Boyfriend and I had a lovely dinner last night at Molcajete Mixto at 8th and Christian. If you're in the mood for Mexican that's fairly upscale (but not as loud as El Vez or as packed as Lolita) and completely unpretentious, I'd highly suggest giving this place a shot.
We easily got a parking spot out front (and there are apparently free municipal lots nearby, according to the restaurant's webpage, http://www.molcajetemixto.com/. When we went in the place was pretty empty, but was starting to fill up by the time we left at 8:30 p.m. They do accept reservations, but I don't think it's really necessary.
1. The service was phenomenal. Water glasses were never below half full; silverware was replaced before each course. My boyfriend remarked on the stealthy nature of the service--as soon as we finished one course, the next was ready. Servers were very open to questions; we were thanked profusely for coming in, etc. They really made you feel at home.
2. MM is BYOB. We brought tequila, and were given a choice of several homemade mixes (peach, mango, lime). We chose lime--for $6, the mix was a bargain and as good as Lolita's homemade lime brew.
3. The chips were perfectly salted and cooked, and the homemade salsas were a treat--the pico was slightly sweet, and the verde had a nice kick. Since we were warned that portions were large, we just opted to order entrees. However, the owner brought us complimentary two bowls of the black bean soup "just so we could try it." It was quite good--the touch of cream amped up the smooth, subtle flavor of the beans. I'm not even a huge fan of black beans, and I inhaled the entire bowl.
4. I ordered the molcajete mixto ($19)--grilled skirt steak, cactus strips, chicken breast served in a Molcajete with an ancho, tomatillo chile sauce. It came with tortillas and was far too large of a portion for me--I might have eaten 1/3 of it, and I was hungry. Well seasoned, not too much spice (though plenty for flavor). The cactus was a nice touch, and the steak was tender. Even the accompanying refried beans were better than your average beans--nice, creamy flavor.
5. My boyfriend had a special that night, swordfish with grilled pineapple and peppers with a polenta. The swordfish wasn't exceptionally cooked (a bit mushy), but the seasonings were good and the polenta was divine. I think you have to stick to the menu--the specials, though reasonably priced at $15, I have a feeling aren't as good..
We finished up with the La Colombe coffee. Total check was less than $50, and we left with plenty of leftovers and a very full belly.
If you're in the neighborhood, or just want something a little different, I'd give it a shot.