurant collectively gives you the feeling that it’s the real deal.


I also had the ropa vieja that day, a Cuban dish. Good, but not the mind blowing delight of their mussels. In any event, a restaurant that can put out a great dish and otherwise some good ones is worth keeping on the radar (for example, the old Checkered Parrot’s nachos). And with the mejillones at Armando’s, it absolutely qualifies.

Armando’s Caribe
3170 Peachtree Industrial
Duluth, GA 30097
(770) 232-9848

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It’s a pretty watering hole, Cinco is, and a good place to stop with the guys, or a girlfriend, take in the atmosphere, enjoy some modest eats. The deal with Cinco is that they start with good ingredients, and deliver a solid, not brilliant, product.


Braised short rib enchiladas are an example of what they deliver. Cinco is clearly dealing in border cuisine (Tex-Mex, Tejano, what have you), as opposed to authentic Mexican cuisine.


Pretty chips basket.

Pretty chips basket.

It’s a companionable place, and as stated, really good looking.

Cinco Mexican Cantina
1500 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Suwanee, GA 30024
(678) 541-0645

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PS – Chloe’s review of five years ago is still a good description of this place.

Chuy’s surprised me a little. I was expecting a fajita-heavy restaurant with a dinner emphasis. Instead, I got a more fun happy hour oriented place, brightly colored, and one whose food has culinary influences from the state of New Mexico, particularly in their heavy use of green chiles from the Hatch, New Mexico area.



It’s the green chile touch that makes this more than a generic Texas Tex-Mex chain. Otherwise, it’s kind of Cheeseburger in Paradise with a sombrero, a place to eat light hearted food where the proteins are just okay and the sauces and salsas are often above average.


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is what they call this. The chicken is forgettable, but the cheese and green chiles in the Boom Boom sauce give this dish a worthwhile bite.

To note, this location will be celebrating its one year anniversary on Thursday, December the 6th, and if you like the idea of a lingering happy hour and food specials, try to show up and attend.


118 Perimeter Center West
Atlanta, GA 30346
(770) 351-7777

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Raging Burrito has good food, great beer, and plenty of character, a trip back to the early 1970s in some ways. In others it’s quite modern (a 1970s Tex Mex place would never have served fish tacos, for example).

Beef, pork, and fish tacos.

It also bends with the breeze in other ways. The brisket taco they serve is good, perhaps the best taco of the three I tried, and the beer selection on tap is a really good one.

Service was excellent.

Raging Burrito and Taco
141 Sycamore St
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 377-3311

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Casa Milagro is a highly regarded Richardson restaurant, and checking out reviews by Regular Joe and Bill Hensley, I decided it was promising. It was close enough to the hotel to make it worth a trip, and this eatery ended up being my #1 target while in Texas. There was no guarantee I’d have family, as my daughter and wife were attending a Supernatural convention at the time.

With some luck, my family was available for a late lunch, so we headed up US 75 to this eatery. It’s in a L shaped strip mall, and the restaurant itself is back from the road. Inside, it’s neat, unassuming, clean, and efficient.

Salsa and chips are free with the meal. The salsa here has plenty of cilantro, the red having a bite you don’t get in Atlanta. The chips were dry.

Eight different kinds of “honest to God” chile rellenos.

One of the things I was looking forward to from a Texas Tex Mex eatery was a chance to get a real chile relleno. You don’t see very many good ones in Atlanta. And very often, ordering a chile relleno in Atlanta gets you a ring of bell pepper with 3-4 tablespoons of ground meat in the middle (if Atlanta Tex Mex serves a real chile relleno, they will call it a chile poblano). So, to my great pleasure, Casa Milagro served 8 different kinds of chile rellenos.

I ended up ordering the brisket and honchos relleno. My wife had a pair chicken enchiladas with a tomatillo sauce, and my daughter had enchiladas de guiso, cheese enchiladas on which pork guiso, a Mexican pork stew, was poured.

A real chile relleno, stuffed with brisket and mushrooms.

Inside of the relleno.

Enchiladas de guiso, the hit of the meal.

Chicken enchiladas with a tomatillo sauce. Brown rice was the side.

The favorite dish of the meal was the enchiladas de guiso. We all thought it had more flavor than anything else we ate. My relleno was pretty popular as well. The tomatillo sauce on my wife’s enchiladas ran a little more sour than what she was used to, but they ended up being finished as well. All in all, Casa Milagro served a really fine meal. We left happy we had been to Casa Milagro.

The Impalas. Supernatural fans will know what this means ;).

Casa Milagro
1403 East Campbell Road
Richardson, TX 75081
(972) 234-6999

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PS – for those unfamiliar with pork guiso, the Busy Gourmand has a nice article on this Mexican stew.

Yes, we’ve been here, and this restaurant has been reviewed at least twice (see here and here and here). But there have been some changes since. The habanero salsa is gone, the corn cobs are now corn chunks. The menu was subdued, reduced in size because of the holiday. That said, we found a few things to nibble on.

squid quesadilla.


Roasted corn.

Beans and rice.

Little Mexico is showing some interesting lunch specials on their blackboard.

We were able to take advantage of those recently. Shown below is their hot and spicy burrito. Ground beef, beans and rice, along with a spicy salsa mark this lunchtime choice.

The chile relleno lunch special is also a whole pepper, as opposed to a ring of pepper with a little beef poured inside.

It’s one thing to have a good, easy to access bar and grill alongside an Interstate. It’s yet another to have one with local ownership, an original menu, and above average food. That’s what Clinton MS has, just off exit 36 on I-20, in the Froghead Grill. Yes, you can find bar staples such as burger and quesadillas here, but it’s the Cajun touches that stand out to me. The gumbo? One of the better I’ve had. There was no need to add any spice to that mix of sausage and crawfish. The burgers are oversized and juicy. The burger choices in general are creative (they have a version of SpongeBob’s Crabby Patty), and feature interesting bread on the bun.

