Saturday, June 5, 2010
Las Delicias Mexican Bar and Grill
This past Friday night, Neel and I went with a few friends to Las Delicias. This was actually our second time to go in the past few weeks. The time before, we went with a few friends as well, only on a Tuesday night.
Rating Mexican restaurants is always somewhat of a challenge. Most of the time, Mexican restaurants all blend together in what they serve and in the quality of their food and in their atmosphere. Been to one, you've probably been to them all. All serve fajitas and enchiladas and other standard fare. And all have that team picture of the staff in a local soccer league. I always enjoy the pics. I would classify Las Delicias as a pretty typical Mexican restaurant in terms of selection and atmosphere, etc. But once placed in that category, Las Delicias excels in almost every way. Let me explain.
In terms of atmosphere, Las Delecias is nothing too special and rather standard for a Mexican restaurant. I will give a shout out to the lounge-like chairs with red upholstery. When we went Tuesday night, it was busy but we sat immediately. When we went Friday night, there was a pretty long line; so go early if you want to eat immediately. Another atmosphere factor is that all of East Memphis was eating when we were. Neel knew half the restaurant. Who knew Las Delicias was the place to see and be seen?
On to the food. Both times, Neel and I got the guacamole appetizer and it was great. You can definitely tell it was home made and it had huge chunks of avocado. The only guacamole I've had better in Memphis is at Las Tortugas (more about that later). Of course, they give you free chips and salsa too. The salsa is nothing to write home about. A bit to watery for my taste. But the chips compensate for that a bit. I think Neel told me that their chips are all homemade and I believe it. You can taste the freshness.
As an entree, both times I got the chicken burrito. I think it's pretty good and I'm not a huge burrito guy. Half of the burrito is open and they melt cheese over the chicken. They do a really good job of seasoning the chicken though and I think that's what sets it apart and makes it so tasty. Neel got the Alambre (see picture below). Basically, this is their version of fajitas. They really don't have standard fajitas. Instead, the Alambre is basically steak and some veggies with seasoning and melted cheese grilled up and thrown together. Then they give you tortillas on the side. I tasted it and it was pretty good. Neel enjoyed it as well. Once again, I think their ability to season the meat so well with the combination of the melted cheese made it good. Both times we went, all our friends enjoyed their food too. No complaints from anyone. Of course, it's important to remember, it's still Mexican food. Thus, it is rather heavy and greasy. But for what it is, the food comes through on the high quality side. As for drinks, Neel and I got the frozen margaritas. They were quite enjoyable. Of course, it's hard to make a bad frozen margarita.
During our visit on that Tuesday night, the service was good but nothing spectacular. Our Friday night trip was much more of a struggle. It took us a long time to get forks, knives, etc. And it was impossible to flag down our waitress. Not that it was her fault too much. The place was so busy, you could tell our waitress was swamped. But still, it's never a good sign when I have to go to the cashier and ask for silverware before we could start eating. Nevertheless, no one minded too much since we were munching on our salsa and guacamole.
So overall, the food and drinks were very good and everything else about average or above average. But here is where Las Delicias comes through big time: the price. It really is a great bargain. Appetizer + 2 drinks + 2 entrees + tax & tip = all less than $40. I think that is a great deal. In terms of bang for your buck, Las Delicias might be one of the best bargains in Memphis. And of course, as the one paying check, that is a huge factor for me. It also makes it much easier to go to Las Delicias on a regular basis. Therefore, in light of the food and the great price, I give Las Delicias 3.5 stars.
In light of that rating, allow me to add a brief addendum. I think it might be helpful to compare Las Delicias with my favorite Mexican Restaurant in Memphis, Las Tortugas. The comparison is helpful because they are really two totally different restaurants. Las Tortugas is like no other Mexican restaurant I've ever been to. Everything super fresh and very light. It tastes healthy and homemade and delicious. Of course, Las Tortugas doesn't have many of the things you expect at a Mexican restaurant: no melted cheese over dishes, no grease, no margaritas, etc. Instead, it focuses on fish and lighter fare. It is also much more expensive than a standard Mexican restaurant. In contrast, I would classify Las Delicias as more of a "typical" or "standard" Mexican restaurant but just better in what it does. Las Tortugas almost deserves a category of its own because of its focus on light, healthy, authentic dishes. For that reason, it's hard to say which restaurant is better. It really depends on what mood you're in. No doubt, the food is better at Las Tortugas but it is also different. If you're in the mood for "typical" mexican though, Las Delicias might be a better choice, especially in light of the much more manageable prices at Las Delicias.