Best Cheap Eats? Dos Amigos in Concord? Hardly.
The Hippo recently released their Best of 2008 magazine, with many NH restaraunts listed as "best" in their category. Under "Cheap Eats", they listed The Red Arrow, Dos Amigos, Pindos Restaraunt & Pizza, and Nashua Garden.
So, continuing my quest for the best mexican food in the area, I headed up to Concord this evening and ordered beans and rice + their chicken, ground beef, and pork tacos on a wheat pita (at the cashier's suggestion), with a side of "hot" picante salsa.
When the food arrived at my table, it was nicely presented, if a little jam packed into their tiny tray. The taco/pitas were half wrapped in foil, surrounding a few nachos, both kinds of salsa they offer, and a styrofoam cup filled half with black beans and half with rice.
The first thing I tried was by far the best. The wheat pita pork taco. It was delicious, and I scarfed that down in two seconds flat. The wheat pita went well with it, the salsa fresca was fresca, the pork was shredded like I like it, and it was just the right spiciness.
Unfortunately the rest of the meal was not so tasty.
The salsa picante was very watery. Like, dip your nacho in and all you get it spicy red water on it. The nachos I suppose weren't bad but it was hard to tell when they were practuically plain.
The chicken taco was boring after the pork. And the wheat pita didn't seem to go as well with it. The chicken was very fresh and good, but I don't know if they held off on the hot sauce cause I asked for that picanta on the side or what, because overall it was just very bland to eat. In fairness though, I'm not even a fan of the chicken tacos at El Mexicano, they just can't hold a candle to the Chorizo. (Which btw, this place doesn't offer, but the pork here was much better than that at El Mexicano.)
And finally the ground beef taco, also with a wheat pita was just... eh.
I'm sure their meats are very fresh, for all I know they even freshly grind the beef each day. The chicken tasted just like a freshly roasted whole chicken, rather than the tougher frozen stuff that you generally find in the meat section. But the tacos, other than the pork, just bored the hell out of me.
Now, getting to the beans and rice. Oh man, this was the worst part of the meal. These were so bland I could hardly eat them. They were fresh tasting like everything else, but they weren't spiced at ALL. No salt, no nothing. That's how they tasted to me at least. Thankfully, this place also offers grilled corn on the cob when in season, so it's not a total wash. I could eat here if I ordered the pork taco and the corn on the cob as a side. They couldn't possibly screw up corn on the cob, and like I said the pork taco is most certainly delicious. It's just a shame that the menu is so inconsistent, and the salsa is so watery.
Finally, it gives me pause that the menu lists "ranchero sauce" as the various hot sauces they offer, but I didn't see anything of the sort on my plate or in my tacos. It's possible they messed up my order, and without the right sort of sauce on the chicken and beef tacos, you get the overall bland results I got. I don't know, but when I cook tacos, if I forget to leave out the sauce the meat doesn't end up tasting completely unseasoned. If I go back eventually though I'll make sure to inquire about the ranchero sauce.
See for yourself on the prices:
Was the watery salsa fresh salsa? Well I guess it was fresh, if you could even call it salsa. I'm not even sure there were any vegetables in there. It was like... red water... in a cup. If there were any vegetables at all they were all at the bottom.
But like I said, it wasn't all bad. The pork taco was great. They also have a chili which they say won several chili cook offs, and it's pretty hard to screw up chili unless you get it out of a can. And I'd be interested in trying the fish taco.
But how could they screw up the beans and rice so badly? And the salsa? That's a real shame. I mean what's mexican food without good beans and rice?
Haven't been there and can't comment on the food but it says "Salsa Fresca". fresh salsa can be very watery because of the tomatoes. If they dipped off the top then that probably explains your salsa. Still shouldn't have happened....
They say they model themselves after California burrito restaurants and mention "Mexican meal" once on their site, but don't claim "authentic" or the like.
Chili cookoff winner: I noticed it is not a sanctioned one. Local cookoffs can have dismal entries so this does not mean (that winning) it would pass muster at a sanctioned event-or even be that style of chili.
I wonder if the other locations get better reviews?
Actually, the salsa fresca was in a seperate container, and on the tacos themselves. This was the salsa picante I was talking about.
The salsa fresca was more like fresh chopped tomatoes with some other stuff, and not wet. Like this:
This is what the salsa picante was like: (Minus the veggies you see here. There were none.
And this is what salsa should look like:
In retrospect I should have just tried mixing the two togehter, but I am reviewing how the restaraunt serves the food, not how creative I am playing with their menu.
As for the chili... The local chili selection is so dismal that the turkey chili at Panera is the best available that I've found so far. So I'll take anything better than that.
I frequently "play" with the salsas served (or available from a secret location, only available for those "in the know"). I always ask if there is something else....hotter (better).
It is hard for me to imagine that salsas are like guns: "we only let you have them if you know what you are doing and are willing to take the risk!"
Thanks for the explanation.
I would call that first image (salsa fresca) Pico de gallo.
Agree with invino... that salsas can be very smooth, similar to a fine gazpacho.
The other salsa looked like mostly tomato puree. If it is what I am thinking of, I've seen that around here (in the N-E) quite a bit; canned tomatoe puree with onions in it, not much else (the occasional obligatory bit of jalapeno or cilantro), and virtually no heat or flavor... Definitely Not a "chile" salsa