So me and my friend were walking around West End (Brighton Ave) after a run on the boardwalk, and happened to come across this new Mexican restaurant diagonally across from Surf Taco, where another Latin restaurant used to be. It might have been the restaurant's grand opening, there was staff walking around town handing out menus. After perusing it, we decided to give it a try. The major pull was the big outdoor seating, really. Also, it was completely empty, so we figured the service would be fast.
When we poked our heads in, we were greeted very warmly. The staff was very pleasant and friendly. It seems like the restaurant is family-owned, run by actual Mexicans. It had the feel of Oaxaqueno, but catered to the West End crowd. I ordered steak fajitas and my friend ordered carne tampiquena (as described in the menu, broiled shell steak Mexican style with cheese enchilada).
Part of what compelled me to write this review was that the salsa was amazing. It had that garden fresh taste to it and ample heat. While we waited, they surprised us with complementary little quesadillas. I've never gone to a restaurant on it's opening day, I don't know if that's customary, but it was a nice treat! Then our meals came. My steak fajita wasn't typical Tex-Mex (it wasn't served sizzling and didn't come with cheese, sour cream, and all that jazz), but it was delicious! They were big juicy cuts of meat with some decent char, in a tasty sauce that was brothy and homey. The refried beans were well-seasoned, and the tortillas appeared to be fresh and homemade. The pico de gallo included peppers with some nice heat to it. The "salad" included in my dish was a little skimpy, consisting of a bit of iceberg lettuce and a couple of slices of tomato and peppers, and two thin slivers of avocado. I especially wished for more avocado. But that's the only slightest complaint I had for my dish, I usually expect "salads" within a dish to essentially be a garnish. Everything else was a generous amount, I didn't even finish it. (I took it to go and ate it the day after, and it still tasted delicious). I didn't get to try my friend's dish, but he heaped a lot of praise on it as well.
Around the end of our meal a lot more people started piling in. We didn't see our server for awhile and it took awhile to get our check, but I don't hold that against them as they're obviously going to be a little disorganized on their first day. And they were very attentive for most of the meal, it was only until the end that we had to wait a bit. They had one person stationed outside to do water refills, which he did promptly, and the server and manager checked in frequently.
Also! We were surprised, AGAIN, with complimentary dessert! It's funny because I've been trying to practice portion control (I tend to overeat until it hurts), but no way could I pass up on the freebies. Dessert was a chimichanga with banana-honey filling topped with whip cream and a dusting of cinnamon. It was a little hard to cut into, but problem solved by just picking it up and biting into it. Overall, a really satisfying meal. I don't usually write reviews, but I really hope they do well, so I wanted to spread the word. It's a nice addition to the West End downtown.
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