A Look Inside Crispy ‘N’ Puffy Taquito

Hello, hello!  Welcome to November!  Is everyone looking forward to the holiday season?  I’m looking forward to peppermint EVERYTHING.  Because yes, I’m one of those people.  If you can get excited about all things pumpkin spice, then I can do the same for peppermint.  But I digress.  On Monday, Dad and I tried out a new restaurant in Mesquite called Crispy ‘n’ Puffy Taquito.  It promises “authentic Mexican cuisine with a modern twist,” so we thought we’d give it a shot.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

cnp+website+header+design+copy
A colorful banner.

Accessibility: fairly standard.  There’s an oddly positioned ramp to get in, but that’s been that way since the building went up.  Spacing between the tables is super tight.  I barely maneuvered around them when they were empty.  If it had been busy, it would have been impossible to get beyond the ones right by the door.

Service: wonderful!  Our waitress was friendly and attentive.  She wasn’t sure about me at first, but once she realized I was capable of ordering for myself, she talked directly to me.  She even came out to hold the door open for us when we arrived.

Menu1
I didn’t take any pictures, so here’s one of the menu I found on Google.

Appetizers: not bad.  We ordered the stuffed jalapeños which contain both cheese and chicken.  They were pretty good.  We also had the fried mushrooms.  They were large with a nice crispy crust.  Also pretty good.

Entrees: just no.  I have to go back to the beginning here, which was ordering our drinks.  They advertise a lot of Mexican sodas (Coke, Fanta, etc.), but they were out of them ALL.  Then, when we ordered our appetizers, we found out they also didn’t have any of the avocado sour cream they tout as a must try on their website.  Needless to say, there was a lot of wondering if they even had tacos left.  But they did, so Dad got two beef and two chicken (the only options they have), and I got the nachos.  There was absolutely zero puffiness to Dad’s tacos.  It was just your standard hard shell.  All the reviews we read talked about a flavorful dusting on the shells, but Dad got none of that.  The chicken tasted like it was canned.  The beef was reminiscent of Taco Bueno, only not as… I won’t say good… edible, I suppose.  My nachos had some kind of cheese sauce and the beef and lettuce and tomatoes all topped with shredded cheese.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. The chips tasted fine but had a stale consistency.  Everything was super greasy as well.  It just wasn’t a good experience food-wise.  Also, their menu is super limited.

Menu2
The other side of the menu courtesy of Google.

Dessert: unknown.  Yes, you guessed right.  They were out!

Price: not worth it.  It wasn’t too expensive, but you might as well go to Taco Bell or something like that for the same quality at a better price.

My rating:
M

P.S. I thought long and hard about posting this, especially since they have so many good reviews.  I don’t like being a downer when it comes to a new local business struggling to make it.  But it was just that bad.  Maybe we went on a bad day.  Maybe all the reviews on Google and Yelp are right.  If they’re still around in a year or two, maybe we’ll try again.  All I know is that this go ’round sucked.  And first impressions are everything.

A Look Inside Seafood Shack Mariscos

Hello, hello!  Welcome to September.  It seems like forever since I’ve posted a food review (since January 2017 actually), so I thought it was about time for one.  Dad and I were going to go to Zenna  on Sunday, but they are temporarily closed due to fire damage.  So, we ended up trying a place called Seafood Shack Mariscos.  You can find addresses for all three of their locations on the website linked above.  It has a Big Shucks vibe.  Honestly, it’s super surprising to find a seafood place in Mesquite that isn’t a huge chain (Red Lobster, Joe’s Crab Shack, etc.), so Dad and I decided to check it out.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

Mariscos3
Didn’t think to take pictures, so I borrowed this one from Google.

Accessibility: not bad, not great.  Cripple parking is sparse, but it’s a small lot so what do you expect?  There’s a spot on either side of the loading zone right out front.  And it’s a loading zone that’s actually large enough for me to get unloaded in (yay!).  Getting in is easy enough.  But the tables are pretty tightly packed, so when it’s busy, you have to rely on the kindness of people moving and pushing chairs around so you can reach an empty spot.  It’s embarrassing, but you do what you have to do for the sake of food.  The tables themselves are easy to fit under and a good height.

