Lawrence, Kansas: I Have To Pay For Chips And Salsa? Really?


Tortas Jalisco
534 Frontier Road
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: (785) 865-1515
Website: tortasjalisco.com
Prices: $$$$

We used to eat here quite frequently. Now I remember why we stopped going to Tortas Jalisco.


First, you have to pay $2.79 for chips and salsa. I have never eaten at another Mexican restaurant that makes you pay for chips and salsa.

Second, the $4 house margarita is small, maybe 12 ounces tops, with little if any tequila. A waste of $4. I got a better buzz from the ice water.

Third, the guacamole ($4.99) is very small and loaded with tomatoes and onion (filler). $2.99 maybe, $4.99 forget it.
Fourth, they have raised their prices on many dishes by a buck or cut the amount of food. For example, you now only get 4 tacos for $6.99 (instead of 5) and they eliminated carne asada (steak) as a “meat” option, the only choices now being chorizo, pork (carnitas or adobada), chicken or ground beef, all of which are much less costly than steak.
Finally, the food is mediocre by California or Texas standards, but slightly above average for Lawrence. The place is always empty, likely the result of weak, overpriced margaritas and having to pay for chips and salsa … this is a college town folks!
CombatCritic Downgrades Tortas Jalisco To 5 Out Of 10 Bombs (Rounded Up To 3 Out Of 5 Stars) … More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:


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Title: I Have To Pay For Chips And Salsa? Really?

Key Words: Tortas Jalisco, tortas, jalisco, Mexican, food, Lawrence, KS, 6th, street, taco, guacamole, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”
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Decent Tex-Mex In Spain … Que Paso?


Mexicano Tex-Mex
Calle Jose Maria Torres Murciano, 12, 
29603 Marbella, Spain
Phone: +34 952 866 680
Web: www.MexicanoMarbella.com
Prices: € € € € 


I saw this place on Yelp and could not resist after 2 1/2 months in Europe and NO MEXICAN FOOD. The first time I went, they were closed as it was just after 4:00pm and they did not open for dinner until 8pm (Spaniards eat late). I found myself in the area on my last full day in town, so I meandered past and sure enough they were open. 

It was about 2pm and the place was empty. It is nicely decorated inside, looking like many of their stateside cousins with sombreros and other colorful decorations adorning the walls. The owner speaks very little English, having resided in Rhode Island for a year, and his employees speak even less, but in this part of town, most of their customers are locals. A nice young lady soon arrived with some complimentary chips and chili con queso, looking like it likely came from a Tostito’s jar.

I had to try the guacamole (€5.40 – $5.85), usually a clear indication if the place is authentic or not and I have to say it was not bad. Fresh avocados mashed with onion and a little diced tomato (not very traditional) in a deep-fried flour tortilla bowl sitting atop a small lump of cold mashed potatoes. I was not sure why the potatoes were there other than to keep the bowl of guacamole from moving around, but the guacamole was pretty good, needing just a little more garlic and salt. The quality and quantity were pretty “average” compared to many stateside Mexican restaurants, and the chips were decent.

They had no combo plates and my Spanish is rudimentary at best or I would have tried a few different things, so I went with the taco plate (€7.50 – $8.10). The three taco shells looked like any other pre-fab version, not unlike many restaurants in Lawrence, Kansas where I hang out, so I cannot fault them for that. With no rice or beans, €2.50 a pop is a bit steep, but the tacos were not bad either. Containing something more resembling chili con carne than ground beef, the only other ingredient was melted cheese except for a small amount of pico di gallo on the side of the plate. Having saved some guacamole and the little bit of lettuce beneath it, I had everything I needed to compliment the tacos. The lady even brought me some salsa picante, a fiery green concoction that was very good. The tacos were a bit greasy, but the shells stood up to the moisture well and did not fall apart like many places I have been.
I also had a Negro Modelo beer (€2.90) and a tinto de verano (€1.30), so the drinks were very well priced compared to the food, which was a tad pricey, but not as bad as the many tourist traps in Marbella. I ended up paying around €15 plus tip (after my 15% discount), not that bad for a starter, main, and two drinks. The service was excellent and the staff very friendly as we attempted to bridge the communication gap.


CombatCritic Gives Mexicano Tex-Mex 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better … With An Extra Bomb Included For Effort!

Menu


As always, you can read my reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor 

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube







Title: Decent Tex-Mex In Spain … Que Paso?

Key Words: Tex-Mex, Mexicano, tex, mex, food, menu, Marbella, Spain, Malaga, taco, enchilada, burrito, guacamole, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide

One Of The Best (Not Tex-Mex) Mexican Restaurants in Lawrence? Not Much To Brag About!


Mi Ranchito
707 W. 23rd Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66046
Phone: (785) 727-2005
www.miranchitokc.com

Hours:
Sunday-Thurs 11am-10pm
Fri & Sat 11am-11pm

Prices: $$$$$
The Infamous “Bar” … My Home Away From Home

To be the BEST MEXICAN FOOD IN LAWRENCE the bar must not be set very high as I have yet to have a Mexican meal as good as the worst I have eaten in Texas, where I was a resident for 20 years, and not a single one comes close to resembling Tex-Mex. On that note, let me add my two cents …

 
The place was nearly full on a Sunday night, a rarity in Lawrence, particularly among Mexican restaurants, and normally a good sign. We were steered into the bar for some reason, asked if we wanted to sit at a “high-top” even though there were booths available in the bar and tables available in the restaurant. Maybe I look like a lush, but I think it was primarily because there was nobody in the bar and the bartender needed something to do. The lush that I am, I ordered the margarita special ($7.99), described as containing “El Jimador” tequila and not bad although the “20 ounces” were more like 13, coming in the standard “cheater” glass that looks big on the outside … well, you know what I mean. The house “grande” margarita ($6.25) was a better value, coming in the “20 ounce” glass but like its El Jimador cousin, a bit weak in terms of alcohol content.
 
