Mexican restaurant has only good surprises
There is no way one should discount consistency.
Nothing is better than a great surprise when dining out : a dish that blew away your expectations or a daily special that just happened to be one of your favorites.
But when it comes to Los Cabos on Coldwater Road just north of Dupont Road, it is the consistency that has made it survive and thrive in a little strip mall spot that has seen its share of restaurants come and go.
Is Los Cabos changing the game when it comes to Mexican fare? No. Its offerings are not unlike so many others in the Summit City.
Is it the dazzling decor? No. It is a very attractive place that is warm and welcoming, but there are some much fancier Mexican eateries.
There are bigger places with fancier digs and bigger menus, but everything on Los Cabos’ menu is made well and the service there could not be any better. You feel like a regular even if you haven’tstepped foot in the door for months.
And those are the reasons it has so many regulars.
Your first taste should be of the fresh-made guacamole. Los Cabos was ahead of the game a bit by making it at the table when the restaurant opened a decade ago, and the folks there still do it impeccably.
Want more tomatoes? No problem. Jalapeños on the side in case someone doesn’t like the heat? Again, no problem.
The salsa at Los Cabos, oddly enough, was not so consistent as it had quite a bit of heat during one visit while being very mild the next. But it was fresh and delicious each time.
Another great appetizer was the Queso Ranchero, which was pretty much a meal in itself. A sizzling fajitas plate was covered with mozzarella that melted into a gooey pool, covered with chorizo, grilled onions, green peppers and tomatoes, along with steak, chicken or shrimp.
It was served with tortillas that I used to make some yummy cheesy tacos, but slathering it on the light, crispy chips was even better. I let mine sit awhile so the cheese got scorched and brown and loved how the zesty chorizo and salty cheese played well with one another. The chicken was a tad dry, but that was barely a flaw.
The chicken in my double fajitas were much juicier, and though this sizzling platter was said to be for two, it could have probably fed four.
My favorite entrée was the Burrito Grande, which had stewed shredded beef and ground beef in a big flour tortilla, along with cooked peppers, onions and tomatoes. It was topped with creamy white cheese sauce and red sauce, lettuce, tomato slices, avocados and shredded cheese.
I was torn between it and the Burrito Chile Verde with its tangy green sauce, so I asked if I could have my Grande made Christmas-style (half red and half green sauce) and was, of course, granted that wish. It had plenty of beef : I loved the shredded, which was cooked in red sauce for extra tomato flavor : and so much cheese sauce I needed more chips to scrape it all up from the plate.
My Chiles Poblano had a much different red sauce that also worked. The mozzarella-stuffed peppers were surprisingly mild and were nicely egg-battered and fried. The sauce had a distinct raw tomato flavor that worked with the peppers’ punch, and there were also cooked onions in the sauce to add just a touch of sweetness to balance the acid.
When it came to tacos, I much preferred the carne asada to the shrimp. The steak was nicely double-wrapped in corn tortillas and there was just the right amount of onions and cilantro in each. I had flour tortillas with the shrimp and I loved that those tortillas were warm and nicely browned.
The shrimp taco meal also included rice and pico de gallo instead of the onions and cilantro, and there were avocado slices that I wished I had with steak. I did not even touch the chipotle tartar sauce because I didn’t feel it was necessary.
Dessert was necessary because Los Cabos’ fried ice cream was fantastic.
It was coated in crumbled cereal : a method I rarely find to work well : and it was super crunchy. The vanilla ice cream inside was smooth and creamy, which has seemingly become impossible for a place to pull off these days as they all think they have to freeze it in carbonite like Han Solo of “Star Wars” to fry it.
It came in a cinnamon- and sugar-coated fried tortilla bowl that was flaky and delicious and topped with a copious amount of hot fudge and whipped cream. It could not have been made better.
I guess I should not have been surprised it was so good, because at Los Cabos those are the only kind of surprises there are.
Restaurant: Los Cabos Mexican Grill
Address: 10812 Coldwater Road
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Credit cards: Yes
Menu: Queso Ranchero (9.69 steak; 7.49), Burrito Grande (12.19), shrimp tacos (9.99) double chicken fajitas (5.09)
Rating breakdown: Food: ★★1/2 (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: ★ (1 maximum)
Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at email@example.com; call at 461-8130. DuVall’s past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.