Service: good.  You order at the counter, they give you a flag, someone brings your food and booze out.  Fountain drinks, tea, and condiments are serve yourself.  The cashier smiled at me when we approached, but seemed a little apprehensive to assume I would order anything.  After she realized I was going to order, she talked to me normally.  Some wires got crossed because I speak softly, but Dad helped straighten them out.  She also messed up some stuff with him, though, so I didn’t feel too bad about my mumbling.  The person who dropped off our food just asked if it was ours and put it down in front of whoever responded, which was perfect.

Mariscos1
Again, no pictures.  So here’s part one of their Mesquite menu from the website.

Food: fan-freaking-tastic!  We got a bowl of gumbo and a shrimp and octopus cocktail to share.  Both of which were amazing.  I had a little trouble chewing the octopus, but it’s supposed to be chewy.  I knew that going in.  Dad had the salmon, which came with rice and veggies.  Aside from the fish being a bit more well done than he usually eats it, he said it was really good.  I had the enchiladas de camaron.  Three shrimp and cheese enchiladas in a creamy sauce with a side of rice.  They were wonderful!

The only (not really) problem with the food was that everything came out at once.  It’s one of those things that happens when you have to order everything up front.  Is it inconvenient?  Yeah, a little.  Especially for those of us who enjoy eating at a slow pace.  Is it a deal breaker?  Nope.

Mariscos2
Part two of their Mesquite menu from their website.

I didn’t notice any desserts on the menu.  Sadness.  But they have mango margaritas (as well as other drinks).  Those things are addictive.  They coat the rim in Tajin (a seasoning containing lime, chili peppers, and sea salt).  It goes really well with the sweetness of the mango.  They also have tamarindo margaritas.  I want to try that one too, but it’s going to be really hard to beat the mango.

Price: normal.  Seafood is never going to be cheap, but the prices here are pretty good.  We walked away with around a $60 bill (not including tip).  That’s not bad considering all the yummy food we got.  We’ll definitely be going back and I suggest you give it a shot as well if you’re in the area!

My rating:
MMMM

A Look Inside Zenna

Hi again!  I haven’t done a restaurant review in quite a while, so I figured it was about time.  Dad and I tried Zenna, a relatively new Thai and Japanese restaurant in Mesquite (I have no experience with the other locations, just to be clear), again on Sunday.  We tried it once before when it first opened and the food wasn’t that good, but we usually give places a second chance unless something drastically bad happens, so here are my thoughts on our second try.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any pictures, so you’ll have to deal with the couple I borrowed from their Yelp page.

A reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

o
The front.  It’s where Bikini’s used to be over by Kaze’s and Chili’s for those familiar with Mesquite.

 As usual, I’ll start with accessibility.  Other than the semi-tight squeeze to get out of the way so Dad could open the second set of doors (not unusual at all around here, thus the norm), it’s pretty easy to manuever around this place.  Where there are steps, there’s also a ramp.  They have some half-booths available so I could sit on the side with chairs and Dad could’ve had a choice, but we sat at a regular table instead.  Table height was perfect for me, but I did run into the central table leg.  It wasn’t a major inconvenience, though.  So, A+ for accessibility.

Service.  The waiter was pretty good.  He was a little iffy when it came to whether or not he thought he should talk to me, but after a couple of reminders that I could indeed order for myself, he seemed to get more comfortable.  He was good about not rushing things and brought everything we asked for in a timely manner.  Dad did have to ask for a refill on his seltzer, but that’s no big deal since the waiter was always nearby and quick to respond.  He did forget to ask us about the spice level we wanted, but after our first experience (my level two came out more like a level four), we were fine with adding the chili paste ourselves.

o1
The menu.

 And, of course, we must discuss the food.  This was where things went wrong on our first visit.  Everything was either bland or burn-your-taste-buds spicy.  This trip was much better.  We had the sashimi seaweed salad (the fish tasted fresh and the seaweed was weirdly delicious) and basil chicken wraps (definitely recommend) to start.  We also shared a bowl of Tom-Kah Kai.  This is one of those things that we have at every Thai place we go to and basically judge everything else based on our experience with this soup.  Some places have amazing Tom-Kah and some don’t.  We don’t usually go back to the ones without it.  Zenna’s Tom-Kah Kai is really good.  It’s not my absolute favorite, but it’s close to home and satisfying.