The chips and salsa arrived rather quickly, the chips being far too thin and very likely out of a bag along with a red salsa and an odd looking yellowish-green sauce. The salsa was not bad with obvious hints of fresh cilantro. The other, described by one reviewer as a “lemon avocado” sauce, was strange, unlike anything I have ever had in a Mexican restaurant, but again not bad. The chips are so thin that they cannot be dipped in the salsa, which is not very thick to begin with, without breaking apart, leaving the basket more than half full of pieces of chips too small to eat.
 
Guacamole and Espinaca “Dips”

We decided on the Espinaca Cheese Dip ($5.99), a blend of hot cheese, white onions, tomatoes and spinach, and the guacamole ($6.99). The guacamole was described as “fresh and buttery avocados, cilantro, jalapeños, onions, lime juice and special spices” on the menu, but I found no evidence of either cilantro or jalapeño (or butter for that matter). I thought the price was a quite steep compared to other places in town, but the serving was large and the guacamole pretty good, not nearly as good as mine however. You can get a half and side order ($1.99) of guacamole which are not on the menu and I was told that the half order was $3.99, reasonable considering the price of the full order, but when the bill came I was charged $5.25, the equivalent of $10.50 for a full order. When I complained about the higher price, management quickly apologized and charged me the quoted $3.99 price, but insisted that $5.25 was the correct price. He told me hat he would “take it up with the company” (remember, this is a chain) to see about implementing a reasonable price.

The “espinaca” (spinach) cheese dip had too little spinach, much less name the dish after it, to mention and seemed to be more like your average chili con queso minus the chili, but it was big and decent. Again, my primary complaint being that the chips were too thin to withstand either “dip”, falling apart when submerged in either and resulting in a basket full of crumbles with very few whole chips.

 
$7.99 … Really?

Like most Italians my wife dislikes spicy food, especially Mexican (one of my favorites), ordering her standard “cheese quesadilla” … boring! At $7.99, I have to say that this was one of the most pitiful quesadillas I have ever seen and a terrible value. Charging $8 for a (small) flour tortilla, a couple ounces of cheese, a spoonful of sour cream and even less guacamole, and a thimbleful of pico de gallo (which was noticeably missing from the plate even though it is on the menu) should be a crime, highway robbery, but it’s not, so there you go.

 

As always, on my first visit to a Mexican restaurant, I ordered tacos and enchiladas to see if they could get even the simplest of recipes right, in this case el numero nueve, the #9 combo, with a burrito, taco, and enchilada, “machaca” (shredded beef) all. I have to say that the taco was the best I have had in recent years, having lived in the Midwest since 2008, being large, stuffed with plenty of machaca, deep fried, then topped with lettuce, cheese, and even some diced tomatoes. It would have been nearly perfect if the taco had a couple of thin slices of avocado on it, but we had plenty of guacamole leftover so it was not an issue, although a very good idea. The enchilada and burrito were both equally stuffed with shredded beef, but uninspiring with little to no cheese and smothered seemingly in the same red (enchilada?) sauce. The rice and beans were minimal, sprinkled with kernels of corn oddly enough and two deep-fried masa de maiz (corn meal dough) balls, another novelty … could it be Tex-Mex … not! The masa balls are excessively sweet and do not compliment the meals, so I would reduce the sugar or 86 them altogether. Beside the masa balls, everything was “OK”, but the taco was the star of the show and likely a staple if we return.

 
Cheese and Onion Enchilada ala carte ($3.19)

You can order ala carte although you would not know it from looking at the menu. I asked if I could order a cheese and onion enchilada ala carte and was told it would cost $3.19 plus tax, not unreasonable, so I decided to try one. The sauce was decent, but missing the distinct chili zing of a traditional enchilada sauce and the chili con carne you would find in authentic Tex-Mex cuisine. The cheese inside was plentiful, but a bit too runny, making it a little difficult to eat and there was not an onion in sight (or bite for that matter). Overall, it was not the best enchilada I have eaten and not the worst, but it was definitely NOT a cheese and ONION enchilada.

Service is very good and management is very responsive to customer concerns, all bending over backward to make things right and a breath of fresh air in an industry suffering from apathetic servers and managers. The prices were comparably a bit steep, except for the combinations oddly enough, the service good, and the food decent, maybe even one of the BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANTS IN LAWRENCE, but that is nothing to brag about!

 
CombatCritic Gives Mi Ranchito (Lawrence) 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … VERY AVERAGE … More Bombs Are Better!






Read More Reviews By CombatCritic, Including Mi Ranchito, On Yelp And TripAdvisor Along With Many Other Reviews And Much, Much More!

Title: One Of The Best (Not Tex-Mex) Mexican Restaurants in Lawrence … Not Much To Brag About!
 
