Do you look back on Spring Break in Cancun (all those body shots and sunburns) and wish you could go back? If so, grab your sunglasses and hurry on down to this authentic Mexican restaurant with high-quality, hearty dishes and a killer patio.
If you choose to sit inside, settle into one of the hand-painted leather chairs across from a glowing Virgin De Guadalupe shrine embedded into the exposed brick walls. From there, you’ll have a perfect view of the traditional paintings of cockfights, harvesting time and a thick woman with sad eyes strumming a guitar. Pressed against the copper ceiling, blue speakers blast exotic tunes that set the pace for your meal.
Start off by ordering a tasty ceviche ($6) to snack on along with the complimentary fresh, crispy chips and delicious mole sauce. But don’t fill up on the first course; the second round comes in large portions, and you’ll want to soak up every last bit of the mango chutney sauce on the salmon a la guijillo ($13).
During warmer months, the back patio is a must. Nestled into a row of residential backyards, it affords a certain amount of privacy that allows couples to play footsy, but also encourages drunk men to loudly reminisce about their college days.
Because nothing goes better with sunshine than tequila, I ordered the much acclaimed pomegranate margarita ($9) while I sat at one of the patio’s wrought-iron tables. As I watched my waitress pour the pre-mixed liquid out of an enormous plastic jug and straight into my cup, I felt a bit duped. I couldn’t pick up any pomegranate flavor, but the taste reminded me of sipping a Hi-C juice box in my first-grade classroom. Suddenly, memories of coloring with crayons came interspersed with notes of a sugar-buzz and a few giggles. I think I’ll stick to the regular ‘rita on the rocks next time or select one of El Nuevo’s specialty cocktails, like the Acapulco with rum, pineapple juice, coconut crème and grenadine.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Maude Standish