Big deal

<i>Apretalados</i> is a dish of prawns and crab meat wrapped in crispy bacon.

Apretalados is a dish of prawns and crab meat wrapped in crispy bacon.

PHOTO/ALLISON YOUNG

Casa Grande is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Learn more at casagranderestaurant.com.

Casa Grande is an upscale Mexican-American restaurant—the kind of place with pleasant decor and seating for a birthday dinner, or with out-of-town guests who might not be down with the more authentic aspects of other taquerias. None of the dishes are terribly spicy, and you won’t find any “exotic” ingredients on the menu. The flavors presented are great, albeit tame. I’ll just get my hot and spicy pig guts, cow tongue and octopus elsewhere and let this restaurant excel at what it is, which it completely does.

A basket of corn tortilla chips was served with a smooth, medium-spicy salsa and warm, spiced bean dip. We killed the first round with haste and quickly received more frijoles and salsa. House margaritas ($9.95) were served with an ice-filled, classic welled glass, heavily rimmed with salt and accompanied by a wedge of lime. The cocktail itself was in an iced shaker, to be poured by the customer. I refilled that glass at least three times before the shaker ran dry.

A half order of apretalados ($14) showed up not long after ordered. The dish is comprised of prawns and crab meat wrapped in crispy bacon atop a plentiful bed of sauteed bell pepper, onion and mushroom, with melted jack cheese, sliced avocado and pico de gallo. The half order is more than enough for four people as an appetizer. I munched on the zesty veggies long after the pig and shrimp were gone.

Entrees arrived just as fast as our appetizer and cocktails, starting with my friend’s enchiladas suiza ($15), a pair of chicken enchiladas doused in a sauce of fresh tomatillo, green pepper and onion and served with a side of sour cream, lettuce and tomato. It came with refried beans and rice on the side. The shredded chicken was moist, and the fruity, savory sauce did the trick. The beans were excellent, though the bland rice (with corn) wasn’t my favorite.

A plate of beans and rice with barbacoa ($15)—large chunks of beef marinated in red chile sauce then slow-steamed until tender—was also everything you’d expect and want from the dish. My big “Muy Especial” plate ($19) was indeed pretty special. A pounded-thin piece of marinated chicken breast, carne asada and large prawns were flame broiled and served with several whole mushrooms sauteed in butter, garlic and spices, with plenty of guacamole, pico de gallo, and beans and rice on the side. A dish of spiced, drawn butter was provided for dipping. The flavors of all three proteins were distinct and complementary. I wished I’d had even more of the large mushrooms. It was a memorable dish.

Having said that, the next time I visit, I’ll definitely order my friend’s choice of camarones culichi ($16), a beautiful sea of tail-free shrimp cooked with sliced mushroom, garlic and butter, and smothered in poblano chile and creamy, cheesy Sinaloa-style culichi sauce. The sides of rice and a salad of romaine, avocado, cheddar and tomato with lime cilantro dressing were an afterthought to the main event. That heart-stopping, delicious sauce was something to be appreciated—not terribly spicy but fantastically savory.

We were too full to attempt dessert, although we hung out chatting, laughing, drinking and munching on the dregs until the place closed. The food is tasty, the service is great, and you can comfortably bring the whole family.