What's good at Tradiciones (PHX)?
I'm having lunch with a large group at Tradiciones next week. What's good? People on this board seem to be all over the map in terms of whether they like the place or not, so I'm assuming some items are far better than others!
I can't see their online menu for some reason, so I can't ask about anything specific. I especially like dark mole dishes, hot spicy things, and chiles rellenos (when I can find ones with a thin batter and interesting filling, anyway). I prefer to avoid too much melted yellow cheese on/in things. Any suggestions on what to get (or what to avoid)?
i love the cilantro margurita's. and at tradicciones, they have interesting lunch specials which are cheaper than anything on the menu. ive been there for lunch twice in the last year when the lunch special was 'rabbit'.
otherwise, their mole is pretty good, too
I posed the same question a while back and got a couple of responses:
The dishes that failed to wow me were their chicken sopes (well-constructed but bland) and their pescado à la veracruzana ("insipid" was the word that came to mind). I thought their tacos were fine, but they were no better than the less expensive tacos to be had in the food court of the adjacent market. That's as far as I've explored their menu.
Thanks for the link. Unfortunately the vast majority of the replies there seemed to be of the "the x at the food court is better" variety, and since we'll be at Tradiciones proper I was hoping I'd get some more direct recommendations this way. We'll see, I guess.
I'll avoid the sopes and veracruzana, thanks for the heads-up! Maybe I'll be able to talk someone into splitting the mixed grill with me, so far it's one of the few dishes I've found specifically mentioned as good.
The classic queso fundido with warm tortillas is a nice starter because I really like the chorizo they use.
E always gets the mole, though it can vary - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's great. The last time I ordered the Lomo Azteca (pork in a creamy chipotle-cilantro sauce), which was really good.
As you mentioned, one item that's really popular is their signature parrillada platter. We haven't ordered it yet, but you'll see a lot of people who do, especially large groups of Mexican families since it's made for sharing. It's a mixed wood-grill platter with choice of meats like chicken, pork loin, skirt steak, chorizo and seafood, along with grilled onions, cactus, jalapenos, and rice and beans. It comes with tortillas, salsa, and guacamole. $24.95 for two, $48.95 for four.
I actually very much enjoy their pescado veracruz dish, I order it about every third time. I like the flavor balance between the onions-lemon-tomatoes-olives-olive oil, but I can see it falling flat if not prepared correctly. Although, once, I am pretty sure what they gave me was tilapia and what the menu said was snapper. I do agree that the chicken sopes taste of essentially nothing. Which makes no sense, because the pollo rostizado from the La Cocina inside the market beats the crap* out of any other grocery store rotisserie chicken.
My one clear miss is their seafood tamale -- always seems soggy, because they include vegetables as filler. They need to stop doing that, it's a watery mess.
* I am stuck in this once-a-week rut where I stop by and get the 3-4 person family meal which is 10.99 and comes with a pound of carnitas or a pollo rostizado, and beans-rice-salsa-tortillas. That 3-4 figure is accurate for linebackers, maybe. At my location (Central & Southern) they have always been happy to sub chile colorado or any of their other meat dishes if one of those strikes my fancy. And then there is always something to pick up for dessert, dulce mixto, those giant marshmallows bigger than my fist, something from the panaderia.
That was it. The pescado à la veracruzana was mysteriously flat. All of the expected elements of the dish (fish, citrus, onion, capers, olives, peppers, tomato) appeared on the plate, but their flavors were conspicuously absent. I tried scooping up the sauce with the fish. I tried spooning the sauce over the fish. I tried putting the sauce directly into my mouth before taking a bite of fish. Nada. Nunca. Nadie. All I got was was the flavor of very mild fish and a vegetable stock that tasted like someone had possibly whispered "tomato" in its presence.
It was a major bummer, especially after shelling out 12 or 13 bucks for what I was expecting to be a moderately decadent late lunch.
I feel like I should give the restaurant another try, especially given the raves it receives here, but so far it's still near the bottom of my queue. Some day... :-)
I think Tradiciones is a bit of a tourist trap.
That said, if you *have* to eat there, and if you're group is willing to share I would opt for the mixed grill platters served family style.
I think the other respondents have given some good input on the best dishes. I will say, however, that even as a Tradiciones fan, it's hard for me to point to one dish that the restaurant does better than any other.
In a way, I guess Tradiciones might be a tourist trap. If so, consider me happily trapped. Here's what keeps me coming back to Tradiciones:
-- central location that combines well with many other destinations
-- consistently friendly and efficient service
-- good accommodations for kids but not at the expense of adult tastes
-- atmosphere that is more interesting and genuine than typical chain Mexican, but not at all divey either.
On that last point, if I'm eating alone or with other who have similar tastes, I have no problem going to a taco truck or hole in the wall a few miles away to get the absolute best food. Tradiciones, however, often works better as a place to bring family groups, out-of-town visitors, and even local friends who would be uncomfortable in a no-hablo-ingles environment.