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Have any experience(s) at Cinco Lagos, Milford, MI?

I've seen some very intriguing Chowhound references to Cinco Lagos, but I can't find any actual reviews. Need input, please. I'm meeting someone for an early, short dinner before going to a speech by Rick Steves in Wixom this Tuesday. I don't want to drag my buddy somewhere where he feels overcharged for food that doesn't deliver on its hype. (remote possibility, granted) Thanks!

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  1. While I have yet to get out there myself...I hear the price point is very affordable. I just recently heard they serve lunch now as apposed to when it was Five Lakes Grill.

    6 Replies
    1. re: JanPrimus

      Maybe this will be a "take one for the team" situation. I'm buying into the hype, but the menu on the web is not particularly inspiring. Time to go try to convince my buddy to go.

      1. re: vtombrown

        My wife and I went to Cinco Lagos about 2 months ago. Food was very good. Much lighter then your typical mexican fare. The only real gripe is that they do not accept reservations (at least not then) and we waited quite a while for a table. Not sure that it would be a "quick stop" for you.

        1. re: Quit2Chef

          Good tip Quit2Chef. I'll go AFTER the speech, instead of trying to squeeze it in beforehand. Did you have the pozole, carnitas or barbacoa, by chance? Rec?
          PS--sometime I hope you tell us the story behind your screen name.

          1. re: vtombrown

            Actually we kind of ordered family style and I was able to taste all 3 plus the rellenos. The standout to me was the barbacoa. Melt in your mouth tender with a nich crust on the edges. As far as the screen name....at this point it is more of a dream then a reality. I work 60hr weeks managing a car dealership. Would love to be in a financial position to go to culinary school and become a chef. For now it is just my favorite hobby.

            1. re: Quit2Chef

              I am with you on the want to quit my profession (but I am even unemployed from that right now) and go to Culinary Arts School. I have even started making my plans for the restaurant of my dreams. Slowly but surely. I even have financial backing if I move to the South West US, but that I don't know about. I have spend a good amount of time in California, Texas and I have family in Arizona. So far not impressed...rather go to the east coat if I had to move.

              What type of Barbacoa are they using? Sheep, Goat, or Beef?

              1. re: JanPrimus

                As I understand it they change from time to time. When I was there it was lamb. Would love to try the goat.

    2. Visited a few weeks ago. Concept is admirable. Execution is not. Service fair. Food lacked quality control. Enchilada sauce was so bitter it was inedible, but took 15 mins for waiter to return to get the complaint.. Waitstaff didn't understand, then returned from the kitchen to advise that cooks had dumped too much of something into the batch but didn't realize it (they don't taste??). This is simply an unacceptable mistake. Have NEVER had this in any restaurant, let alone one that specializes in the genre. Not worth an hour drive. Not even worth walking across the street UNLESS this was an aberration. Would be interested in hearing from others, as I don't like to be disappointed in the face of such good expectations.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ravenjon

        I would hope to think this was an aberration Ravenjon. Your experience was very different from my visit to Cinco Lagos, but I've only been there once. I thought the food was very good and all the flavors were right on. Our server was attentive and often checked back on how everything was and if we had any additional needs.

        I agree with Quit2Chef when she said the food was much lighter than you would typically get. Nothing was covered in extreme amounts of sauces or melted cheese. Prices are moderate. Not really cheap, and nothing overly expensive. Most likely this will be the cheapest we'll ever be able to experience a Brian Polcyn restaurant.

        Vtombrown, I had the carnitas. They were pretty tasty, with good flavoring and a nice crust, but I don't think they were the best thing I tried. I was lucky enough to get a few tastes of some other dishes and my recommendations are Chiles Poblanos Rellenos and the Green Chile Enchiladas. Unfortunately both were ordered by vegetarians so I didn't get to try them with meat, but they both had great flavors and didn't really miss the meat. Let us know what you get and how you like it.

