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Ixtapa in Lexington

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My family tried the new Mexican place, Ixtapa, today. It's in Lexington on Mass Ave, near the Arlington line. Overall, a very tasty meal. They have fantastic (not too salty and fresh out of the fryer) tortilla chips and fresh salsa. I only tried a little bit of the guacamole, but it was fresh and smooth. I had the chicken mole for my entree, and it tasted a bit strange to me (is there usually peanut butter in mole? That might have been what threw me). The mole was tastier with the rice than with the chicken. And the Mexican rice was some of the best I've had in the Boston area. The menu is extensive, so I'll try something else next time.

We also ordered the fajita quesadilla and the chicken/shrimp fajitas. The quesadilla was on the small side, but the fajitas were plentiful. We ended up wrapping most of it up.

Overall, great new addition to the NW suburbs. Hopefully this means no more family trips to On The Border (which my mother, for some unknown reason, thinks is the be all and end all of Mexican cuisine). Can't wait to go back and try the margaritas!

Link: http://www.ixtapacantina.net

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  1. Our family went last week, and were basically satisfied. Chips were great, margarita was ok (though not as good as Rudy's or Forest Cafe), and my food choice (one of the vegetarian combos) was overly cheesy. The fish tacos that my spouse ordered were OK, though they weren't fried fish, surprisingly! Since it's the closest Mexican restaurant to our house, we'll be back sooner or later. Forest Cafe is still our top of the list for Cambridge/Som/Arlington.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bluebell

      the ixtapa menu is so disappointing for those looking for authentic mexican cooking. and don't even bother with zocalo- too many bad/mediocre reviews.If you're in the brookline/allston area and want mex.food, go to sol azteca. I have not been impressed with the mex.place in arlington on broadway, or tu y yo in somerville or the mex place in inman square. all of them mediocre to me. From Ixtapa in Lex., Forest Cafe/Mexican Cuisine is only a 15 minute drive down mass ave into cambridge. now THAT's excellent authentic mexican.

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        I second OpinionatedChef's review: Ixtapa is blandly ok, and a place for a standard family night out, but it isn't special by any stretch. Service is friendly, chips & salsa pretty good, guacamole quite nice. An extensive menu filled with solid but just-average and overly-cheesed dishes.

    2. Moles are usually made with several nuts, seeds, spices for a complex flavor. Peanut butter is not the norm.

      1. I saw a sign yesterday for the opening of Ixtapa in Woburn Center. As I like Mexico Lindo, I may not try Ixtapa, but you never know!

        1. Ixtapa is a much-needed and welcome addition to the Arlington Heights-Lexington border -- especially with decent to good margaritas (went for the premium versions and they were good!) -- and the mixed fajitas were plentiful and good (not great).

          While it's not as good to us as Mexico Lindo in Melrose or Ole in Inman Square, we definitely prefer it to Zocalo Cocina in Arlington Center (our other nearby option) --

          Our experience with Zocalo last week was mixed, but mostly unimpressive (though someone does like it -- as it as full at 8p on Thursday evening):

          -The special chile relleno with braised pork and cheese filling was very large and very good.

          -The sangria was OK (with a few tiny little pieces of chopped fruit floating in it) and value-priced at a half pitcher for $11 that filled four average glasses nicely -- having the margarita option (no liquor at Zocalo) at Ixtapa much more appealing in spite of higher cost.

          -Pretty cold service overall, both from hostess and servers (vs. warmth/friendliness, and quickness on a really busy night at Ixtapa);

          -Stinginess with the cold, very mediocre chips (took a while to arrive, no refills were offered it was and slow to get one once requested) -- far superior chips and salsa is readily available at Ixtapa;

          -Salsa with very limited flavor and no zip whatsover from peppers or cilantro;

          -The beef enchiladas were bland and unmemorable -- never to be repeated by us.

          In summary, we'll be regulars at Ixtapa, not Zocalo.

          1. I ran across an Ixtapa going in the old Cafe Amante space in Woburn Center. Just wondering the skinny on its origins?? Does anyone know if its a chain, or an industrious sole owner who's branching out ?

            3 Replies
            1. re: Duffelbag

              On the manager's card that I grabbed from the Lexington restaurant, they list 3 more: 2 in New Hampshire, and one in northern MA (can't remember the town, but it's nothing I go by often).

              1. re: Pamalamb

                When the sign first went up in Woburn Ctr I wondered the same thing - but Googling led me only to very isolated instances of restaurants called Ixtapa, and very far-flung (as I recall, they were in WA, TX, and maybe VA ). So it looks to be a very local chain, and the other ones scattered across the country are probably unrelated coincidences.

                1. re: Pamalamb
                  Laura Polatski

                  It is a family run chain consisting of 4 (and soon to be 5 including Woburn) restaurants. A group of brothers operate all of them. Some are managers while others are cooks and head waiters. Most of their wives seem to work there, too.

                  Very friendly family, get to know them if you head in because the Manager is almost always there.

              2. I checked this place out at lunch today and was dissapointed - but willing to give them another shot.

                Ordered the Carnitas plate and when it arrived, the server almost spilled it because it was very soupy. Chunks of sliced pork roast simmered in onions, spices, and some kind of broth. The meat did not seem to be slow cooked, as most pieces were tough. Even the mound of rice and a flour tortilla could not mop up all the liquid that it was sitting in. It was like soup on a plate which liquified the beans, and soaked the lettuce, tomato, and guac that the plate was garnished with. The flavor of the pork was good and spicy, but the soupiness ruined the plate.

                I don't understand how they can serve something like this - its not like the place was busy, they could have taken the time to do it right.

                Salsa for the chips was more like sauce - very thin (tomato juice?) with just a few chuncks of tomatos and onions, spiced with fresh cilantro and crushed pepper. But the chips are thin and crisp.

                Had to send back a Sprite because it tasted more like soda water than sprite, and the replacement was only marginally better.

                But I will give them another chance since I see some potential for decent lunch time tex mex (maybe just stick with burritos and tacos next time).

                1. We think Ixtapa is pretty good for suburban mexican food. No, it's not Ole in Cambridge but at least you can park. Unlike some of the other posters we've never had bad service there; on the contrary, we find the service to be efficient, warm and accomodating. They are also really great with kids.