Say this for Loma Linda’s Mexican restaurant on Airport Highway:
They must be doing something right.
The place just across from Toledo Express Airport is one of the more bustling eating establishments in the area and even on a routine week night can be packed, with a 15 or 20-minute wait, live music on the patio, and dozens of folks soaking up the homey atmosphere and tasty drinks.
Unfortunately, the food is generally bland and after a few visits it’s difficult to see what all the fuss is about. Our lunch was especially dull with only the botanas nachos ($4.19/$6.69; nachos with Monterey jack cheese and chorizo) making a favorable impression among a meal that included six other items.
On our first visit the waitress was exceptionally attentive and quick to bring our drinks and appetizer: the nacho sampler ($8.09) featuring 12 nachos with ground beef, chicken, and beans. Only one person ordered an alcoholic drink -- an excellent cranberry margarita priced at $3.52 -- and it was at the table in less than three minutes.
We tried the large Mexican sampler ($12.29), which included a ground beef taco, a chicken tostada, cheese enchilada, tamale, refried beans, Mexican rice, and guacamole. Loma Linda’s take on Mexican food is highly Americanized, so you get melted cheese that’s a mix of American and jack, a combination that is salty, gooey, and uninspiring.
The taco, tostada, and enchilada were solid, but nothing special. The tamale and beans were virtually tasteless.
A chicken and beef fajita combo ($11.29) was a bit better. The chicken had a spicy kick, but the beef was chewy and dry; better to leave it off and just go with the bird.
The Monday lunch special was chili, a taco, a cheese enchilada and rice which was a bargain at $6.18. I asked for white jack cheese rather than the American/jack mix and the waitress was accommodating. But once again, nothing stood out. The chili had a bit of a tomatoey tang, but there was no zing or anything that would make it worth recommending.
The Cajun chicken chimichanga ($11.19) was supposed to be relatively hot, but it was actually mellow and devoid of anything resembling spiciness. My lunch partner was from Texas -- an obvious hotbed of high quality Tex-Mex food -- and he was underwhelmed by the meal, complaining about the lack of flavor, what he considered the pasty quality of the salsa, and the desultory jalapenos, which clearly came from a can.
The wait staff and atmosphere at Loma Linda’s are top-notch. From the hostess who checked us in on a week night and made sure we weren’t lumped in with the people waiting for tables outside (a much longer wait because of the entertainment) to our waitresses, they were friendly, fast, and hard working.
It’s obvious that the place is designed to be a fun restaurant to kibitz with friends, have a few drinks, and knock down some inexpensive, albeit uninteresting Americanized Mexican food.
A couple of notes:
●The restaurant charges 75 cents for tortilla chips.
● Loma Linda’s is part of a local mini chain that includes Ventura’s in Sylvania Township and Arturo’s Fritz and Alfredo’s on Summit Street in Toledo.
● Loma Linda’s opened in 1955 and it has been in the Airport Highway location for 52 years, according to its Web site.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Address: 10400 Airport Hwy.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday. Reservations are accepted only for parties of 20 or more.
Wheelchair access: Yes
Average price: $$
Credit cards: AE, Dis, MC, V
Web site: toledostripletreat.com/loma
Ratings: * * * * * Outstanding; * * * * Very Good; * * * Good; * * Fair; * Poor.
Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants. The Blade pays for critics’ meals.