Taqueria Mexicano Grill & Bar

Sugar Land, for many years, has been fairly limited in choices when it comes to original and locally owned restaurants, instead it seems to be a shooting gallery of chain restaurants. Aside from Sweet Mesquite which closed on Sweetwater Blvd, the track record for most of the indepedent restaurants in the Sugar Land area looks fairly bleak; unfortunately Taqueria Mexicano doesn’t look to be improving those figures.

With restaurants in the “dime-a-dozen” category like taquerias, where the menus of several different establishments will look relatively the same, the goal isn’t so much about innovation but execution (i.e. getting it done right). Taqueria Mexicano seems to be lacking little touches that would really make all the difference for the diner.

Starting at the table, in any Mexican restaurant the main staple is salsa and a basket chips. The Taqueria provides chips but a very thin and warm bowl of salsa, it actually makes you feel like you are eating a slightly spicy soup with chips instead of spoons. I don’t feel like it is something that will make or break the restaurant but it is one of those little touches that could be easily fixed.

Barbacoa and tongue tacos, a combination I have come to know and love over the years of midnight snacking after a night of bar hopping. At first glance I immediately see that the tacos came with just cilantro and no onions, much like the chips and salsa it is not going to turn the entire dish into a disaster but 99 times out of 100 your tacos come with cilantro and onions. I know that this may not be a big deal but it is the little things that count. The tongue was perfect, very soft not too chewy, add a twist of lime and I am good to go. With the Barbacoa tacos, I found them to be surprisingly dry seeing as to how the meat is normally so greasy. Even after squeezing two limes per taco, they still felt dry.

Following the tacos was a plate of grilled butterflied chicken breast with guacamole, beans and rice. The portion sizes were great, you definitely feel like you get your money’s worth. The beans that came with the plate was the main down fall, lacking in seasoning and leaving the dish feeling lop-sided. I was happy to see that the guacamole is fresh, but I knew that because of the huge avocado peal that was left inside.

One of my all time favorite dishes is “Mojarra Frita”, a whole fish which is dusted with flour and deep fried leaving the flesh with a golden brown crust and the fins crip like bacon. The fish arrived at the table with crispy fins and brown crust, but I was again let down. As soon as I chewed the first bite the lack of seasoning was instantly noticable, absolutly no flavor in the fish. Even the fins tasted like a flavorless piece of filo dough, flaky and bland.

It is a real shame when a restuarant falls short due to little imperfections that can be so easily fixed. Time and time again so many chefs and owners miss these mistakes  if only they would do some quality control, its a matter of taking pride in your work.

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