Post # 48 Tasty Mexican Food

September 19, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 48 Tasty Mexican Food

I grew up in Arizona, near the border with Mexico.  Mexican food runs in my veins.  I never dreamed of going to a fast food mexican place until I had left Arizona and needed to feed my mexican food fix.  When I arrived in the DC area, one of the first questions I asked was where are any good Mexican restaurants.  Silly me, I thought they would understand what I meant by “good.”

I was directed to a restaurant several miles up the road I was living on to a place called Chi-Chi’s.  I was told it was good, so I invited a friend along with me who had grown up in Corpus Christi.  When I told her the name of the place she looked blank for a moment, then asked, “Why would they name a restaurant that?”  Turned out that while it was passable, it wasn’t what I considered “good.”  I went back several years later with my in-laws, who loved the place, and it was the same.   They liked it, I didn’t.

Then, my sister-in-law took me to a hole in the wall place called Los Tres Amigos.  It was Tex-Mex and actually had some flavor to it!  We went back once during the two and half decades I lived in the area.  I don’t know why I never made it my go-to place.  While I lived in Manassas, another friend suggested a chain restaurant for Mexican food that was decent.  Since it was just a couple of blocks from my house, I went there regularly.  The biggest thing they had going for them was great portion size and fresh made tortillas.  They made their corn chips from the tortillas so the chips and salsa were great.  Nachos not so much.

I moved to North Carolina for a short time and continued my search for good Mexican food.  The chain that I knew in Manassas was there, as well, so when the urge got to be too bad and no one felt like cooking, we could go there.  Then we bumped into a restaurant in the parking lot of one of our favorite stores and finally got good flavor Mexican food in North Carolina!  We went there a couple of times before we had to leave.

So now here we are, in the Great Plains and the first thing we decide to do is find a good Mexican restaurant.  There’s a fast food chain here called Taco Bueno.  Oddly enough, for a fast food chain, it serves really delicious Mexican food.  Lots of it, too.

However, our go-to now is a great place called Chelinos.  It’s a local chain, with about half a dozen stores around the area.  We first discovered the place on our first trip here when we were looking for a house.  There was a Mexican restaurant next to our hotel and we asked our real estate agent about it.  He said the best place was just down the road from our hotel so we went there.  Chelinos restaurants are smaller places, but they’re always busy.  At least, they are when we’re there.  They use all the correct spices and chiles and the portions are generous.

The first time we were there, partner/spouse got Chile Rellenos, the standard order to check out a Mexican restaurant.  I usually get either tacos or a quesadilla for my first order.  If they can screw up something as simple as cheese grilled in a flour tortilla, they will screw up everything.  But I noticed they had something that I hadn’t had since I was a kid.  At home in Arizona, we called it Mexican Stew (see recipe at right) but at the restaurant they called it something else beginning with a G and seemingly named after someone.  I ordered that.  It came with rice and beans and warm flour tortillas.  It was wonderfully, bitingly spicy and I ate as much as I could.

The meal starts with fresh made tortilla chips, and a bowl of fresh salsa for each person at the table (no sharing!) and a bowl of queso dip for each person at the table (again, no sharing!)  The salsa was fresh, chilled, flavorful, some of the best I’ve ever had, excluding my own.  The queso dip was a wonderfully flavorful melted cheese with onions.  I ended up spreading a spoonful of salsa and a spoonful of queso dip on a flour tortilla and making my own quesadilla (sort of.)  Then the main entree is brought on giant hot plates that are filled!  No way can one person eat an entire plateful, although the father-in-law does.  But I think that’s mostly a generational thing.  Clean plate and all.

They also do a bustling take out service.  We’ve done that many times.  And every time, whether it’s eat in or take out, they give more than their fair share of tortilla chips with salsa and queso dip.  Good stuff!

Enjoy!

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