A good direction

Unpretentious, hearty and super tasty, Los 4 Vientos is what authentic Mexican food should be.

Unpretentious, hearty and super tasty, Los 4 Vientos is what authentic Mexican food should be.

Photo By David Robert

Los 4 Vientos

145 Casazza Dr.
Reno, NV 89502

(775) 348-1490

Even if you speak Spanish, the name isn’t particularly revealing. Los 4 Vientos, which translates literally as “The Four Winds” or idiomatically as “All Directions,” doesn’t make any conspicuous proclamations that it’s an authentic Mexican restaurant. It’s one of those places where it’s sort of a privilege to be in the know, and had I not been given the recommendation by photo editor David Robert, I would have remained eternally out of the loop.

My friend Bob and I met there for lunch at 2 p.m. on a Saturday. The place was lively. Ample seating and a big picture menu ensured that you could easily find a spot to sit and have no problem picking a meal.

As Bob and I pondered the menu, the woman at the register stepped into the kitchen and came back with a confident-looking gentleman. Bob and I assumed the woman didn’t speak English, and she probably supposed we didn’t speak Spanish. I could have managed some rusty Spanglish had I needed to. The gentleman, who appeared to be the owner, promptly said, “Did you know what you would like to order?” followed by an earnest smile.

“I’ll have the chile relleno y dos horchatas, por favor,” I said. The two horchatas ($1.50 each) weren’t both for me. Bob also likes the sweet and icy cold cinnamon-seasoned rice water.

Being the reporter, I was in charge of ordering, so I asked for the number 23, the fish quesadilla.

We were given a basket of fresh tortilla chips of varying shapes and sizes with a cup of pico de gallo salsa. The salsa was, dare I say, one of the best I’ve tasted. There was a prominent spicy jalapeño flavor, and the onion tang was mild, which is often not the case with this popular Mexican salsa. It was the perfect combination of all the requisite flavors and then some.

Bob’s quesadilla ($6) was unlike any I’ve seen before. Stuffed with fried cod pieces, cheese, lettuce and an entire fruit’s worth of avocado, it was hearty, fairly wholesome and fantastic. It had a mild flavor that Bob spiced up with the accompanying red salsa.

The chile relleno ($6) was—ready for a surprise?—exceptional. I’ve never had the cheese-stuffed pepper topped with cooked vegetables, and now I wouldn’t want it any other way. The green chile was medium sized, and the fried egg-batter coating was not nearly as greasy as I’ve often encountered. It was topped with cooked onions and peppers in a tomato base. It seemed healthy, and I never thought I’d put that word in a sentence with “chile relleno” before. I ordered the meal as a combo, so it came with rice and beans. There were four steaming corn tortillas wrapped in a checkered washcloth between the ceramic plate and the wicker serving basket underneath. It was a complete meal.

Los 4 Vientos is the first “authentic” Mexican restaurant I’ve been to that offers flavor combinations that are truly gourmet in an atmosphere that is as unpretentious as an elementary school cafeteria. It’s what authentic should be. No wonder it was still packed when we left around an hour later.