We tried to eat here last year, but the line was out the door. This time we arrived well before 5 o’clock opening on a weekday and sat outside in the crazily-warm November breeze in the al-fresco area watching traffic go by. A woman came out to light our votive candles on the table; sorry we were not able to order a drink. Presently a gentleman came out and asked if we had reservations, we did not. He explained there was the “fancy” dining room with more large-plate selections, and the main room with small plates – he would try to get us into the dining room.
Come 5 PM we were escorted by the same gentleman (who as it turns out was an assistant manager) into the small room — he was not able to get us into the main room. Bummer, On the way in he described briefly the history of the space. We sat at a nice table for two at the window – good to be early. A busboy brought wonderful chips and a black bean dip with a subtle spice — nice change from the usual salsa. I ordered a guacamole-of-the-day with pomegranate pips – one of the best guacs I have had. I will say again, chips were excellent.
The server Jessica introduced herself and her trainee at her hip, and pointed at the wall full of different tequilas. I ordered a Tradicional margarita, she asked if I wanted to try an “upgrade” tequila and described the differences. I stuck with the stock version. My wife had a Coladita, pineapple juice and coconut liquor. Both were good; the margarita was not great, and for $10 seemed small. I have trouble identifying good tequila, so it may be better than I can tell.
The server described the dishes available. I chose the Bien Trucha tacos, with grilled skirt steak & chorizo. Wonderful. My wife had the a la Diabla with sauteed shrimp and a butter-mojo de ajo. The tacos came 4 to a plate, sized to be easy to eat. We traded a taco (food is very shareable) and we both liked the other’s dish.
For our dinner drinks, I had a Michelada with Negra Modelo Dark and various flavorings in a salted glass, as I had discovered in Cancun, and it was as good as I remember – reminiscent of a Bloody Mary with a Mexican twist. My wife had the Chelada which was basically Negra Modelo Dark in a salted glass with lime. She preferred the Michelada. I forgot how good they are, especially in summer.
Summary: wonderful meal and drinks, fun, loud atmosphere, impeccable casual service. I would not hesitate to return, perhaps with a reservation to try the larger-plate dining room. They also have a lunch time “LIL DONKEYS” menu that really looks good. Recommended.
Also reviewed on Yelp