FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Arcos Restaurante Mexicano
Who likes Mexican food?
Who likes margaritas?
Maybe a better question is, who doesn’t?
Fortunately, there are plenty of options in and around Fort Wayne to dine on fajitas and enchiladas and suck down a frozen drink the size of your head.
We visited Arcos Restaurante Mexicano at 2868 East Dupont Road to see if the newest establishment in a crowded local Mexican food scene has what it takes to stand out.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: WALKING IN
Those familiar with the area know Arcos’ location as the old Bandidos off East Dupont and if you are familiar, you know that the parking lot doesn’t lend itself well to the restaurant’s corner location. At lunchtime, you will probably find a spot easy. If we are talking dinner rush on a Saturday, you could have a walk on your hands to even get to the official walk in.
One of the first things we noticed walking in is how spacious that Arcos is compared to a lot of the city’s Mexican eateries. The spacing wasn’t cramped at all.
Arcos definitely looks the part once you make it inside, with arches and stucco-like walls giving the feel of Mexico right as you enter.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: ATMOSPHERE
Arcos has a giant rooster statue that stands about three foot tall. Seriously, there could be plastic, see-through walls and dirty tableware and the giant rooster would still make the atmosphere top notch.
So, if you’re a restaurant or bar looking to impress us, install a giant fake animal of some kind. We are easily entertained.
There are not wall-to-wall decorations, instead, the variety of paintings and sculptures is tastefully sparse and spread out. The lack of overwhelming decor is a welcome change. As is the separation of tables. You sure aren’t squished in to the table next to you, so there is plenty of room to stretch or even for your kids to get up and play a little without it being at someone else’s table.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: FOOD
We started off by ordering something neither of us could pronounce — choriqueso dip. We weren’t sure at first with the spicy sausage mixed in with cheese, but we warmed up to it. In fact, it proved to be so good we continued to eat it when our main course came.
Not knowing how much we’d be filling up on our dip choice, we also gave the Sopa Azteca a go off the “salad and soups” menu that, in fact, consisted of just this one soup. Their homemade soup tasted like just that — homemade. Consider this like a Mexican vegetable soup with chicken. It also contained fried tortilla strips and avocado chunks that virtually melted in your mouth when combined with the heat of the soup.
One of the centerpieces of the menu has to be the Fort Wayne Special. Ironically, that is the name of the fair city that Arcos resides in. Weird! The Fort Wayne Special includes a tamale, a pair of chicken flautas and some loaded nachos. The chicken in the flautas was tender and flavorful, while the tamale was bursting at the seams with internal goodies.
Fajitas are a staple of most Hispanic eateries and Arcos does a good job with them, but that doesn’t mean they are unique in any way. The flavor of the shrimp is great, although the seafood taste sometimes comes off way too strong. The only real complaint came in the way of the Fajitas Tropical. The balance of the chicken versus shrimp and onions versus grilled pineapple was off in both cases and left them more like a regular chicken fajita than something we would consider “tropical” in any way.
What we wanted when we tried out Arcos was something different than the dime-a-dozen Mexican restaurants. The most standout-looking thing pictured in the menu is the Molcajete el Arcos, which is a giant charcoal-like bowl filled with grilled chicken, steak and shrimp as well as green peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomato sauce and melted cheese. The unique concoction is to be added to tortillas, much like the fajitas. The flavors in this thing meld like crazy and is an overwhelming sensation to the taste buds. In this area where Arcos has the ability to separate itself, they succeed.
The menu is massive, with several pages of options and sizable children’s menu.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: DRINKS
Margaritas, margaritas, margaritas. This is a Mexican restaurant, correct?
Arcos offers a wide selection of flavors for margaritas, from lime to strawberry, banana to raspberry. Our plan to see how banana mixed as a margarita was ruined with the flavor out of stock. Instead, we went to the raspberry and strawberry options. We couldn’t decide whether the margaritas were weak or so good that you could scarcely taste the alcohol. It quickly became apparent that the latter was correct.
Beer more your scene? Arcos has over 20 domestic and imported bottled beers available, as well as six beers on tap. Wine by the glass is also available.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: SERVICE
Despite being pretty busy when we visited, Arcos took good care of us with no less than four different people checking up on us and how we were doing. It does seem to be a mission to get the customer what they want as soon as they can, an underappreciated part of restaurant service.
The food itself came out quick with a wait time of no more than 10 minutes. It almost took us aback how quickly that we were served our appetizer, let alone how quickly the actual meal came out.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: PRICE
Pricing at Arcos is essentially on par with most of the city’s Mexican food establishments, maybe even a little cheaper for what we would consider being hefty portions. If there is any sticker shock involved, it would be that you get so much food at modest prices.
Appetizers are pretty reasonable, with dips priced between $3.50 and $5.25. They also have a variety of nacho appetizers that stay below $6, unless you are all in on the $10.99 nachos fajitas.
The fajitas are a star of their menu, running you between $12.75 and $25.99.
All of the beer options stay at $4.50 and below unless you tack on a pitcher. The margarita menu will run you between $4.50 and $8.25.
First Impressions is a new monthly restaurant feature. You can catch Dan and Justin’s opinions on new or recent area eateries each month, rotating on a bi-weekly basis with our Pub Crawl feature. Have a suggestion on where to stop next? Let them known at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com