        1. re: Ravenjon

          Hi Guys, Thanks, again, for the additional responses. Unfortunately, I couldn't talk my friend into this boondoggle. (we stopped at a quicker, known entity on the route home---BiBimBap). Will try and then share my Cinco Lagos experience soon. Though, given the mixed reviews, I'm tempted to try Brian Polcyn's Forest Grill first, before making the drive to Cinco Lagos. Will get there, in any event. Cheers

        2. I'm actually headed out to Milford tomorrow, so I'll be stopping here for lunch. I'll let you folks know what I think of it. Any non-cheese suggestions? I'm into full-flavored stuff, here, so shoot your ideas to me tonight.

          I apologize for being so sporadic on the board over the last week or so. My laptop's still being worked on, and so I have to depend upon the kindness of others to let me use their computers, so I'm kind of stuck that way. I'll review Cinco Lagos as best I can, though!

          28 Replies
          1. re: boagman

            Boagman, Thank goodness you haven't fallen off the face of the earth! Though Cheeeese, Ravenjon and (hasn't quite yet)Quit2Chef have convinced me that I must try this place for...decide for.... myself (carnitas, barbacoa..), I'll look forward to your report, too----starting with pozole pork stew?. In the meantime, can you talk some sanity back into Detroit foodie JanPrimus, who seems to be looking down upon Phoenix, San Francisco, Napa/Central Valley, Carmel, Santa Barbara, L.A. and San Diego!!!??? I think he's on the brink.

            1. re: vtombrown

              I can't do that, VTB. I haven't been to any of those places within the last couple of years (save Phoenix, but couldn't eat anywhere decent because of the company I was keeping), and in general, I'm pretty sure that southern CA is pretty loopy. ;)

              Pozole pork stew, eh? It is spicy? Because I have to tell you: I'm really in the mood for some kick. I'm just getting over my annual upper respiratory infection, and spicy is really appealing to me right now. I promise you that I'll try this, provided that it's available, and won't tax my wallet too hard.

              I'm actually quite looking forward to this lunch. Again, Mexican isn't my forte, but Brian Polcyn definitely knows his way around a kitchen, and the recipes he's using at Cinco Lagos are the ones his mother used while he was growing up, and I understand that she's still active there as well. I do likes me some pork, though, and I haven't had any in a while.

              I'll report back.

              1. re: vtombrown

                I can't do that, VTB. I haven't been to any of those places within the last couple of years (save Phoenix, but couldn't eat anywhere decent because of the company I was keeping), and in general, I'm pretty sure that southern CA is pretty loopy. ;)

                Pozole pork stew, eh? It is spicy? Because I have to tell you: I'm really in the mood for some kick. I'm just getting over my annual upper respiratory infection, and spicy is really appealing to me right now. I promise you that I'll try this, provided that it's available, and won't tax my wallet too hard.

                I'm actually quite looking forward to this lunch. Again, Mexican isn't my forte, but Brian Polcyn definitely knows his way around a kitchen, and the recipes he's using at Cinco Lagos are the ones his mother used while he was growing up, and I understand that she's still active there as well. I do likes me some pork, though, and I haven't had any in a while.

                I'll report back.

                1. re: vtombrown

                  I can't do that, VTB. I haven't been to any of those places within the last couple of years (save Phoenix, but couldn't eat anywhere decent because of the company I was keeping), and in general, I'm pretty sure that southern CA is pretty loopy. ;)

                  Pozole pork stew, eh? It is spicy? Because I have to tell you: I'm really in the mood for some kick. I'm just getting over my annual upper respiratory infection, and spicy is really appealing to me right now. I promise you that I'll try this, provided that it's available, and won't tax my wallet too hard.

                  I'm actually quite looking forward to this lunch. Again, Mexican isn't my forte, but Brian Polcyn definitely knows his way around a kitchen, and the recipes he's using at Cinco Lagos are the ones his mother used while he was growing up, and I understand that she's still active there as well. I do likes me some pork, though, and I haven't had any in a while.

