Short review - Abuelo's in Phoenix
It wasn't necessarily my choice to go to this chain, but I was trying to be open minded - really, I was. So much so that I rather enjoyed the spicy red salsa and the heated green salsa and the chips. The mild red salsa was bland. My "please give me the cheapest margarita on the menu" drink was bottled mix, as they swiftly informed me when I ordered it, and just fine by my low-end margarita appreciation standards. And praise to the waiter for extending happy hour pricing for us and overall providing terrific unobtrusive service while we held a table longer than we should.
I ordered the chile rellenos, opting for one cheese with queso sauce and one shredded beef with red sauce. When I asked for no beans, the waiter suggested I try the "speciality of the house" potatoes. Kudo's for the large servings, served very hot - but I must admit that a crunchy relleno was a surprise to me. Tasted okay, but nothing outstanding. I'm not a potato fan, and these woulnd't change my mind, but weren't bad. I am, however, a big rice fan - and this was truly dreadful. The carrots were nearly raw, still crunchy (do I see a theme?).
My friend's beef fajita salad arrived, with the meat looking vaguely similar to jerky. Clearly overcooked and dry. The rest of the salad she prounced as good, but the waiter noticed how much of it was left when we were done. He expressed concern, getting the manager, who offered various replacements and apologies, none of which we had solicited. Very nicely done on the service side, especially when the bill was presented with a credit for the salad.
I wish I could say I liked the food, since the service was outstanding. Maybe an off night? Maybe we misordered? The salsa's were good enough to make me wonder. . .but not likely good enough to make me return.
There are too many good mom-and-pop Mexican food places in town. We went to Abuelos a couple of years ago while on the west side and in search of something, anything. Is it me, or is the austerior architecture an odd thing? Too bad the quality of the food didn't match the cathedral ceilings and well executed decorating details.