The Soto family, who own the popular Cebolla's and Don Chavas restaurants in Fort Wayne, recently opened a new restaurant northeast.
Mexico Antiguo Restaurante, 2787 Maplecrest Road, is where Blu City Tavern used to be. Before that, it was Blu Tomato, Banana's Steak House and Ernie's Steak House. The interior has undergone changes with furniture and decorations to evoke old Mexico. And if I'm translating correctly, “Mexico antiguo translates to “old Mexico.” Out in front are two metal horse sculptures hitched up to wagons.
On a recent weekday, my friend and I arrived about 1 p.m., just as the lunch crowd was leaving. We were seated in a booth. Our table had a picture of guys in sombreros on horses. All the tables had “old Mexico” images covered by a thick shiny lacquer. The chairs at the tables looked like they were made of heavy wood. Unlike some Mexican restaurants that are a riot of colors, this one is more subdued.
The music wasn't, however. Lively Mexican music played over an intercom, but it wasn't so loud you couldn't talk.
We started with three appetizers: chips and salsa, of course, which are gratis, and we also ordered guacamole and queso.
Interestingly, when our server brought the salsa to the table and I asked if there was hotter salsa, she said what she had served us was the hot salsa, but offered some milder, which I jumped at, because, as we all know, I don't like hot stuff.
I will say the hot salsa – the kind she served first – was not that hot, even by my wimpy standards. But the mild salsa was exactly as I like it. Fresh, flavorful, with lots of cilantro and little to no heat.
The guacamole had bits of tomato, cilantro, green chilies and a little too much onion for my taste.
The queso was creamy and mildly spicy. I asked our server what was in it – she said milk, Land O' Lakes cheese and jalapenos, which must have been finely ground and used sparingly. The chips were average.
I ordered a chicken fajita lunch, which came with beans and rice, three flour soft tortilla shells, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo and a sizzling skillet with marinated chicken breast, sauteed onions, green peppers and tomatoes.
The chicken was nicely seasoned and tender. As is usually the case with fajitas, I had at least twice as much filling as I had shells, and I was full after eating three. I barely touched the rice and didn't even eat the beans. I'm really kind of tired of refried beans as a side at Mexican restaurants.
The nice thing was, with all that food left over, I was offered a take-home box, of course, and three more tortillas. I also got two containers for the queso and salsa, and took the whole thing home. So the food didn't go to waste and was just as good reheated. I ate everything except some of the green peppers – there were just too many to go with the rest of the food.
My friend ordered a grilled shrimp salad which was served in a crispy shell that looked sort of like a giant flat-bottomed taco shell. It was stuffed with sauteed shrimp (she counted 10), onions, bell peppers and tomato, and covered with lettuce, cheese, sour cream and tomato. The salad is served with a choice of dressings, but she didn't use hers – there was enough flavor from the sauteed shrimp and vegetables.
A flip card at the table showcased Mexico Antiguo's desserts, so we had to try some. My friend tried the flan, or custard, which she enjoyed. I opted for cheese cake chimichanga, and, yes, that's deep-fried cheesecake. The coating was a cinnamon-sugar mix. One order was two slices drizzled with caramel and chocolate, a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry.
I figured it would be hot, having just been deep-fried, but it was more like room temperature. Our server assured me it had indeed just been deep-fried. Apparently the cold cheesecake causes the topping to cool quickly. It was … interesting. Probably not something I'd order again.
Overall we were impressed with the food and service at Mexico Antiguo. I would say the Soto family has successfully launched another addition to their growing number of restaurants.
Every other Tuesday, Cindy Larson describes a one-time dining experience at an area restaurant. The News-Sentinel pays for meals. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. You can reach her at 461-8284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To read other columns, go to http://www.news-sentinel.com/section/LARSON.