A bone to pick

Owner/chef “Cuy” serves up shrimp fajitas, rice and beans, and fish tacos among others. Here, he offers a nice hot plate of enchiladas.

Owner/chef “Cuy” serves up shrimp fajitas, rice and beans, and fish tacos among others. Here, he offers a nice hot plate of enchiladas.

Photo By David Robert

Fresh Mex

985 W. 5th St.
Reno, NV 89503

(775) 322-6866

I’ve been in search of the best taco in the Reno-Sparks area for a while now. I have gone all over, from dives and roach coaches to the pricey and spicy, and I frequently leave feeling completely grossed-out, if not vocally praying not to get food poisoning.

In my search, I have driven by Fresh Mex multiple times, not even noticing it. I think it’s because it’s located in such a busy intersection of town—Keystone and Fifth—an intersection I try to get through as quickly as possible.

I arrived at five minutes to 8 p.m. I didn’t realize they closed at 8, but they were nice enough to serve me while they turned off the open sign and closed the place down. The restaurant was clean, and the staff was friendly. While I waited for my jumbo burrito, I glanced at all the publicity they had received, mostly mounted news-clippings on the wall. I was surprised. I hadn’t heard much talk about this place, but according to all the articles on the wall, Fresh Mex is a big hit.

I took my burrito and ate it in my car as I didn’t want to make the staff wait for me to finish chewing while they tried to close up shop. I had a carné asada jumbo burrito for $6.75. I added avocado because it didn’t come with it, so the total was actually $7.25. The burrito was very good, even though it wasn’t what I would call “jumbo.” It was stuffed with plenty of meat, beans and rice ,and it had a nice, spicy kick from the homemade salsa. It tasted like chili de arból, and it was full of flavor with just the right amount of heat. I was glad that I added avocado, though.

The second visit wasn’t so good. It just goes to show that consistency is an important key to success in the restaurant biz, and I mean consistently good, not consistently bad. I ordered five carné asada tacos for $1.25 each. Fresh Mex claims these are “the best fresh tacos in town.” I’m not sure if I just caught them on a bad day, but these were not the best tacos in town. Not in this town, anyhow. The tortillas, onions, cilantro, salsa and radishes were perfect, but the meat was full of bone fragments and inedible connective tissue. I felt like a battlefield surgeon. Honestly, I couldn’t eat half of the meat. I’m not trying to cry over spilled milk here, but I feel this is a legitimate gripe. Connective tissue and bone fragments? If you are going to claim that your tacos are the best in town, then please, use some edible meat and not something you wouldn’t feed your dog—unless you hated it.

Well, enough negativity. The meat is my only complaint about Fresh Mex. The restaurant is overall decent. When you sit at a table, a waitress brings you chips and homemade pico de gallo. The service is good, the establishment is clean and sanitary, I just think the carné asada tacos need a little work, and maybe a scalpel. I’m not saying that this place is no good. I saw some other people enjoying their shrimp cocktails, and I am sure that, overall, the food is good and deserves another shot. Maybe next time I go to Fresh Mex, I will try something else besides the carné asada tacos.