                  I'll report back.

                  1. re: vtombrown

                    I can't do that, VTB. I haven't been to any of those places within the last couple of years (save Phoenix, but couldn't eat anywhere decent because of the company I was keeping), and in general, I'm pretty sure that southern CA is pretty loopy. ;)

                    Pozole pork stew, eh? It is spicy? Because I have to tell you: I'm really in the mood for some kick. I'm just getting over my annual upper respiratory infection, and spicy is really appealing to me right now. I promise you that I'll try this, provided that it's available, and won't tax my wallet too hard.

                    I'm actually quite looking forward to this lunch. Again, Mexican isn't my forte, but Brian Polcyn definitely knows his way around a kitchen, and the recipes he's using at Cinco Lagos are the ones his mother used while he was growing up, and I understand that she's still active there as well. I do likes me some pork, though, and I haven't had any in a while.

                    I'll report back.

                    1. re: vtombrown

                      I can't do that, VTB. I haven't been to any of those places within the last couple of years (save Phoenix, but couldn't eat anywhere decent because of the company I was keeping), and in general, I'm pretty sure that southern CA is pretty loopy. ;)

                      Pozole pork stew, eh? It is spicy? Because I have to tell you: I'm really in the mood for some kick. I'm just getting over my annual upper respiratory infection, and spicy is really appealing to me right now. I promise you that I'll try this, provided that it's available, and won't tax my wallet too hard.

                      I'm actually quite looking forward to this lunch. Again, Mexican isn't my forte, but Brian Polcyn definitely knows his way around a kitchen, and the recipes he's using at Cinco Lagos are the ones his mother used while he was growing up, and I understand that she's still active there as well. I do likes me some pork, though, and I haven't had any in a while.

                      I'll report back.

                      1. re: vtombrown

                        Pst....its the weather I don't like out there....I like my four seasons.

                        BTW Rumor on the street is that Boagman will report back....several times.

                        1. re: JanPrimus

                          LOL, janprimus.

                          The boards have been acting strangely lately, at least for me.

                          1. re: JanPrimus

                            Yeah, no kidding! That post of mine simply *would not post* several times, obviously, and then, all of a sudden, there they all were! Thankfully the mods deleted my unintended copies. That annoyed me.

                            More annoying, though, was the fact that I found out today, much to my chagrin, that Cinco Lagos is dinner only! They open at 4PM for the time being, and so my ability to get lunch there today was given the kibosh. Not being easily dissuaded, I went to the back of the place to see if I could at least get a carry-out menu (and possibly some pozole), and met a couple of the nice ladies who work there. I was able to get a carry-out menu, but unfortunately, no food was available for me to buy and try. Curses. Foiled again!

                            Actually, I was rather taken aback by how many places in downtown Milford are either not open for lunch, or altogether shuttered. There's an Irish tavern across Main Street that looks like it's been closed for a while, and so I ended up eating my lunch at that Institute of Culinary Art: Arby's. You know, the one right by the Wal-Mart. That one. Yeah. ;) And for Arby's, it wasn't bad. Hey: I was *really* good and hungry by that point.

                            ::sigh:: Cingo Lagos, I will get to eat your food at some point! Apparently, they're thinking about expanding hours to include lunch during the summer. That would allow me to eat there far more easily. Sorry I can't give it a proper review!

                            1. re: boagman

                              I regret that i was the one that had heard they were open for lunch now. I will find the person that told me that they did that and I will either knee cap them or send them Seldom Blues Gift Certificates.

                              1. re: JanPrimus

                                Dang! No need to be *that* harsh, JP! The kneecaps will suffice nicely... ;)

                                1. re: boagman

                                  Is OK remember that Seldom Blues closed down...One goose chase deserves another!

                                  1. re: JanPrimus

                                    Bummer. Thanks for the laughs, though, you guys. PS--the pozole just is a side appetizer soup of pork stew with hominy, onions, cilantro, lime, etc....probably not spicy enough for Boagman.

