Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: San Antonio's Modern Mexican, A taste of the southwest?

I’m from Southern Arizona. I say this because I expect a certain type and quality of food when it comes to Mexican fare. I either want Baja style or good old Sonoran comfort food. Yes, I know there is a lot more to Mexican cuisine, but that’s what I grew up with. However, I’ve learned to accept that cheese crisps (tortillas slathered in butter with cheese melted on top, best served with heaping portions of guacamole) are replaced with quesadillas outside of Arizona.

Nonetheless, I’ve recently been craving comfort food and thus, have been motivated to explore Mexican food in Charlotte. The $5 menu special offered throughout May spurred my desire to check out San Antonios Modern Mexican just next to Dick’s Sporting Goods at SouthPark Mall. Stephanie and I packed up the kiddos and headed on over for lunch.

As we entered the restaurant, we were impressed with the ambiance and initial service. It was a well-decorated open space and they sat us in a large booth, perfect for two toddlers.

We were served chips and salsa, but neither was outstanding. I have had store bought chips and salsa that were on par with these. We were a bit surprised to hear that they were made in house. We decided to try a few dishes, and began with the Amarillo BBQ Glazed Chicken Nachos, moved on to the Jalapeño Shrimp and ended with the Pollo Fundido. I was tempted by the Chili Relleno, but decided against it, because I’m always disappointed when Rellenos are stuffed with things other than cheese (theirs is stuffed with chicken).

We were pleased with the nachos, at first, but then we found that the barbeque sauce became overpowering and made it impossible to taste the rest of the food. We finally found a bit of cheese on the nachos, but only a bit, stuffed inside the pile of chips. It had every element to make it good, but just had a little too much of one thing, not enough of another.

The BBQ Glazed Chicken Nachos
I never thought you could go wrong with bacon wrapped shrimp, two things that seem to go together so well. However, the Jalapeño Shrimp was rather dry, and the bacon around them became tasteless. They were stuffed with jalapeños and pepper jack, but lost both flavors. All in all, the dish was fine for a $5 special, but I would have been quite upset if I had paid the full price of $19.75. The rice was a bit soggy and greasy, not at all the dry, fluffy rice that Mexican rice should be.

Finally, we were ready to tackle the Pollo Fundido. And we waited, and waited, and waited. After a reasonable period of time, we asked a server when the dish would arrive, and discovered that there were many tickets ahead of ours. When we found our server, she confirmed that it would be awhile. Finally, concerned that the two well-behaved toddlers would begin losing patience, we cancelled our order. With our check, however, came our dish! Our server handled the situation gracefully, whisking away the bill and our cards and removed the Pollo Fundido from the bill. We did get to keep it, and found it was the best dish of the bunch! I have to admit, Pollo Fundido was a Tex-Mex first for me, so I can’t speak about it versus other dishes I have had, but it was quite tasty. The chicken and the cream cheese worked well together, but it was not a dish for anyone trying to lower their cholesterol.

The Jalapeño Shrimp
All in all, I wanted to like San Antonio’s. I enjoyed the ambiance and thought they had very nice service. However, a restaurant is ultimately about food, and in this case, the food had every reason to be good, but just didn’t quite get there.

So if you want some Tex-Mex and margaritas, San Antonio’s will do. However, if you are craving some good Mexican cuisine, you’ll want to give this one a pass.


San Antonio's Modern Mexican
4331 Barclay Downs Drive
Charlotte, NC 28209

San Antonio's Modern Mexican on Urbanspoon

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