Visited Tortilleria Jalisco Restaurant in Rochester, Minnesota for the first time this week at lunch in a group of 14 friends from work. Cutting to the chase: worth a try, but I won't frequent here.
First impressions were really good: the place is bright and new inside, food smelled good, and our group of 14 split between two tables of eight in a semi-private dining area.
Menus were large and colorful, containing good quality pictures of most entrees. Since we were there for lunch, everyone was interested in the "specials", but there was a lot of confusion over how the lunch special was priced and what was special about the special since each day's special was a bit different. The menu didn't mention anything about lunch-- there was a laminated page on the table describing the specials but still no prices.
We were seated and given drinks promptly, and as expected were served a chips and salsa appetizer. The salsa was bright and fresh, plenty of chunky tomatoes and although it had a good quantity of onion, the onions were perfectly mild. Sadly everything else about the salsa was mild too... not much flavor, spice or heat. The chip were run-of-the-mill.
The waiter took good care of us all, but since we were new to the place, it took a while to get everyone's order. I have a standard order so that I can compare Mexican Restaurant experiences: Chicken Burrito, Rice and Beans... and I splurged this time and ordered a side of guacamole. The title actually read, "Two Burritos" so I was doubting I could finish it all at one sitting. At Tortilleria Jalisco, every entree has a choice of "fillings" and the selection was very good. I would be satisfied with any plain chicken filling, but the top selection was spicy pulled chicken with tomatoes. Sounded good. One brave soul at our table ordered cactus filling and remarked that it wasn't remarkable.
After our order was taken, we waited a long time for our meals to come. Each table went through four baskets of chips, a couple bowls of salsa and refills on water before food began to trickle out. There was no lunch-time rush today. When meals did finally start to arrive, they came in groups of four with a significant gap between the groups. When the last group got their food, the first group was almost done. My favorite Mexican restaurant in town typically serves us faster than McDonald's can wrap a McChicken. There were no mistakes in ordering despite the size of our group.
Before I describe my meal, you need to know that the pride of Tortilleria Jalisco is their homemade tortillas. I was looking forward to this. Also, there is a "salsa bar" in the dining room stocked with fresh toppings to make your meal a custom delight... rats, I was never told about the bar and only discovered it on the way out to pay for my lunch.
Having ordered chicken burrito, rice and beans from dozens of Mexican restaurants from Florida to Texas and Minnesota to South Carolina, I was kinda expecting a sauce and cheese covered flour tortilla, stuffed with chicken and spices, flash broiled to melt the cheese, served on a plate so hot the waiter must wear oven mitts, but what came was different:
I was served a cold plate of Spanish rice and refried beans next to two, four-inch burritos which were un-sauced, except for where both had been smeared with a bit of beans. Watching others eat, it appeared the burritos were intended to be finger-food, but mine were a bit too messy to pick up. I mixed the tasty rice and beans, although a bit cold, together with salsa off the table and half the guacamole I received in a steel side cup to form a chip-dip which went down well. I ate the first burrito by brute force, fork-slicing it into bite-sized pieces... and I mean brute force-- the flour tortillas were a bit thicker than I usually encounter and were not at all soft. Despite having to work for my food, the combination of goat's cheese, lettuce, spicy tomatoes and chicken was very good. I ate the second burrito in bite-sized pieces cut with my dinner knife which was equally as difficult as using a fork. Both burritos were rather cold, consistent with the idea that these burritos were meant to be "sandwiches" in the sense that Chipotle burritos are "sandwiches". Fine, but not what I was expecting.
I have to add that the guacamole was absolutely superb-- very flavorful, chunky and rich. A great complement to any part of the meal.
Price-wise, I paid bit too much for what I was served-- comparing other places in town, this isn't a bargain diner. The lunch specials were a better choice for folks with a thin wallet.
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