How do you define good Mexican food?
That’s clearly a rhetorical question, since in the United States — as in Mexico itself — different regions take different approaches to the cuisine. The American Southwest for example, traffics in dishes that celebrate mole and green chile, the latter a delicious, soupy sauce littered with chunks of pork. Not so much in Toledo, but that doesn’t mean there’s not good Mexican to be had in our fair city.
MENU: El Nuevo Vallarta
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★ ★ ★ ½
Address: 4709 Douglas Rd.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: Dis, MC, V
Web site: Facebook page.
Consider El Nuevo Vallarta, located at Central and Secor for five years before relocating to a new spot on Douglas Road on May 17. It’s a lowkey, unpretentious place with a few flat screen TVs dotting walls otherwise occupied by eclectic Mexicothemed art.
There’s a small bar in one corner of the dining room and a shaded patio that seats 30. And there’s the food, billed as “home style” and served hot and in relatively brisk fashion. Longtime fans of El Nuevo will f ind a familiar menu at the Douglas Road location. On our first visit we tried the Carnitas ($11.95), seasoned chunks of boneless pork ribs served with Mexican rice and refried beans. The meat could have benefited from a tad more seasoning, but it was fork-tender and the tortillas came out piping hot.
The portions here are generous, typified by the Tacos Carne Asada ($11.25), a small mountain of seasoned beef tips ready to be tucked into flour tortillas and topped with pico de gallo.
Another visit found us ordering the Shrimp al Moja ($12.25), which was supposed to come with a side salad and didn’t, and Taquitos Mexicanos ($7.95). The lunchtime serving only came with two corn taquitos, which won’t satisfy some appetites, but you get to choose your filling. The menu is surprisingly extensive, with 31 combination plates alone at $8.75 each. Our lone complaint in that regard is that not every combo comes with beans and rice; some come in either or configurations. And the bowl of salsa that comes with complimentary chips for every meal is merely serviceable, not of the fire starter variety that might jolt your taste buds.
The dessert offerings range from Banana Chimichanga ($3.50) to fried ice cream ($4.50). Those who fondly recall sopapillas as doughy pillows on which to drizzle honey will instead find a flat disc of tortilla fried and topped with honey, butter and cinnamon ($2.50). Add a scoop of ice cream for $1.25
And while the restaurant touts its Flan ($4) as creamy, in fact it’s a denser offering, more akin to a cupcake that jiggles. Tasty, mind you, but not exactly melt-in-your-mouth custard. El Nuevo is one of only two restaurants on that two-mile stretch of Douglas (the other being a take-out pizza joint), and on the occasions we visited the clientele was largely people from the Deveaux Village neighborhood just discovering it, and veteran customers rediscovering it.
With an efficient staff and a tasty, expansive menu that even caters to non-meat eaters (vegetarian fajitas, anyone?), it is one dining experience that assures our return.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants. The Blade pays for critics' meals.41.70219 -83.60448
New Douglas Road location bodes well for Mexican restaurant.