                                    1. re: vtombrown

                                      Oh, I understood that, VTB. I would have ordered it as a starter, and continued from there. Dang. Really could have used that meal, too.

                              2. re: boagman

                                Finally made it to Cinco Lagos this eve. Much better than Don Pablos.

                                This place is uneven in many ways. Some of facility is stylish, while other aspects look cheap and out of place. The management takes great pride in the industry, but the floor staff could be matched by National Coney employees. Some of the food was worth the trip, while other portions were left on the plate.

                                Worth the trip: Carnitas Green Chile taco in corn tortilla ($3.75ea), done respectably, as post by Cheeeese said, above. Black beans with nothing added to them, and white rice with nothing added to it---both somehow extraordinarily done (incld). Mild fresh salsa had great flavor (incld), though the dark hot salsa was not as flavorful as I’d hoped.

                                Maybe worth the trip: Beef Barbacoa Mole taco ($4ea)--tender beef as said by Quit2Chef, decent mole, with that nice corn tortilla wrap. Chicken (bland) Green Chile enchilada—thick masa envelope, with funky runny House sour cheese. ($5.50ea, I believe).

                                Not worth it: Fish Taco ($4.25ea) was full of strong mayonnaise-y coleslaw, and served on a lame flour tortilla, with fish inside I think…and if there was fish, I would be guessing Mahi Mahi.

                                I finished the experiment with an “El Jefe Polcyn Margarita” ($9), which sent me home reasonably happy, not to mention guilt-free for at least having eaten fresh Real food at a fair price. If I go back, I’ll try the Carne Asada. If you go, please do take a moment to savor the simple elegance of the black beans and the rice.

                                Thank you for your guys' tips!

                                1. re: vtombrown

                                  How strange! Didn't know anything about your post, but I was finally able to make it to Cinco Lagos today myself, and I'd agree with you on some things, and disagree with you on others.

                                  About the staff: I was impressed. I fully admit that I'm a bit partial here, as they were willing to serve me a full half hour before they actually open. They're *still* not open for lunch, but they were willing to accomodate me. Ryan, the GM, really helped me out and was generally great about helping me navigate the menu (not everything was available to me, since the fryers were down due to my being before opening), and I was able to get a really good idea of what the place/food was like. My server, Brittany/Briteny/Not-Ms.-Spears-Thank-Heaven, was efficient, polite, and helpful, too. No complaints here.

                                  Of course, the main reason I'd gone was to try the pozole, and I really enjoyed it. The homily and pork were both there in abundance, and the broth had a nice flavor, too. Served with diced onion, tomato, and cilantro, I could have had a bowl of this for lunch, along with the chips and salsa, and been very satisfied.

                                  The chips and salsa that VTB mentioned were just okay. The "cooler" of the two was fine, but I guess I would have just enjoyed it more if it had been plain old pico de gallo. It wasn't far away from that, but the consistency of it being a salsa was different that I would have jumped for joy over. Both this and the "hotter" salsa were really, really tame, spice-wise, but I'm told that since they're made fresh every day, the spice level can vary. I can understand this. They were still decent, and I didn't have any problem putting down quite a few of them (I actually thought the chips were quite nice by themselves).

                                  I then had the tres tacos, one of each of the meats offered: pork, beef, and chicken, and they were served with rice and beans. I'm going to strongly disagree with VTB about the rice and beans, at least on this particular day: that's all they were, and there was nothing at all special about them. They certainly didn't "rise above" any created idea of what rice and beans are in my head, anyway. This is *not* a condemnation of them, however...I'm just not big into beans and Mexican rice. Had they not been served with the tacos, I wouldn't have missed them, nor batted an eye. If I can avoid getting them in the future by going a la carte, I will.