Key Words: Mi Ranchito, mi, ranchito, Mexican, restaurant, food, taco, enchilada, burrito, guacamole, Lawrence, Kansas, 23rd, menu, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

As We Say On Yelp … “Meh, I’ve Experienced Better”


Hacienda Colorado
5246 N Nevada Ave
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
Phone: (719) 418-7999
Prices: $$$$$
Three steak tacos and a few black beans – $13
You would never know you were in a Mexican restaurant by the looks of the place. It looks more like a seafood restaurant or a steak house. Anyway, unlike most of my reviews, this will be short …
 
 
 
Food … average
Service … adequate
Prices … very high … $10 for guacamole?
Value … terrible
 
CombatCritic Gives Hacienda Colorado 3 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
 
 
Hacienda Colorado on Urbanspoon
Portobello Burrito – $11.59 … For A Burrito With No Meat?
Cheese and Onion Enchilada Ala Carte – $3.99
Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite ’14/’15 Member) And  TripAdvisor (“Top Contributor”) Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!
Title: As We Say On Yelp … “Meh, I’ve Experienced Better”
 
Key Words: Hacienda Colorado, hacienda, Colorado, Colorado Springs, Nevada, Mexican, menu, food, restaurant, taco, enchilada, guacamole, chips, salsa, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Arceo’s: Good, Consistent, Authentic Mexican Food at Reasonable Prices


Arceo’s
4608 Rusina Rd Colorado Springs, CO 

Phone: (719) 264-0143
$$$$$







The exterior leaves quite a bit to be desired, cracked cement sidewalks, poorly maintained landscaping, and a building in need of some TLC, but once inside a rainbow of color hits you like Dorothy experienced when exiting her house for there first time in the Land of Oz.

At $2.75, the guacamole is excellent and a terrific value when compared to similar portions in Kansas and Missouri (and Amanda’s Fonda) going for $5 to $7. The chips and salsa are made in house, complimenting the guacamole well. Their margaritas are not great, lacking flavor (and alcohol) and at $5 for a small house margarita, not a good value.

The Enchilada Tapatia, a rolled flour tortilla filled with chicken, onions and green peppers, cheese, and refried beans, then topped with enchilada sauce, melted cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole ($7.00), was massive and filling.

The Number One (#1 – $7.75), three crispy tacos with choice of ground beef, chicken, or shredded beef and lettuce, shredded cheese, and tomato chunks comes with rice and beans. I ordered the shredded beef variety and was disappointed by not only the taste of the beef, but also because the meat had not been drained well and by the time I got to my second taco they were soggy and falling apart. I do not enjoy eating tacos with a fork, but had no other choice. When I told the server about my disappointing experience, she said “sorry” and walked off.

The cheese and onion enchilada combination plate ($8.50) comes with three enchiladas stuffed with cheddar cheese and topped with sliced onion and a choice of red or green chili sauce, accompanied by rice and beans. These are some of the best enchiladas in Colorado Springs and eastward to Missouri.

Having eaten at this and Arceo’s South Nevada Avenue location on numerous occasions over the years, I have to say that this was not the best experience we have had. But everybody has a bad day now and then and Arceo’s has been consistently good in quality and value in a state not well known for great Mexican food.

CombatCritic Gives Arceo’s 7 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!

Arceo's Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Title: Arceo’s: Good, Consistent, Authentic Mexican Food at Reasonable Prices
Key Words: Arceo’s, Arceo, Mexican, restaurant, menu, food, taco, enchilada, burrito, guacamole, chips, salsa, margarita, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Rusina, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Anatomy of a Perfect Taco


Dear Mexican Restaurants (particularly those in Lawrence, Kansas),

Photo #1 – Taco – Side View

Tacos are not meant to be served in pre-fabricated corn shells as is the case in every Mexican restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas and across the country for that matter. A perfect taco starts with a handmade corn tortilla filled with cooked/seasoned meat (beef, chicken, pork), sealed with toothpicks (note the toothpick holes in photo #1), and deep fried to crispy golden goodness. Shredded beef is the preferred meat filling, but ground beef will suffice in most cases if seasoned well.

After frying, the toothpicks are removed from the piping hot taco shell and cheese, fresh lettuce, and tomato are stuffed inside. The best tacos I ever ate were in California, prepared like this, with thin slices of fresh avocado added (guacamole can be substituted) before serving. There should only be enough room for some fresh, homemade salsa before the first bite is taken. The shell should be crisp enough so that you get the signature taco crunch as you take a bite, yet soft enough so that it does not fall apart as you inhale, I mean eat, the entire taco.

Taco – Top View
These tacos are from Rancho Grande Cantina in Parkville, Missouri and are as close to perfect as I have found in the Midwest (minus the requisite tomato and avocado). Take note amigos and LET’S STAMP OUT PRE-FAB TACO SHELLS IN OUR LIFETIME!

Key Words: taco, tacos, shell, tortilla, corn, meat, beef, recipe, menu, beef, pork, chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pico di gallo, avocado, guacamole, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Burrito King … Monarch of Mediocre Mexican Meals



  • Burrito King
    900 Illinois St
    LawrenceKS 66044

  • Phone numb

  • (785) 832-2844


  • Prices: $$$$$

I love Mexican food and I like reasonably priced Mexican food even better. Enter Burrito King.
I have tried pretty much every Mexican restaurant in Lawrence and have been sadly disappointed by the mediocrity … and Burrito King did not let me down in that context. Just a few blocks from our home, I drive by the drive-in restaurant daily yet had not given them a try until yesterday.
You walk or drive up to a window to order and I was quickly greeted by a friendly young man eager to take my order, almost too eager in that I did not have a chance to read the menu posted outside before being prompted to order. I was surprised to find numerous other options beside burritos on the menu … tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas … all at fairly reasonable prices. I ordered the enchilada plate (3 enchiladas, rice, and beans for $6.95), a “steak” and bean burrito ($4.98), and chips and salsa ($2) in order to sample just a few options.
I prefer cheese and onion enchiladas and would think at the same price as meat (steak, chicken, pork) that there would be an abundance of fillings, but I was again disappointed. The red sauce covering the tubes of corn was bland and sparse, barely providing any flavor to the tortillas which were void of any significant fillings. I tasted no onions and the small amount of cheese inside did not quite make it it to the ends, leaving just tortilla and a little tasteless sauce for the first and last bite of each enchilada. The rice and beans were equally tasteless.
The burrito tasted “OK”, but there was very little “steak”, mostly beans, with a little cheese, and some some lettuce. At $5, I would expect a bit more beef and cheese, maybe some guacamole. The chips were crisp and tasty and the salsa well done, appearing homemade (not out of a can or jar) with hints of poblano pepper and cilantro.
Students probably love the quantities and prices offered at Burrito King, but for those of us who prefer quality over quantity, Burrito King falls short, at least on this visit.

