We have vacationed in the area for years but have never been to Fidel's so my wife and I decided to give the place a try around 6 PM on a Tuesday evening in August. We read about the restaurant's history and popularity so we anticipated an above average, authentic Mexican cuisine. After our dining experience, we concluded that Fidel's is simply over-rated.
We arrived to an almost full parking lot. Actually, a mob scene. People were filing in in droves, large families with crying kids in tow and/or bored teens glued to their cell phone screens, young couples, old couples, large groups, small groups. The restaurant itself appeared nearly full. The pre-requisite Mexican music was blasting at the entrance- way louder than it had to be unless you were trying to do a Saturday Night Live parody of a Mexican restaurant. A flock of frenzied hostesses were greeting and seating people, and a small army of servers and busboys were sprinting about the multiple rooms. The noise level was more conducive to a ball game rather than a restaurant. Was this the only restaurant in town??
A tiny bowl of salsa and a small bowl of flavorless chips appeared at our table. To picture the salsa- think watery ketchup with a shot of hot sauce. The chips were dry and bland. Our server took our order and about 25 minutes later a over-worked food runner (who gets what?) brought our order, a super sized quesadilla and a chimichanga. Our conclusion: decent Mexican food but definitely nothing special.
Average size portions, minimal seasoning, and prices about $2 per dish more than you would expect for this type of restaurant. (I noticed that the fajitas on the menu were priced at $17). The chicken inside our dinners was obviously the pre-cooked "heat and eat" kind that restaurants buy in bulk. Unfortunately, my chicken was not heated sufficiently. Again, probably the result of an overwhelmed kitchen trying to keep up with the volume.
Having experienced a number of excellent Mexican restaurants both in the US and Mexico, Fidel's comes up short in both atmosphere and food quality. When you are grinding out many hundreds, if not a thousand dinners a night, compromises must be made in the kitchen and it shows. A recent review stated that eating at Fidel's was just like being in Mexico. I would say more like eating at fast food restaurant inside a very busy Walmart in Mexico.
If you aren't turned off by the noisy crowds, and you're willing to settle for basic Mexican food with minimal seasoning, and you don't mind paying a few bucks more than it's probably worth, go ahead and eat at Fidel's. Will we put it on our list of favorite restaurants in the area? Probably not.
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