                                  I started with the pork taco, which was chock-full-o'-meat, to the point where at least two or three large chunks fell out of it in the process of eating it, yielding a pleasant result, since I had some left over, and I liked it. I had good-flavored pork in every bite that I did consume at the time, and the "extra" was welcome.

                                  I moved on to the beef-with-mole-sauce taco, and was very happy with that one. I'll again disagree (or am I?) with VTB and say that I thought the mole sauce really added a great flavor to the taco. I only ate half of this taco for two reasons: I had a big dinner planned for later in the day with a friend, and I also *really* wanted to save some of this beast for later on...I also asked for some extra mole sauce to go with it, and they generously provided it. I thought this taco was a standout, for sure.

                                  The chicken taco I barely touched, only trying a couple strands of chicken while there just to be sure that it wasn't dried out or anything. Again: I was saving room, and just couldn't eat it in good conscience at the time. Not that there's anything wrong with it (or with chicken, mind you), but I'm more intrigued by the other meats' preparations that I am with chicken, so it's no surprise that the chicken one was a low priority.

                                  So I had what appears to be a better experience than VTB, but I came at a non-busy time, and they accomodated me before they were really supposed to. Still, I really liked my tacos and the pozole, but the salsas that came with the chips were just okay, and the beans and rice weren't really worth the effort to eat them, though I did take some of them some.

                                  Next time I go, and there'll definitely be a next time, I'll order items as much as humanly possible a la carte, since beans and rice continue to make me roll my eyes. These aren't typical refried beans, by the way: they're still whole, so the texture is at least a bit different. And the rice wasn't that nasty yellow color that so many places end up turning up. It was pretty white, with a little tint. Aesthetically speaking, the beans and rice were better than I'm used to...taste-wise? Same as ever. Don't want 'em, don't need 'em.

                                  I really liked the service, and the decor didn't bother me. It's definitely a casual place, the bar's got a couple of televisions (Tigers game was on this afternoon), and with the $4 price point for the tacos in mind, next time I'll just have a couple of those and be plenty happy.

                                  As-is, I'm happy I went, and while it's still a decent hike for me to get there, it's a destination in Milford...now quite affordable. It is a *darn* shame that they don't do lunch yet...I have a feeling that when they do, it'll be a boon for them.

                                  Thumbs up from me.

                                  1. re: boagman

                                    I totally agree about the rice and beans in all Mexican restaurants.

                                    Sometimes no side dish is better than having a side dish. I have NEVER seen the worth of these dishes unless you are dirt poor and need every calorie you can get (which may be the origin) but are they necessary in the restaurants that are not catering to a poorer clientele?

                                    I know there was a big chunk of my life that was Kraft Mac and Cheese...but now that I am not that poor can't I expect some better side dishes?

                                    Mexico has a large swath of other much better side dishes that get ignored way too often.

                                    1. re: JanPrimus

                                      Nice write up Sir Boagman.
                                      But, c'mon you guys, isn't simply (exquisitely) done rice and beans kind of like good bread in Italian restaurants?
                                      PS---I didn't totally mean for "equal to National Coney service" to be an insult. I probably shouldn't have said that. But, I did have a bit of an axe to grind, given that I went on "kids eat free night, (from kids menu)" but didn't learn of it until I saw the sign while EXITING. Why didn't they give my family a kids menu??? (probably an honest oversight, but I was pissed because I walked in with a 4 yr old in my arms...hard to miss) They were nice local, young people working there. They didn't come to my table at all the right times, but they were perfectly welcoming and acceptable. I should be so lucky to get this service all the time.

                                      1. re: vtombrown

                                        I love a great simple rice...but I am looking towards the far east for that dish.

                                        Beans to be always need some help. I will look towards the pit masters for that.

                                        I am I think a pretty damn loyal Mexican food fan....but I have NEVER had beans or rice from ANY Mexican place that does a thing for me. Too me they are nothing but calories available, in the same way Wonder type bread comes with a lot of roadside BBQ.

                                        No offense....but I am not feeling it on ANY rice and bean front.

