The Last Straw

Iguana Mack's lacks flavor, flair

We get the zucchini. But what the hey? This lauded appetizer is boring, just skinny disks of tasteless squash enrobed in damp, tasteless batter, with none of the hot steamy crunch of breading and molten gush of juicy vegetable liquid that its predecessor brought. The oil temperature needs to be turned way up for a crisp coat, and the zuke cut a bit thicker to keep the fruit moist.

I've also ordered arepas, a Cuban dish, and I detest it. Five dry, grilled corn cakes almost make my eyes water with their harsh, vinegary assault, perhaps from their chorizo infusion, and so strong that the metal flavor can't be hidden by scoops of sour cream and nice-on-its-own shredded smoked pork. Catfish has flat out gone bad, the fillet surprisingly juicy but unmistakable with its dusty, moldy stench that settles in my nostrils after the first forkful. A chile-cheese corn muffin is Sahara, even slathered in butter. The only thing I finish -- default of despair -- is a side of smooth mashed potatoes drizzled in brown gravy studded with mushrooms.

It's sad that an entire petting zoo had to be sacrificed to comprise "The Whole Barnyard," a careless platter of two low-flavored barbecued chicken thighs, a fistful of tough burned barbecue spareribs, and just-okay pulled barbecue beef. The promised sides of coleslaw and muffin are no-shows; the plate is taken up with a watered-out roasted corncob. The only acceptable dish I find is that open-face pot roast sandwich, chuck steak smoke-roasted for six hours and ladled with mushroom-studded brown gravy over store-bought white bread.

Gravy drain: Iguana Mack's comfort cuisine tends to run out of steam.
Erik Guzowski
Gravy drain: Iguana Mack's comfort cuisine tends to run out of steam.

Location Info

Map

Iguana Mack's Arizona Roadhouse

1371 N. Alma School Road
Chandler, AZ 85224

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Chandler

Details

Fried zucchini: $5.75
Arepas: $5.95
Fried catfish: $10.95
The Whole Barnyard: $11.95
Chicken and spinach enchilada: $7.95
Pasta jambalaya: $9.50

480-899-6735. Hours: Lunch and dinner, Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

1371 North Alma School, Chandler

Two other dishes are atrocious, and then I wave my white flag over the 40-plus item menu. I'd rather eat moldy hay than the Iguana's flabby enchiladas stuffed with minced smoked chicken and spinach in a tomatillo-cream cheese goop. Sides are essentially herb pilaf and pinto beans in bell pepper broth. Yawn. And the menu writer who wrote "kick-ass" next to the description of the so-called Cajun cream sauce on my jambalaya linguini should have 100-pound bales dropped on his head. There's nothing remotely exciting about this oily separation pooled over rubbery sautéed chicken, tiny shrimp and chorizo crumbles spiked with huge chunks of green pepper and onion.

What a week.

On the plus side, I was able to give a Gilbert friend simple directions to my house the other day. Just go outside, look north and head toward the mountain of green straw looming in the flight path of the Scottsdale Airpark. And if the stack does go up in flames, the inferno might convince my eternal termites to find another residence to eat, which would be good. Sigh.

In the meantime, know anybody who needs some hay? Delivery is free.

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