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La fiesta
Thursday, 09 February 2012
Photos by Wes Naman
SE Heights staple eatery Lindo Mexico offers a long list of entrées, a colorful atmosphere, a lively soundtrack and smiles all around
By Kevin Hopper
I have a theory about Mexican music: It is absolutely impossible to listen to it and not have a smile on your face. Sure you can force a frown, but you know when those horns are blaring and the ebullient choruses ring, you are smiling on the inside. Try it the next time you’re feeling glum and I guarantee it will (at least briefly) cure your woes.

Another thing that makes everyone happy: great food. And while I’m certainly not condoning food as therapy for depression, a combination of both great Mexican fare and jubilant Mexican music definitely has its therapeutic benefits. Both can be found in abundance at Lindo Mexico, located in the near SE Heights.

Like many of the city’s eateries offering south of the border Mexican fare, Lindo Mexico has an absolutely huge menu, one that is just as colorful and splashy as the restaurant itself — the interior here is ultra-gaucho, complete with tequila bottle chandeliers, a full-size saddle, Hacienda-style exposed brick and horse and cowboy sculptures.

Take your time with the menu (you’ll need it), but be sure to order an appetizer while doing so. I highly suggest either the queso fundido, a rich and stringy boat of cheese melted over toothsome chorizo, or the much brighter flavors of the Ceviche a la Playa ($11.25), cooked or marinated shrimp topped with ripe avocado, cilantro and citrus swimming in a glass of tangy tomato sauce. Be warned, the service here is top notch and quick. So start with a cerveza and an appetizer and take your time mapping out your plan for the rest of the meal.

ImageEntrées at Lindo Mexico are seemingly limitless. The shrimp dishes alone nearly outnumber the entirety of most seafood restaurants, the most curiously tempting of which has to be Cameron a La Fiesta (shrimp stuffed with cheese and jalapeño and rolled in bacon, $12.75). Other shrimp dishes include Cameron al Chipotle ($12.25), Cameron al Diabla ($12.25) and Cameron a la Plancha ($12.25), with menu descriptions range from ultra-specific to something as vague as “special sauce.” This simply adds to the adventurous nature of dining here.

However, on a pair of separate visits, I didn’t find myself in a shrimp kind of mood. Rather, on my first visit, my dining companion and I became smitten with the Plato Taquero ($18.99) a Mexican smorgasbord that probably didn’t need to follow my queso fundido. This entrée is definitely “para dos” and consists of a half a dozen tacos, two orders of scrumptious charro beans, a pair of baked potatoes, two fried jalapenõs and (what the heck) a side of melted cheese, the latter of which was placed next to our earlier order of melted cheese. Pair this with a cerveza, or better yet a michelada, and you’re just about a close to competitive eating as your going to get in this town. I might suggest sharing this meal with three or even four patrons, which would make it a super cheap lunch or dinner. All of it was tasty, even the potato which I didn’t touch at the table but ate later that night topped with the leftover queso and chorizo.

ImageOur second visit was a bit less indulgent. I followed our cooked shrimp ceviche tostada (crazy fresh, cool and crunchy) with the Mojarra Ranchera ($11.99), one of many mojarra variants here, a whole tilapia fish (head to tail) crusted and deep-fried to a crisp and topped with sauteed peppers and another of Lindo Mexico’s “special sauces,” which contrasted well with the tilapia’s crunch. Note: this isn’t an easy dish to eat as the fish has not been deboned.

One of my fellow foodies on this visit ordered a simple combination plate that included a near perfect chile relleno basking in a green sauce. My other fellow foodie ordered a simple taco plate — choose from asada, carnitas, deshebrada, pollo or alambre — served three-up on a plate with charro beans and a garnish of lettuce, cilantro and lime. As a taco freak, I was obviously stricken with food regret, but was able to coax a bite or two for myself. Even though more restaurants manage to convolute this simple, no-frills dish, Lindo Mexico pulls it off beautifully.

It might take me a hundred visits to this cozy, irrepressibly buoyant eatery before I taste all the dishes on the menu, but I will happily do so with a cerveza in my hand, queso fundido dripping from the corner of my smile and that oh-so-jovial soundtrack. Eat here, get happy.

Lindo Mexico
416 San Pedro SE, 505.266.2999
11a-6p, Mon.-Wed.; 9a-3p, Thu.; 9a-7p, Fri.-Sun.
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