CombatCritic Gives Burrito King 5 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!






Burrito King on Urbanspoon




Key Words: Burrito King, burrito, king, Lawrence, Kansas, Illinois, burritos, Mexican, food, eat, taco, enchilada, guacamole, cheese, beans, rice, CombatCritic, travel, value, TravelValue

Fast, Affordable, Friendly … FUZZY’S!


Great tacos … CHECK!
Tex-Mex style enchiladas … CHECK!
Fresh guacamole … CHECK!
Tasty chili con queso … CHECK!
Good margaritas … CHECK!
Get in line to order … CHECK!
Reasonable prices … CHECK!
Rowdy, friendly employees … CHECK!


CombatCritic Gives Fuzzy’s Tacos A Solid 9 Bombs Out Of 10 for solid, fast, affordable Mexican food … BOMBS ARE GOOD!






Fuzzy's Taco shop on Urbanspoon










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Key Words: Fuzzy’s Tacos, Fuzzy’s, tacos, taco, fuzzy, fuzzie, enchilada, burrito, guacamole, queso, cheese, margarita, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, street, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue

"El Sol" Is Not A New "Shining Star" In The Lawrence Restaurant Scene


    El Sol Mexican Restaurant

    1520 Wakarusa
    Lawrence, KS 66047

    (785) 331-2663

    Price: $$$$$

    Another closed El Mezcal location in a shopping center on the corner of Wakarusa and Bob Billings Parkway (now called “El Sol”), I had read in El Sol’s inaugural review that they were a “Tex-Mex” restaurant. My fellow Elite ’14 member had high praise for their food, service, and ambience, so we had to give them a try. Our experience was once again very average in a town not well town for outstanding cuisine and I found not a single Tex-Mex item on the menu. In fact, when I asked the waiter if they were a Tex-Mex restaurant, he stated “definitely not”.
    As mentioned in recent reviews, I am a Mexican food snob, having grown up in LA where Mexican restaurants outnumber Bentleys and spending three years in San Antonio, Texas during my first Air Force assignment. Not changing my modus operandi,  I stuck with the basics, tacos and enchiladas, during my first visit to see if they can get them right before moving on to more complex dishes.
    Taco and Enchilada Combination Plate

    The restaurant’s decor is very colorful with natural wood tables, bright tones, and reminiscent of  a traditional Mexican cantina. The service was very attentive, friendly, and fast. Our server, Rafael, was extremely polite and amenable to answering my many questions. We ordered the guacamole ($3.99) and the white cheese dip (queso blanco – medium – $2.99). The guacamole was small, made with avocado and SMALL PIECES OF TOMATO, but tasty. The queso blanco was warm and well seasoned, adhering to the pre-fab chips, another disappointment and a dead giveaway of a sub-par restaurant in my experience. I had the 27 ounce margarita (on the rocks – $6.99) which was decent, not very strong, and priced $2 more than El Mezcal. My wife had the horchata, a Mexican rice-based drink which was better than El Mezcal’s various versions.

    Cheese Quesadilla with Guacamole and Pico di Gallo

    My wife ordered the cheese quesadilla, coming with a small dab of guacamole and pico di gallo ($4.99) and a cheese and onion enchilada with queso blanco instead of red sauce (ala carte – $1.99), coming with refried beans. It is difficult to mess-up a quesadilla and El Sol was again no exception. She liked the enchilada, but queso blanco was a bit too spicy for her Itialan tastebuds (the spiciest dish in Italy is penne arribiatta).

    Cheese and Onion Enchilada with Queso Blanco

    I decided to forego the rice and get down to brass tacks, ordering two shredded beef tacos and a cheese and onion enchilada ($8.49) combo plate (all beans). The tacos came in pre-fab corn tortillas and the beef, although skimpy, was well seasoned and topped with a little lettuce, white cheese, and chopped tomato. I saved some of the guacamole for my tacos, borrowed my wife’s pico de gallo, and added their salsa, which was not bad. The tacos were not great. The enchilada sauce was a bit too watery and lacked taste, the enchilada cool, not even lukewarm, another disappointment. True Tex-Mex enchiladas are smothered in chili con carne and topped with cheese, but this bore no resemblance to any Tex-Mex I have eaten and was one of the worst enchiladas I have had.

    Pre-Fab Taco Shells

    Again, not my favorite Mexican restaurant in Lawrence by any stretch and we will likely not return given the distance from our home and the fact that there are at least four better Mexican eateries in closer proximity.






    CombatCritic Gives El Sol 5 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!

    El Sol Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon











    MENU

    Key Words: 66044, burrito, CombatCritic, eat, el, El Sol, el, sol, enchilada, food, guacamole, Kansas, Lawrence, margarita, Mexican, mezcal, restaurant, taco, travel, TravelValue, value

Pueblo … New Name, Same Boring Food


  • Pueblo Mexican Restaurant
  • 804 Lowa St
    Lawrence, KS 66044
  • Phone number(785) 331-2710
  • Business websitepueblomxrestaurant.com

  •  Prices: $$$$$
    Queso Blanco, Guacamole, Chips and Salsa
    We tried the El Mezcal on Iowa Street (now closed and called “Pueblo”) shortly after moving to Lawrence last summer and were not impressed. So when I read the yelp* reviews for the new restaurant, I was a bit surprised that they were so good. In fact, a fellow Elite ’14 member had high praise for their food, service, and margaritas, so I had to give them a try. Our experience was very average, even disappointing. Based on the menu, it looks like El Mezcal simply changed the name to Pueblo, hoping to get more business, but they should have copied the 23rd Street location’s recipes because the food is not as good.

