Mexican


This eatery occupies the spot long held by El Chico in this town, and is a more focused eatery than the stock Mexican chain. Their focus is fajitas, and they do a solid, not spectacular, job of providing this Tex-Mex staple.

img_6831

img_6833

We came at lunch, and they plate a better lunch fajita than most do.

img_6834

As you can see, the fajitas are served in a metal liner on the wooden plate. Plating on metal is important, as it’s part of the presentation. A good shop will spray citrus juice into a hot liner before serving, so the dish arrives steaming.

img_6837

Chimi V’s manage to do a solid job with things like tacos and enchiladas as well. In all, Chimi’s is a respectable lunch spot, and can be recommended on those grounds.

Chimi V’s
2050 Old Minden Rd
Bossier City, LA 71111
(318) 741-3144

Chimi V's Fajita Factory on Urbanspoon

Las Costas Nayaritas is unique. There is nothing like this restaurant in the city. It is an eatery focused almost purely on coastal Mexican seafood combinations. The closest to this theme was the old U.S.S. Vallarta, now long gone from Gwinnett Place Mall. There was a restaurant similar to this that I saw in Dallas, Big Shucks, but Big Shucks was largely oriented towards shrimp cocktails of various kinds, inexpensive beer, and futbol on large television screens.

img_6776

I showed up at this restaurant a day before their Grand Opening, at a time when their lunch menu was also their dinner menu, and so the lunch I had may not be the lunch offering you get. What I saw were a lot of staple seafood varieties and not a lot of exotica. There were things on the menu like crab, clams, oysters, shrimp, and octopus. Fish included tilapia, salmon, and perhaps a flatfish or two. There aren’t many exotic or rare items.

Tortillas are large, crisp, corn based and a little granular on the tongue. The tostada appetizer is better than anything I ever had at Lobster House.

Tortillas are large, crisp, corn based and a little granular on the tongue. The free tostada appetizer is better than anything I ever had at Lobster House.

The plates of food tend to be expensive, relative to prices you might see at a Red Lobster. But by way of compensation, the serving sizes are *enormous*. No other word for it, enormous. This is a place to feed a lot of people with a few plates of food.

Unless you eat Thai bird peppers for fun, be sparing of this hot sauce.

Unless you eat Thai bird peppers for fun, be sparing of this hot sauce.

What I ordered was the filete relleno, which Google tells me translates to ‘stuffed filet’. In fact this is a filet of tilapia over which a mixed bag of seafood and white cheese is poured. Again, the serving easily could have fed two and for the price, was actually a generous amount of food.

This photo doesn't really give the viewer any feel for how large this plate really is.

This photo doesn’t really give the viewer any feel for how large this plate really is.

I spent a lot of time fishing the interesting bits out of the white cheese and trying them out. The dish was delicious. The octopus ran a little chewy but it was sliced so thin that wasn’t an issue. In the mix were things like fish, shrimp, octopus, crab meat, sauteed mushrooms, and various vegetables.

The sheer novelty of the restaurant has me contemplating it still. I think what would work best for most folks is to go in groups, buy one or two plates and share. I don’t think it has small amounts of food for small eaters. Serving size tends to be enough for two normal eaters (or one Chloe Morris).

Update 9/8/2013: as Emily of Spatial Drift points out, the style of this cuisine is Nayarit. A nice introduction to Nayarit cuisine online can be found here.

Las Costas Nayaritas
1555 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 635-6000

Las Costas Nayaritas on Urbanspoon

Barberitos is a smallish chain which started in Athens and grew. They deal in border cuisine, and are the kind of restaurant that insists they’re not a fast food chain. They call themselves quick to serve instead.

There is some basis for making this kind of distinction. They prep their foods every morning, and rather than using only generic ground meats in their preparations, they do grill steak, and you can get grilled chicken as well. The cheese they use is the Mexican white you’ll see at Buford Highway Farmer’s Market, not a big wheel of Longhorn cheddar. Salsas are fresh. Their chipotle hot sauce has a bite to it.

When I arrived, a little after 11 on a Saturday, they were still preparing the meats of the day, apologizing for their slowness – they had done a large catering event the night before, or were explaining what they put in their cheese dip. In a word, it seemed as if everyone knew what they were doing and were ready to explain it to anyone who showed. This is not ordinary in a fast food quick to serve restaurant.

img_6753

The items served here are, unless you’re selective, heavy on rice and beans. The quesadillas are not. They have a salad that’s acceptable if you’re avoiding carbs.

The salsa bar is appealing and the chipotle hot sauce has a kick to it.

The salsa bar is appealing and the chipotle hot sauce has a kick to it.

img_6754

Anyway, the salsa were enjoyable, the cheeses went over well with me. I thought I had a good, decent quesadilla here. Not blow you away but good enough. I probably liked the atmosphere here most of all, of a new restaurant starting its day, and how engaged the staff was and proud of the work they did. At this restaurant, it came shining through.

Barberitos
5610 Roswell Rd., Suite 110
Sandy Springs, GA 30342
(404) 943-1000

Barberitos on Urbanspoon

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.

img_6746

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

Armando's Caribe on Urbanspoon

In Richardson, a suburb of Dallas, Texas, they have a seafood spot called Big Shucks.

This isn’t a place to eat and watch football, unless your game is fútbol. But it does offer some Latin influenced dishes. This shrimp cocktail, rich in cilantro and tasting more like a juiced up salsa, is one of them.

Big Shucks
103 S Coit Rd
Richardson, TX 75080
(972) 231-8202

Big Shucks on Urbanspoon

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

Casa Milagro on Urbanspoon

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

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.

Next Page »