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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Eating Out: Mexican Style

I don't like Mexican. And no, this is not meant to be a pun based on the fact that I divorced a Mexican, though... there is that too. No, I'm talking Mexican food. It all started when I was a child and, like my six-year-old, I would eat the contents of a taco, but if you placed it on a tortilla, I wouldn't touch the thing. Then, there was that couple of years back in Erie when my mom worked at Taco Bell and brought us home soft tacos as snacks on a too-consistent basis. I cannot eat them too this day. But mostly, I don't enjoy the grease of it. I don't enjoy the bland mix of cornflour, meat, cheese, and tomato. And I certainly don't like when they add that blasted hot salsa to things.

I will admit that I do enjoy a good margarita.

So you can imagine my surprise when Art and I went to the mexican restaurant Los Habaneros, located on Van Aken north of the Warrensville/Northfield/Van Aken/Chagrin intersection next to the Fresh Market and I actually liked... scratch that... loved the food.

We walked in and the friendly waiter (he called us his amigos) took us to a table. It was 2 dollar margarita day but we managed to resist it. I order water. Art, the cola, and the waiter brought us some corn chips and salsa to snack on. The salsa was a medium. I would have preferred mild but I didn't mind the bite of it too much. Art really loved the salsa.

Then the waiter came back to take our orders, but we had to ask for more time to decide, because there was so much that looked good. Art had a hard time choosing between the enchilada platter and the steak tacos. I was having a unique restaurant quandary for me, in that, I had several vegetarian options to choose from, but after much debate, I decided on the veggie fajita, because I was in a zucchini mood. Art went enchilada. And before we had time to finish the chips, our plates were in front of us. I can't comment to much on Art's plate, though I did try the cheese enchilada and it was quite tasty.

For my part, the only issue I might gripe about was that all the carbs were made with white flour. But the mexican rice was flavorful with a little bit of pea in it. The refried beans had a light layer of cheese on it, and the veggies... well... they were perfectly cooked. Not too soggy, not too crisp. There was a giant heap on one side of the plate filled with zucchini, summer squash, big slices of mushroom, tomato, bell pepper, and onion. As I've mentioned before, I don't enjoy onion, but it was so mild, I didn't mind it, though I did give a lot of the onion slices to Art, as he loves his onion. With the veggie platter came three warm fajita sheets wrapped in tin foil. I filled two of the fajitas with a light coat of beans and rice before heaping on the veggies and eat them with contented slurps.

It was the best Mexican food I'd ever had in my life. And I've been to my fair share of "authentic mexican" places, a current craze in Toledo. Usually, the only thing on the menu I can eat, though, is a veggie soft taco: soft shell, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, and tomato.... sarcastic yum. Here though, there was a cornucopia of vegetables, well prepared and waiting to be eaten.

We both agreed to return again. Art still means to try the steak tacos. I aim for the spinach enchiladas. And as the waiter told us "adios amigos," we, overstuffed but happy, exited the restaurant, leftovers in hand.

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