    As mentioned in previous reviews, I am a bit of a Mexican food snob, if there is such a thing, having grown up in LA where Mexican restaurants far outnumber McDonalds. As usual, I stick with the basics the first time I visit a restaurant to see if they can get them right before moving on to more complex dishes.

    Steak Tacos ala Carte – $2.40 each
    We ordered the small guacamole ($3.49) and the highly touted white cheese dip (queso blanco – small – $3.49). The guacamole was small and too dark, made with avocado and SMALL PIECES OF TOMATO. The queso blanco was warm and well seasoned, but way too runny, barely adhering to the store bought chips, another disappointment. I had the 27 ounce margarita (on the rocks – $4.99) which was good, strong, and very reasonably priced, and my wife had the horchata, a Mexican rice-base drink which was better than El Mezcal’s watery version.

    My wife ordered the vegetarian special #1, a cheese quesadilla and cheese and onion enchilada (with queso blanco instead of red sauce – she hates tomatoes – $7.49), coming with refried beans. It is difficult to screw-up a quesadilla and Pueblo was no exception. The enchilada was good, but the beans rather bland, missing that fatty taste traditional refried beans emanate hence the name “refried”.

    Beef Enchiladas ala Carte – $5.49 (3)

    I decided to forego the rice and beans and get down to brass tacks, ordering the  steak tacos ($2.40 each) and beef enchiladas ($5.49) ala carte. The tacos came in flour tortillas and the steak was well seasoned with a little lettuce and plenty of white cheese. I saved some of the guacamole for my tacos, ordered some pico de gallo, and added their salsa, which was pretty good, making up for the lack of tomatoes.


    The beef enchiladas were OK, but the sauce was lacking flavor and a bit too sweet for my taste. I recommend that they flash fry the tortillas before filling them, adding the sauce and some white cheese on top before putting them under the broiler to melt.

    Pueblo was no surprise after the ho-hum experience we had at this Iowa Street location when it was called El Mezcal. The decor is colorful and reminiscent of old Mexico and the service attentive, friendly, and fast. Not my favorite Mexican restaurant in Lawrence by any stretch and we will probably not return.

    CombatCritic Gives Pueblo 5 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!










    Pueblo on Urbanspoon
    Key Words: 66044, burrito, CombatCritic, eat, el, Pueblo, enchilada, food, guacamole, Kansas, Lawrence, margarita, Mexican, mezcal, restaurant, taco, travel, TravelValue, value

El Mezcal: Good Mexican Food, Strong Margaritas, Fair Prices


El Mezcal Mexican Restaurant
1819 W 23rd St 

Lawrence, KS 66046
(785) 832-8775

El Mezcal Website

Prices $$$$$
FREE CHIPS AND SALSA!
We tried the El Mezcal on Iowa Street (now closed) shortly after moving to Lawrence last summer and were not impressed. So when I read the yelp* reviews for the 23rd Street location, e is such a thingI was a bit surprised that they were consistently so good. In fact, a fellow Elite ’14 member, Alicia “Lush” R, had high praise for their food, service, and margaritas, so I had to give them a try.
Small Guacamole

I am admittedly a Mexican food snob, if there is such a thing, having grown up in LA where hispanics seem to outnumber us gringos (PC???) and Mexican restaurants outnumber McDonalds. As usual, I stick with the basics the first time I visit a restaurant to see if they can get them right before moving on to more complex dishes.

Queso Blanco

We ordered the small guacamole ($3.79) and the highly touted white cheese dip (queso blanco – small – $3.79). The guacamole was very good, made with fresh avocado and NO TOMATO, well seasoned and a fair portion for the prices. The queso blanco was also scrummy as advertised, warm and well seasoned, but not too hot as my wife does not like her food too spicy. I had the 27 ounce margarita (on the rocks – $4.99) which was good, strong, and very reasonably priced, and my wife had the horchata, a Mexican rice-base drink which was a bit watery for our taste.

Quesadilla

My wife ordered the vegetarian special #1, a cheese quesadilla and cheese and onion enchilada (with queso blanco instead of red sauce – she hates tomatoes – $7.49), coming with retired beans. It is difficult to screw-up a quesadilla and El Mezcal was no exception. The enchilada was good, but the beans rather bland, missing that fatty taste traditional refried beans emanate hence the name “refried”.

Beef Tacos ala Carte

I decided to forego the rice and beans and get down to brass tacks, ordering the beef tacos ($3.99) and cheese and onion enchiladas ($5.79) ala carte. The tacos came in prefab shells, normally a dead giveaway for bad food, but they were actually pretty good. The ground beef was well seasoned, the shells not too soft, not too crispy, holding up well to the punishment my teeth inflicted, with a little lettuce and plenty of white cheese. Their menu mentions “juicy tomato”, but there were none in my tacos, my only complaint other than the prefab shells. I saved some guacamole for my tacos and added their salsa which was pretty good, making up for the lack of tomatoes.

