Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Emiliano'z Review: Is it Really Cinco de Mayo Without a Margarita?

For those of you heading out tonight for a Cinco de Mayo celebration, let me suggest Emilano’z for the food and the ambiance. If drinking’s all you have in mind, let me suggest you try another place.

Emiliano’z is located on 436 near Forrest City Road in a former Shell’s restaurant. The place doesn’t look like Shell’s anymore, let me tell you that. The interior has been completely remodeled and is now decidedly classy and upscale. The color palate features soothing rusts, oranges, taupes, and beiges. It’s so nice to visit a Mexican restaurant that doesn’t follow a back alley in Tijuana motif - no Mexican shabby chic at Emiliano’z.

That being said, we were seated outside on the deck, by request. The upscale interior failed to flow outside. We were seated in typical patio furniture with no tablecloths. What should have been a nice view of Lake Pearl, was mostly blocked by weeds and invasive trees. To the right, apartments that have seen better days.

Our server was a nice young man who was obviously just beginning his career. He promptly explained the specials, took our orders and brought out chips and salsa, spilling it as he sat it on the table. He didn’t bother to clean up the mess. I covered it with the chip bowl.

For an appetizer, we ordered the Q’SO Dip ($3.49). This was no dip, it was straight melted cheese, and it hardened after one or two bites. The cheese had a nice flavor, but I’d have preferred it semi-liquid.

Although I had ordered a Coke for my beverage, I decided I wanted a Margarita to enjoy on the patio. I asked the waiter for a bar menu and he said he would fetch one. He returned with the main courses, but no bar menu. I asked again, and he returned quickly with it.

I chose Huarache ($7.99) for my main course, mostly because it was named a “Favorite!!!” on the menu. Any dish with three exclamation points must be good I thought. On top of baked cornmeal bread shaped like a sandal, and hence the name huarache, the dish was topped high with refried beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, “Q’SO” crumbles and sliced steak. I wasn’t disappointed with the portions or the toppings, but the cornmeal dough was just south of fully cooked, and it had a distinctly burnt taste.

My dining partner went with Carnitas La Piedad ($13.99), a dish of Michoacan-style, marinated pork carnitas served with grilled onions – think pulled pork to those unfamiliar with carnitas. The meat was deliciously tender, and tasted like a really good pot roast with a hint of spiciness. The carnitas was served with Mexican rice, and refried beans, with lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo and sliced jalapenos on the side.

As for my Margarita, well, the waiter never returned to take my drink order. In fact, he never returned to clear our empty plates. We sat there for at least 20 minutes with dirty dishes across our table as numerous waiters, bus boys, and twice, a person I assumed was the manager because he was showing off the patio to guests, walked by repeatedly. Not a single person offered to clear our table. Finally I asked a passerby if he could find our waiter. Our waiter shortly appeared to clear the table and remove the bar menu. He never once offered to take my drink order.

So the food at Emiliano’z was above average, the décor a delight and the patio was nice, but I really would have liked a Margarita. The bar menu featured an outstanding assortment of tequilas and various mixed drinks. I wish I could tell you how great the Roasted Coconut Margarita ($7.99) was, but I didn’t get a chance to try it. I would have loved to tell you about the different Tequila flights offered, but no can do. I would have even settled for telling you about the Dos Equis beer special. Nope.

If you decide to try Emiliano’z for Cinco de Mayo, will you please let me know how the Margaritas were?

Tres out of Cinco de Mayo

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Eating Orlando said...

Emiliano'z Cinco de Mayo Beer Special: 5 Dos Equis Longnecks for $10

Doug said...

Give them another chance. The food and service have made it my favorite Mexican place. While there was one particularly busy night when service was slower than desirable, what you describe is certainly not the norm.

We did go there for Cinco de Mayo and it was a great time, complete with a Mariachi Band that took requests and even did a couple of Irish Pub tunes.

Can't tell you about the margaritas, though, as I'm more a cerveza guy.