Northern Mexican

2009.Jan.19 Monday · 2 comments

in Life, Restaurants

“In the event of fire or earthquake, please wake your waiter.

– one of many signs tacked to the wall in this restaurant…

Vicente Lopez – Finishing up on the other day’s post on my walkabout in this northern suburb, as I mentioned, I was in search of a chivitería that my Brazilian cooking instructor had recommended. Didn’t find it, though I did find the disconcerting Ronald Gym Club…

Ronald Gym Club in Vicente Lopez

…and yes, it’s above an active McDonald’s.

But then I spotted one of the three locations of María Félix, at Libertador 2701, in the Olivos area, and thought, well, I’d not been to one of them yet, and Mexican food is a favorite, and I couldn’t remember if anyone had recommended them or dissed them, so why not? Better I’d have continued on to the port area and plopped myself down at one of the open air parrillas.

Maria Felix, Olivos

So, the room is sort of kitschy cute. Too many signs like the one noted above (all in Spanish), and evokes the sort of Tex-Mex restaurant I’d expect to find in “the heartlands” of the U.S. I didn’t know until just now looking at their website that they’re the owners of El Salto de las Ranas – I’d been told that place was owned by the owners of the neighboring parrilla – though now things are making sense in terms of what I found… which is, the food just simply isn’t particularly authentic. It’s a vague approximation, but like I said in the former review, it’s like it’s cooked by someone who doesn’t quite know the food.

Maria Felix, Olivos

A basket of stale chips hit the table moments after I sat, along with the menu, and a watery tomato sauce that might have passed somewhere near to a chili at some point on its journey. My waiter, contrary to the sign, was awake, alert, and attentive, though knew very little about any dish on the menu. I asked if there was any kind of hot sauce around and he offered to bring some, and while he did, he didn’t show up with it (and it wasn’t hot) until the main course. I wanted to try their guacamole, and a taco, and a chicken mole, he opined that it was too much food, and offered to bring, at no charge, a bowl of guacamole to try – quite nice of him. The guacamole was also the highlight of the meal – fresh, tangy, creamy, and absolutely delicious.

Maria Felix, Olivos

The shrimp taco, on the other hand, arrived as a sort of deep-fried springroll of drippingly oily dough atop wilting shreds of lettuce, and itself topped with dried out shreds of tasteless cheese. Inside, while it was packed with a good amount of shrimp, there was nothing else in there, and it was also completely unseasoned, not even salt. Thankfully, I hadn’t finished the guacamole with the stale chips since I didn’t really want to eat the latter, and I ended up spooning it all over the taco.

Maria Felix, Olivos

The chicken mole worried me from the start. I love various types of moles, and the fact that this one didn’t specify what type it was, nor did the waiter have a clue, was a concern. A valid one as it turned out. The sauce resembled some types of mole only in that it was brown and contained chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Sweet chocolate. Opened up a can of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup sweet (okay, minor exageration). No heat, little in the way of seasoning – some sort of bitter note in the background. And the chicken underneath it was the consistency of chalk it was so dried out. I managed about three bites and then gave up and pushed it away. The waiter whisked it from my sight with a “told you it was a lot of food”, without waiting for a response.

Oh, the “hot sauce” – two ramekins brought to the table with the main course – one of them contained chopped onions that had been marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar, as best I could tell; the other, seemed to be from a jar of sweet pickled peppers, onions and carrots. Both perfectly edible, neither containing anything resembling picante.

I asked for the check, and to his credit, rather than charge me for a la carte prices on the two dishes, iced tea, bottled water (not to mention the already freely offered guacamole), which would have added up to about 65 pesos, he charged me for the menu ejecutivo, or daily businessman’s lunch special, a flat 40 pesos all inclusive.

So, hmm… I recommend stopping by for a beer and a full plate of the guacamole, and hoping that the chips aren’t stale that day… other than that, been there, done that.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

MiketheWaiter January 21, 2009 at 13:52

well, to the waiter’s credit … he gave you a good value… and by the way…. your photography is very nice.
mTw

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