Cheese and Onion Enchiladas ala Carte

The cheese and onion enchiladas were tasty, but so tough (yes, tough) that I could not cut them with a fork and my knife even had difficulty at times. I like burnt, crispy cookies and brownies, so I actually enjoyed the crunchiness. It was obvious that they had been either broiled or microwaved too long BEFORE adding the enchilada sauce, which was actually very good. My only other recommendations would be to flash fry the tortillas before filling them, adding the sauce and some white cheese on top before putting them under the broiler to melt. There was also about 50% too much sauce, a waste of money considering the fact that I left much of it on my plate.

El Mezcal was a nice surprise after the ho-hum experience we had at the Iowa Street location. The decor is colorful and reminiscent of old Mexico complete with a small fountain and the service attentive, friendly, and fast. Not my favorite Mexican restaurant in Lawrence, but we will return from time to time for the cheap, abundant margaritas if nothing else.


CombatCritic Gives El Mezcal 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!

El Mezcal Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Key Words: El Mezcal. el, mezcal, Mexican, restaurant, food, eat, taco, enchilada, guacamole, margarita, burrito, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Absence Does Not Necessarily Make The Heart Grow Fonda


Amanda’s Fonda
3625 W. Colorado Ave 
Colorado SpringsCO80904


An old haunt, I had to try it again after 6 years in the Midwest … Tacos, enchiladas, you know the drill. 




The shredded beef tacos were OK, little meat or cheese, but what was there tasted good. The cheese and onion enchilada was decent, but the sauce was rather bland. The chips were decent, the salsa very good, but the guacamole was a bit pricey for the size so we steered away from an appetizer.



I remembered the food being better … I guess absence does not necessarily make the heart grow fonder. Ever been back to your high school? Disappointing, small, but you still have fond memories.



CombatCritic Gives Amanda’s Fonda 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!



UPDATE: After my check-in, the manager contacted me and offered a gift card and an invitation to return and give Amanda’s Fonda another try. I will return next time I am in Colorado Springs and will update my review based on that experience. “6 BOMBS” is not a “bad” review, but leaves room for some improvement … SPERIAMO (let’s hope so)!

Amanda's Fonda on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Amanda’s Fonda, Amanda, fonda, Colorado Springs, Colorado, springs, 80904, Mexican, food, taco, enchilada, chips, salsa, guacamole, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue

Mexquisito is Exquisito According to CombatCritico!


Mexquisito

712 Massachusetts Street
LawrenceKS 66044

Phone: (785) 856-8226
Web: Mexquisito

Prices: $$$$$


I recently reviewed Tortas Jalisco, one of my few favorite Mexican restaurants in Lawrence, a sister-establishment of Mexquisito in downtown Lawrence.  Like its sister, Mexquisito is bare-bones in terms of decor and ambiance, but the food more than makes up for the lackluster environment.

Being a Mexican food junkie from SoCal (LA-LA LAND) and used to some of the best Mexican food north of the border, I have high standards. I read about Mexquisito on Yelp where the restaurant seemed to get mostly very positive reviews.  I heard, like several Lawrence Mexican restaurants, that they charge for chips and salsa, something I have never seen in over 50 years of eating at hundreds of Mexican restaurants north and south of the border.  Not a good business practice from my perspective and a fact that may account for the reports of empty tables even on Friday and Saturday nights. When we arrived on Sunday night at 6PM, there were in-fact only two tables occupied by customers compared to 95 to 100 percent occupancy every Sunday night at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Kansas City or at Lawrence’s own El Potro (which serves not only free chips and salsa, but a free bowl of queso blanco as well).

Guacamole, Chips, and Salsas – $5.99

We ordered the guacamole ($5.99 compared to $4.99 at Tortas Jalisco) which came with a basket of chips and salsa (green/spicy and red/mild), bringing the price of the guacamole down to just over $3 after deducting the price of chips and salsa.   The “green” salsa I had heard so much in Yelp reviews was excellent with just enough heat and the “red” was also very good, being more mild than the verde (green) version. 

The guacamole was good, but a little too spicy for my wife’s taste and with too many tomatoes (and corn?) for mine. Tomatoes, much cheaper than avocados, are used by many restaurants as a filler even though traditional guacamole is not normally prepared using tomato (see my recipe below). There could have been much less tomato (no corn) and more guacamole for the price, but it was well seasoned and tasty although the price seems very high at $5.99 for a small cup.

I ordered the house margarita (frozen with salt – SPECIAL – $3.00), coming in a 12 ounce beer mug, a tasty concoction with a tangy lime base and enough tequila to stand out from other Lawrence Mexican restaurants that seem to serve more diluted drinks.  Twelve ounces did not last long so I ordered another margarita with dinner, getting two margaritas for the price of one at other restaurants.  After all, having a teetotaling wife and built-in designated driver is wonderful for a guy who enjoys a little booze with his dinner!



Tacos de Papa with Rice and Beans – $8.99

My wife is Italian, not a big fan of Mexican cuisine, and usually orders a quesadilla, but surprised me when she decided on the Tacos de Papa ($8.99 – mashed potato crispy tacos). An Italian that hates tomatoes, does not cook (thankfully, I am quite a good cook) and does not drink, as I mentioned earlier, she makes a great designated driver. However, trying to find Mexican food WITHOUT TOMATOES is like trying to find a tree in Greenland … good luck! My wife liked the Tacos de Papa even though they were rather bland because she does not like the sour cream that accompanied the dish. Containing mashed potato and white cheese in a crispy corn tortilla, the Tacos de Papa are an excellent choice for those who enjoy a vegetarian option. My wife asked for the tomatoes “on the side”, but the dish came without tomatoes. A small portion of sour cream accompanied the dish, but guacamole or pico de gallo would be have been a nice addition to the rather bland potato tacos.