                                        1. re: JanPrimus

                                          How do you get the remaining enchilada sauce off your plate?

                                          1. re: vtombrown

                                            God gave you a tongue, didn't he, VTB? ;)

                                            1. re: vtombrown

                                              Easy...never order Enchilada's.

                                              Personally I don't like enchilada sauce..

                                            2. re: JanPrimus

                                              > I have NEVER seen the worth of these dishes

                                              Until dinner last Wed, I shared your sentiment. I pigged out at Pappadeaux
                                              (cajun seafood) ... and asked if they would substitute something, anything,
                                              for the fries. The server quickly rattled off a list of alternatives ... I was
                                              indecisive and told her, "surprise me, delight me."

                                              Dinner arrived with a side of rice & beans. I was very skeptical. It was
                                              wonderfully seasoned with a teenie bit of andouille and cajun spices. It'd
                                              eat just their rice & beans as an entree.

                                              My confession: Yes, I ate at a chain restaurant and I liked it. I've done it
                                              before. I'll do it again. Good seafood. Great service. The downside? It's,
                                              um, noisy. That's it. That's all I've got.

                                              > unless you are dirt poor and need every calorie you can get (which may
                                              > be the origin)

                                              Bingo. The quality of a protein is determined by its balance of amino
                                              acids ... the essential amino acids that our body cannot synthesize. Plant
                                              proteins are typically an incomplete load of the essential amino acids,
                                              unlike meat protein.

                                              The combo of red beans & rice provides a great balance of the essential
                                              amino acids (that we cannot synthesize).

                                              Probably more than you wanted to know, eh?

                                              1. re: rainsux

                                                I have no problem confessing my love for a chain or two. I will, to my dying day, openly declare my love for the fast food bliss that is (at least currently, anyway) Chick-Fil-A. I stinking *love* CFA, and can't get proper CFA here in Michigan. It's one of the things I always look for whenever I'm out of town. And please, please, please don't bother telling me about the Oakland University CFA crap...they shouldn't even be allowed to serve it there, since it's total lousiness. I'm honestly shocked that CFA allows them to have their name on it.

                                                The other chain I enjoy would be Pei-Wei, but that's for another thread, I suppose. All that to say that, while most chains do a whole lot wrong, there are the exceptions to the rule that do most things very, very right.

                                                1. re: boagman

                                                  Oh, no, I was thinking of trying to find the Oakland U CFA not long ago when I had a craving for some waffle fries. I guess I'll cross that possibility off my list.

                                                  1. re: gooddog

                                                    Do cross it off. The problem isn't with the CFA products themselves, no. They're probably the exact same things you'd get at normal CFA standalone restaurants. The problem, you see, is that this food is offered "cafeteria style" (at least when I went, it was), so there's just this sad line of sandwiches and fries that have been sitting out, getting colder and lousier, until you come along and take it to put them out of their collective miseries. I was bitterly upset about this, since CFA means, to me, fresh, fabulous food that *never* sits out, and I have no qualm with telling them to drop fresh food for me when I order it if I want it to burn the top of my mouth off.

                                                    Try doing that in a college cafeteria-style line. It's...just the worst kind of fate for any CFA product to end up in. CFA hell or something. Patently unhelpful workers, cold-'n'-lousy food, with none of the charm of the place. What's not to like, you know?

                                                    Like I said: CFA should withdraw their franchise rights here, if you could even call it that.

                                                2. re: rainsux

                                                  I should have clarified that meant Spanish rice and Refried Beans.

                                                  I have had some GREAT Cajun Bean and Rice dishes.

                                              2. re: vtombrown

                                                Yeah, I took the National Coney Island thing as a pretty *hard* slam. I'm not disputing that you don't have any axe to grind (though you could have asked for a bill adjustment on the way out the door, too), but the service I received was quite good. Not as good as I had at, say, Jeremy later on in the day, but we're talking about two *very* different venues for dining, there. And you do get what you pay for.