Las Delicias Mexican Bar and Grill
4002 Park Avenue
It's been nearly four years since we took the monkeys (Satchel, 8, and Jiro, 6) to the original Las Delicias. Although my review was fairly positive, I can only attribute our lack of a return visit to our methodical and time consuming sampling of every Mexican restaurant on Summer Avenue and Macon Road.
When the East Memphis location opened up a while back, there was renewed buzz, so I went for lunch one day. It was good, but I didn't consider it anything special after having tried so many other Mexican restaurants in town. Over the summer, I did buy the chips and salsa and guacamole from the stands at the Cooper-Young Farmer's Market and Memphis Farmer's Market, and enjoyed them very much. (I do think the thick, greasy-ish chips are a bit of an acquired taste.)
Finally, a few weeks ago, we decided to check it out with the monkeys. It was always Friday night when we tried to go, and it was always busy. The idea of actually standing in a line to get in did not appeal to me.
Two weeks ago, we headed over again on a Friday, but at 6:00pm. It was clearly before the rush, and we had our choice of tables. We sat down at a large table in the center of the restaurant. It was round and had little flaps that folded down to make it square. I immediately started trying to fold down the flaps because the table was way too large for four people, despite having only four chairs. The chairs are extremely large too. In general, I'd say that the furniture is ridiculous. Before the space was Las Delicias, it was Wang's Chinese Restaurant. (Right?) Clearly the furniture was leftover from that, but even at a Chinese restaurant, I'd think it was too large and ridiculous.
Since they weren't busy yet, we asked to move to a smaller table by the window. The table was smaller, but the chairs were still on the large side.
We were immediately given chips and salsa, which got our minds off of the furniture. I ordered a round of waters, cheese dip for the kids, and a frozen margarita for myself. (My back was killing me and I needed it!)
I noticed lots of people starting to filter in, and I can only assume it threw our waitress for a loop. She brought the kids' waters in styro cups with tops, but with no straws. It took me a good 5 minutes to get her attention and ask for straws. (Satchel just took his top off, but due to their size, I wanted them to keep the lids on.)
Soon my margarita came and it was perfect, minus the coffee stirrers I was supposed to drink it through.
Enough complaining about straws. On to the food. I'd been craving tortilla soup, so I ordered a bowl of that. Jiro wanted tacos, so I got him two chicken tacos minus the cilantro and onion with the addition of cheese. (I'm pretty sure the menu has a listing for gringo style tacos. That's basically what he wanted, I suppose.) Satchel, claiming not to be hungry, said he only wanted beans and rice. I knew that Las Delicias had the charro beans, which he liked elsewhere, so I ordered him those. Warren has been on a burrito kick, so he went with a pork one.
To pass the time while we waited for the food, the monkeys engaged us in conversation about Justin Bieber's new haircut, which I thought was hilarious. They also noticed when Simon (from American Idol) made an appearance on the TV behind me. And no dinner conversation would be complete without a thorough discussion of what they want for their upcoming birthdays.
The food came out fairly quickly. My soup was smoky and spicy. The chips they put in were already a tad on the mushy side which kind of made it less than awesome. Satchel wanted a taste, but it was too spicy for him. I ate about half, passed it to Warren and then ordered some guacamole.
There's no question that the guacamole is the star of the menu. However, I don't think they do anything special beyond using fresh ingredients. I'm pretty sure that Warren could replicate it at home.
Jiro was very happy with his tacos, which came out looking more like tostadas. He ate them in their entirety which is rare for him. (Apparently he ate them quick since I seem to have no photo!)
Warren was happy with his burrito but didn't think it was anything special. "I don't get the hype," he said. "It's good, but there are better places with better atmosphere."
Satchel ate all of his rice, which came out looking quite fancy.
The proliferation of cilantro on top of his charro beans marred them in his eyes. Warren tried some mountain top removal which got him to eat some, but most of them came home with us. (I have to add that the small to go cup we were given for the beans was a bit kersplunkleflunkel and the beans dripped everywhere, which really sucked.)
When we got our ticket, which was $29.85, I explained to Warren that people like Las Delicias because it's good enough and it's cheap, plain and simple. ($30 is pretty standard for our meals, but I don't usually order alcohol, so $30 with alcohol is pretty cheap in my opinion.)
By the time we left, the place was mobbed. I think Las Delicias has done a great job catering to their clientele. The East location is decidedly more gringo-fied than the original. Also participating in local farmer's markets is commendable. I'm not sure we'll be rushing back to the restaurant anytime soon, but I plan to continue my love affair with their chips, salsa, and guacamole as soon as the market season begins.