I normally order the staples, tacos and enchiladas, when trying a new Mexican restaurant because if they cannot get those dishes right, there is little chance the rest of the food will be worth trying. Store-bought chips and pre-fab tacos shells are always a dead give away for mediocre food and Mexquisito came trough with flying colors!  

Tacos ala Carte – $1.79 each

The tacos ($1.79 each ala carte) are excellent, with the shells fried in-house, they were tasty, the shells thick, and the tacos withstood several bites without falling apart, beating out most Lawrence Mexican restaurants so far in my culinary journey (Fuzzy’s Tacos and El Potro being the only exceptions). 

Enchiladas Poblanos with Rice, and Beans – $9.99

Cheese and onion enchiladas in red sauce are not on the menu (available upon request), but the Enchiladas Poblanos ($9.99) with shredded beef were scrummy with just the right amount of filling covered with a homemade white Poblano sauce that was one of the best I have tasted. A small scoop of guacamole and some rather nondescript rice and beans accompanied the meal, adding little value or flavor.


Mexquisito’s interior is quite basic, yet clean, and the service excellent with Jose (our server and the owner) being very friendly, helpful, and attentive even though he appeared to be doing everything himself (we saw no other workers in the hour we were there). The chips, thick, crunchy, and also made in-house, were excellent with just the right amount of salt.  I would recommend that the owners consider providing free chips and salsa like the vast majority of Mexican restaurants, silencing their few critics.  As far as I can see, having to pay for chips is the only flaw Mexquisito has, but as I said, ordering an appetizer solves that dilemma quite easily.


CombatCritic gives Mexquisito 7 out of 10 Bombs … Bombs are good!



CombatCritic’s “Gnarly Guacamole” Recipe:



4 Ripe (dark and soft, not too soft, to the touch) Avocados

1 Tablespoon Diced Garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/8 Cup Fresh Chopped Cilantro (or 1 tablespoon dried cilantro)


Remove the avocados from their skin by cutting them in half, removing the seed, and scraping the contents into a large bowl with a tablespoon.  Smash the avocados with a mashed potato masher until all large chunks are well smooshed.  Add the garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cilantro to the bowl and stir well, ensuring all ingredients are thoroughly distributed (the lime will keep the avocado from turning black too quickly from oxidation – lemon juice can be substituted depending on your taste).



Serve with fresh baked chips (cut corn tortillas in half, distribute evenly across a baking sheet, spray with Pam or other cooking spray, coat with salt, and bake at 325 for 20 to 15 minutes – until brown and crispy) and salsa or pico de gallo.


Mexquisito on Urbanspoon


Key Words: Mexquisito, Mexican, food, restaurant, taco, tacos, enchilada, enchiladas, rice, beans, guacamole, salsa, eat, tasty, delicious, CombatCritic, recipe, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044

La Familia … Mediocre Mexican Food and Watered Down Margaritas


La Familia … Mediocre Mexican Food and Watered Down Margaritas

La Familia Cafe and Cantina
733 New Hampshire St
LawrenceKS 66044
(785) 749-0105

Prices: $$$$$

La Familia is a small restaurant with friendly service and decent food. Being a Mexican food junkie from SoCal and used to some of the best Mexican food north of the border, I have high standards. La Familia failed to meet those standards, at least on our first visit.

I ordered the large guacamole, trusting the server when she said it would be “just right” for two … it was enough for four and at $7+ not a total bargain. It was tasty even though we ended uo taking half of it home.  I also tried the margaritas, an impressive 16 ounces for $5 but lacking ANY noticeable alcohol content (isn’t that the whole idea?). 

My wife is Italian and not a big fan of Mexican cuisine, so she usually orders a quesadilla and did not surprise me here. An Italian that hates tomatoes, does not cook (thankfully, I am quite a good cook) and does not drink wine, she makes a great designated driver. Trying to find Mexican food WITHOUT TOMATOES is like trying to find a beach in Greenland … Good luck! The quesadilla was stuffed with tasty sauteed mushrooms, but little, if any, cheese. The name “quesadilla” comes.from the word “queso”, meaning cheese, so you would expect cheese. There was none that we could find, but my wife liked it nonetheless. 

I always order the staples, tacos and enchiladas, when trying a new Mexican restaurant because if they cannot get those right, there is little chance the rest of the food will be with trying. Store-bought chips and pre-fab tacos shells are another dead give away and La Familia did again disappoint, although the tacos were tasty and the shells the large variety, beating out any Mexican restaurant in Lawrence so far (Fuzzy’s Tacos being the exception), but that is not saying much. The cheese and onion enchilada was nothing special. Finally, the “sweet” salsa I had heard so much about was awful, but thankfully they have two other savory and spicy options. 

In all, when a bunch of gringos run a Mexican restaurant, you cannot expect authentic recipes and that was the case at La Familia. We will return and give them another chance only because they are so convenient and my wife liked the chesseless quesadilla. Asta la vista baby!

La Familia gets 5 Out of 10 Bombs … Bombs Are Good!



la Familia Cafe And Cantina on Urbanspoon

Key Words: La, Familia, Mexican, restaurant, food, eat, taco, enchilada, burrito, salsa, sweet, guacamole, mediocre, margarita, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic

Finally … Delicious Mexican Food in Lawrence and Reasonable Prices Too!


Tortas Jalisco
534 Frontier Rd
LawrenceKS 66049
(785) 865-1515
Prices: $$$$$

Being a Mexican food junkie from SoCal (LA-LA LAND) and used to some of the best Mexican food north of the border, I have high standards. I read about Tortas Jalisco on Yelp where the restaurant seemed to get mostly very positive reviews.  I hesitated going there only because I heard they charge $2.69 for chips and salsa, something I have never seen in over 50 years of eating at hundreds of Mexican restaurants north and south of the border.  Not a good business practice from my perspective and a fact that may account for the reports of empty tables even on Friday and Saturday nights.  When we arrived on Sunday night at 6PM, there were in-fact only two tables occupied by customers compared to 95 to 100 percent occupancy every Sunday night at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Kansas City.

