When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Acapulco Pasteleria y Antojitos Location: 2810 E. Thomas Road Open: Over three weeks Eats: Mexican Price: $1.50-$14.99
Taking the place of the brightly painted Luv Me Tender BBQ spot is Acapulco Pasteleria y Antojitos. It's a bakery and fast-casual Mexican restaurant in one, and it's crowded.
This newly opened restaurant and bakery is located on a busy stretch of Thomas Road that has no problem bringing in the customers who scour pan dulce cases or the ones looking for some sustenance. The challenge: keeping them there.
Menu items are taped to the glass dividing nearly-empty hot trays. It's rather stuffy inside and when you first walk in there's confusion as to whether you've just walked into the kitchen or not.
Menu items include carne asada, al pastor, chorizo, tripe, cabeza, chicharron and lengua tacos and burritos, enchiladas, chilaquiles, pozole and menudo on the weekends, quesadillas, sopes, tamales and various egg dishes. They also serve jamaica and horchata.
We ordered a carne asada, pastor and chicharron tacos ($1.50 each), a carne asada quesadilla ($5.99), sopes (three for $5.99) and a horchata and jamaica ($1.99 each for a small).
Once the order was placed, we were asked to go around to the outside and wait. Unbeknown to us, there was a small dining area in an Arizona room with a more complete -- and hand written -- menu. Even though the room was open with no air conditioning, it wasn't unbearable thanks to the fans circulating air.
After about 10 minutes the cashier popped in to let us know they were out of cheese so a quesadilla was not possible.
Several minutes later, our order was complete. The al pastor was surprisingly pleasant. It outshined the carne asada that was a little less than average quality. The chicharron -- pigskin -- taco had a nice flavor and the meat was not chewy, which is often the case, but the amount of onions overwhelmed the taco and took away from the flavor.
The sopes were larger in size than most, but were flimsy and topped with a lot more lettuce than meat. Again, the carne asada did nothing to entice us, but was better once we slathered on green salsa.
Both the horchata and jamaica were watery, leaving an off-putting taste.
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Of all the dishes we tried, the standout items were the green and red salsas that carried heat and flavor in a balancing act that masked the not-so-great carne asada. We will be back to get the al pastor tacos.
Altogether, Acapulco seemed unprepared and like they were still trying to figure out how to run the place. Making a more inviting environment that isn't so cramped can go a long way in maintaining a steady stream of customers for some of the hidden gems on their menu.