For entrees, Dad had the combination Sweet Basil and I had the chicken Pad See-Eew.  Both dishes were yummy and had really nice flavors.  Dad actually said his needed more vegetables.  MORE.  The carnivore that is my dad wanted more veggies.  That’s saying a lot.  Other than that, we enjoyed our meals both that night and the next morning with poached eggs on top.  We also split a Midnight Roll (smoked eel, cucumber, avacado, salmon, and some other stuff), which wasn’t bad, but if I want sushi and the like, I’d rather go a few restaurants over to a place called Kaze’s.

Dessert… Dad got the sticky rice with mango and I had the black rice with coconut custard.  Both were good in their own right, but not my favorite.  I’m used to the black rice being more of a pudding than this was, but otherwise it was tasty and I have nothing to really complain about.  It was simply not what I was expecting.

Lastly, the price.  It actually wasn’t too bad considering portion sizes.  Dad and I have easily dropped $100 on that amount of food.  This was about $70 (pre-tip.  Always remember to tip your servers.).  Not bad at all.

So, overall I was happy with this experience.  We’ll go back.  There are better Thai places, but they’re all a half-hour or so drive for us.  It’s nice to have a place ten minutes down the road.  My official rating:

MMMM

A Look Inside Real Mexican Tacos

Hi all!  I know I’ve been slacking on the food review front, so I thought I’d get back to that this week.  A few months ago (July, I believe), a taco place opened up down the road from us (Dad and I).  No, not like Taco Bell tacos, more like Mexican street tacos.  Actually, the place is called Real Mexican Tacos.  For those of you familiar with Mesquite, it’s on E. Davis where the old Red Lantern used to be.  Everyone else can get the address from their Facebook page (linked above).

So, here’s a reminder of the rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

004
Please excuse the dull phone colors. The sign is really quite bright.

First up is accessibility.  It’s in a strip mall with ramps dotted up and down the sidewalk.  The nearest ramp is two doors down, so that’s normal.  Otherwise, the doorway is wide and clear (one door with no twists or turns to finagle my way around to get inside).  The tables are great.  They’re a nice height and don’t have anything that really gets in the way of footrests and all that.  They’re also spread out so it’s not a tight squeeze to get around in the restaurant.  That’s always a “Yay!”

Service… I have no real complaints.  A lot of the staff only speak Spanish, so it can sometimes make for confusion (especially since our Spanish is very limited), but everyone is super nice.  Dad and I have been in a few times and I’m pretty sure we’ve had the same waitress each time (she speaks English).  I think she might have been a little unsure about me at first, but it didn’t stop her from treating me like a person (bonus points!).  Everyone is really helpful when it comes to explaining the different menu items and answering questions.  So yeah, the service is great.

Now, the part everyone really wants to know about: the food!

007
I opted for the enchilada plate last time. Dad had tacos and a quesadilla.

Real Mexican Tacos has a couple of “plate” options (combos that come with rice and beans), but it’s mostly pick and choose stuff (single items that you can mix and match as you please).  This last visit, I went with the chicken enchilada plate.  They have both salsa verde and crema on them.  It was actually frickin’ delicious.  The tortillas weren’t mush like most enchiladas you get around here, so there was a really nice mixture of textures to go along with the flavors.  Definitely recommend them if you don’t feel like tacos.  Dad had a trompo taco (super yum!), a barbacoa taco (good), and a lengua quesadilla (lengua is a personal favorite of mine in quesadillas or tacos or anything really).  They also have sopas and tortas and some other things every day, as well as specials (cabrito tacos, menudo, etc.) on the weekends.

011
Strawberry cheesecake.

Honestly, this last visit was the first time we’ve been that they had dessert.  They’re still really new, so the menu is still growing and changing and that’s perfectly okay with me.  The cheesecake was really good (probably bought at Sam’s Club, but as long as it’s good, who cares?).  We’ll see if there’s anything new next time!

Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk price.  It’s fabulous.  When Dad and I can leave full and content for less than $30, the price is ah-maze-ing.  It’s definitely worth giving the place a try!

My overall rating:
MMMM (a potential MMMMM once they get a little more settled)

See you next week!