We ordered the queso blanco (white cheese dip – $4.99) and guacamole (also $4.99), both coming with a basket of chips and salsa (green/spicy and red/mild), bringing the price of each appetizer down to $2.30 each after deducting the price of chips and salsa.  The queso blanco was not very thick and barely attached itself to the chips when dipped, but very tasty nonetheless.  The guacamole was also good, but too spicy for my wife’s taste and with too many tomatoes for mine.  Tomatoes are much cheaper than avocados, so many restaurants use them as a filler even though traditional guacamole is not normally prepared using tomato (see my recipe below).  Their could have been less tomato and more guacamole for the price, but it was well seasoned and delicious from my vantage point.

I ordered the house margarita (frozen with salt – $4.50), coming in a 12 ounce beer mug, a tasty concoction with a tangy lime base and enough tequila to stand out from other Lawrence Mexican restaurants that seem to serve more diluted drinks.  Twelve ounces did not last long so I ordered the “signature” margarita with dinner, coming in a pint size glass on-the-rocks with premium tequila and a splash of Grand Marnie liquor (with salt – $6), well worth the additional $1.50 compared to the house variety and quite delicious.

My wife is Italian and not a big fan of Mexican cuisine, so she usually orders a quesadilla and did not surprise me here. An Italian that hates tomatoes, does not cook (thankfully, I am quite a good cook) and does not drink wine, she makes a great designated driver. Trying to find Mexican food WITHOUT TOMATOES is like trying to find a beach in Greenland … good luck! The quesadilla was stuffed with tasty cheese and came with a side of guacamole nearly the size of the $4.99 appetizer ($.99 on the menu). After all, the name “quesadilla” comes from the word “queso”, meaning cheese, and my wife liked it even though it was bland because she does not like the sour cream that accompanied the dish or the accompanying guacamole (which was too spicy for her taste).

Torta Cuban

The name “Tortas Jalisco” literally means “London cakes”, but Mexican tortas are actually Mexican sandwiches. The torta Cuban, one of nine sandwich selections (right – $6.00 – see menu below), comes with a pork cutlet, ham. cheese, adobo sauce, lettuce and tomato, and is served with a small side of guacamole. The bread was fresh and lightly toasted and the torta was good, but not even close to some of the best Cuban sandwiches I have had (arguably at Cuban restaurants), lacking a bread with the flavor and consistency of a true Cuban sandwich. A side of French fries would be a welcome addition to help round-out the dish.


Crispy Beef Tacos ala Carte ($1.79 each)

I always order the staples, tacos and enchiladas, when trying a new Mexican restaurant because if they cannot get those dishes right, there is little chance the rest of the food will be worth trying. Store-bought chips and pre-fab tacos shells are always a dead give away for mediocre food and Tortas Jalisco came trough with flying colors!  The taco shells are fried in-house, were very tasty, and the shells thick, the tacos withstanding several bites without falling apart and beating out any Mexican restaurant in Lawrence so far in my culinary journey (Fuzzy’s Tacos being the only possible exception). The cheese and onion enchiladas were scrummy with just the right amount of filling covered with a homemade red sauce that was one of the best I have tasted in recent memory.  Finally, the “green” salsa I had heard so much in Yelp reviews was excellent with just enough heat and the “red” was also very good, being more mild than the verde (green) version. 


Cheese and Onion Enchiladas Dinner

In all, the interior is quite basic, yet clean, and the service was a bit slow as I had heard from several Yelp reviewers, but Carlos (our server) was very friendly and helpful, and attentive even though he appeared to be doing everything himself (we saw no other workers in the hour we were there). The chips, thick, crunchy, and also made in-house, were excellent with just the right amount of salt.  I would recommend that the owners consider providing free chips and salsa like the vast majority of Mexican restaurants, silencing their primary critics, and raise the price of their relatively inexpensive dishes by thirty to forty cents each to make up the difference.  As far as I can see, having to pay for chips is the only flaw Tortas Jalisco has, but as I said, ordering an appetizer solves that dilemma quite easily.


CombatCritic gives Tortas Jalisco 7 out of 10 Bombs … Bombs are good!






CombatCritic’s “Gnarly Guacamole” Recipe:


4 Ripe (dark and soft, not too soft, to the touch) Avocados
1 Tablespoon Diced Garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/8 Cup Fresh Chopped Cilantro (or 1 tablespoon dried cilantro)

Remove the avocados from their skin by cutting them in half, removing the seed, and scraping the contents into a large bowl with a tablespoon.  Smash the avocados with a mashed potato masher until all large chunks are well smooshed.  Add the garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cilantro to the bowl and stir well, ensuring all ingredients are thoroughly distributed (the lime will keep the avocado from turning black too quickly from oxidation – lemon juice can be substituted depending on your taste).

Serve with fresh baked chips (cut corn tortillas in half, distribute evenly across a baking sheet, spray with Pam or other cooking spray, coat with salt, and bake at 325 for 20 to 15 minutes – until brown and crispy) and salsa or pico de gallo.


Asta la vista baby!

Tortas Jalisco on Urbanspoon




Key Words: Tortas, Jalisco, Mexican, food, restaurant, taco, tacos, enchilada, enchiladas, rice, beans, guacamole, salsa, eat, tasty, delicious, CombatCritic, recipe, gnarly, bombs, Lawrence, Kansas