Good gumbos are hard to find, and this is a good one.

If you’re a foodie, and tired of the chain scene, this is a stop on the way to Louisiana or Texas to mark down and find time to enjoy. I did. It was well worth it.

Froghead Grill
121 Clinton Center Drive
Clinton, MS 39056
(601) 924-0725

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El Molcajete is a small chain, with a version out in the Hamilton Mill area, an exit or two north of the Mall of Georgia exit. Exit 85 onto Hamilton Mill, heading west, and the restaurant will be on your left. It’s in a strip mall, one that has a restaurant named ‘Oriental’ and that bright ‘Oriental’ is much easier to see than the green letters of El Molcajete.

This is a restaurant with a large menu. Parts of it look like the same old Atlanta style Tex Mex. Yes, you can find a “Speedy Gonzales” here. But other parts, especially dinner entrees, are more authentic. My daughter spotted the Super Molcajete and ordered that. I saw a spicy seafood soup and ordered that. We called my wife and she wanted fajitas to go.

You get free chips and salsa with your meal. Chips are crisp, dry, and good. Even the ‘to go’ chips retain that character. El Molcajete has 2 salsas. The chipotle salsa, the dark one, is rich in flavors and much better than the stock red.

Super Molcajete. A dish for two.

Spicy seafood soup. Plates like canned vegetable soup, but much better tasting.

The servings size here is enormous. The molcajete dish (grilled meats and veggies in a stone mortar) is a meal for two. The soup was enough for one. The grilled pepper in the molcahete has some real bite, if you eat it with seeds. But it looked so enticing I asked my daughter for a bite.

In terms of sheer display, the molcajete here is a disappointment compared to Zapatas. No bubbly cheese, the dish arrived barely steaming. The soup, for that matter, arrived with carrots as a significant component of the ‘eye candy’. Yes, it was nice that a half cluster of crab was visible, but plating a beautiful dish isn’t the focus at this eatery. Instead, it’s a clearly suburban joint. The “Speedy Gonzales” shows that. The decent food in enormous quantities shows that.

My soup had a partial crab cluster, plenty of fish, some shrimp, a good broth that got better as the meal went on. My daughter’s dish had things like grilled sausage, grilled chicken, a skewer of shrimp, the lovely pepper, and some grilled cactus. Both dishes were worthwhile.

In summary, the originality of El Molcajete makes it worth the trouble, if you’re up around Buford, to seek out. But the style of food is clearly playing to neighborhood tastes, as opposed to being a routine destination for ITPers.

El Molcajete
2590 Hamilton Mill Road
Buford, GA 30519
(678) 394-5200

El Molcajete Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

A new Del Taco now occupies prime Snellville real estate, the old location of Fazoli’s, roughly at the corner of Ronald Reagan and 124. It is, if Tone to Atlanta can be believed, the largest extant Del Taco anywhere. I heard somewhere that it’s the first Del Taco in the state of Georgia since their bankruptcy, and it has enough buzz that Grant Goggans came out, ate, and gave a very lyrical, impressionistic review of the restaurant.

Back of the Del Taco

It’s crowded, this Del Taco, lines circling the building, men outside with electronic pads because the drive through electronics aren’t working. The press of people for a chain whose best selling point is as a counterweight to Taco Bell, a Burger King to Taco Bell’s McDonalds, is fascinating, in a human train wreck kind of way.

I wasn’t able to go in the beginning, though by the time I made it with my daughter, my wife and daughter had already been three times. Inside, the lines that snaked half way through the building, the smell of burgers and french fries, were clear reminders that this isn’t even close to authentic, it’s a classic American attempt to side-step any sign of ethnicity in ethnic food.

Food as wrapped and delivered

Shrimp taco. Decent shrimp, but too much mayo for my daughter's tastes.

Does that meat look grilled to you?

The food comes to you in little aluminum bundles, perfect as missles in a high school food fight. Yes, designed to be taken home, as opposed to appreciated on the table. That’s the only reason I can come up with to explain how unappealing their tacos actually are. Grey wet meat with almost no visible sear dominates their tacos. But if you taste the meat, then yes, something was grilled at some time.

I knew coming in, it would be good. I had a bite of one of my daughter’s tacos before showing, and it was quite tasty. The taco above was quite good as well. And I’m left a little mystified, as how they could grill anything and come up with a taco that looks like it spent most of its time in a pot of boiling water.

I think I’ll leave that one to the fast food philosophers, or the french fry poets.

Meats? Essentially two choices here, chicken and steak, with fried fish as one seafood option and fried shrimp as another (they do have that fried thing going). No tortas, but burgers are possible. I recall quesadillas, as well as a meatless option.

Hot sauces turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Both their sauces and their salsas are good, better I think, than the food they grace. DelScorcher, their medium sauce, has some bite and the hot salsa has some richness to it and balance.

It’s also going to be open 24 hours, so this Del Taco helps fill a void in the Snellville life style, as most of the restaurants around here tend to close by around 9-10pm.

In summary? Very typed, lots of buzz, lots of press and crowds currently. Food doesn’t look very appealing to me, but better tasting than it looks. They have hot sauces whose packets are worth hoarding.

Del Taco
1895 Scenic Highway
Snellville, GA 30078
(770) 978-0361

Del Taco on Urbanspoon

Note: The wifi here not only does not work, the signal from the nearby McDonalds is stronger in the store than is Del Taco’s own wifi signal. It would be best to bring a mifi or a tethered phone when you come.

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