Big Time

Bartender Hector Ramos and owner Martin Ruelas of the friendly Mexican restaurant Casa Grande look ready for una fiesta.

Bartender Hector Ramos and owner Martin Ruelas of the friendly Mexican restaurant Casa Grande look ready for una fiesta.

Photo By Allison Young

Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

I have this bad habit of buying Living Social or Groupon type deals. Something just compels me to buy whatever they are advertising because it seems like such a great bargain. Who really needs vouchers for 10 undershirts in strange pastel colors or a box of live lobsters? Well, apparently I do. My latest buy was a deal for Casa Grande up on Robb Drive. This time I swore I would actually use the coupon before it expired so I invited my friend Brett to go with me to check the place out.

Casa Grande has an upscale Mexican restaurant style, going on with orange walls, stained concrete floors, ceramic tiles and large Mayan calendars. The back room is surrounded by windows with a beautiful tiled fountain in the middle. This would be a great restaurant to take a date to, not that I have time for dating, what with all the coupons I have to buy. More honestly, who wants to go on a date with someone who busts out coupons all the time?

A friendly waiter greeted us as amigos and led us to a small booth. We were there at a strange time so the place was nearly empty. Chips, salsa and beans were quickly brought out, along with large menus. We munched away on the chips and spicy beans and salsa while our house Margaritas ($5.95) were brought out. The Margaritas needed more tequila, but I did appreciate that they weren’t too sweet. The menu has a ton of choices ranging from burritos to menudo. I even saw octopus on the menu.

After much debate, I decided to go with the chimichanga del mar ($15.95). When the plate arrived, it didn’t look very appetizing. A seafood sauce covered the chimichanga that had a strange pinky brown soup-like texture. Undeterred, I dug in and was pleasantly surprised to find the chimichanga stuffed full of shrimp, scallops, crab and mushrooms. The sauce was actually quite tasty, but there was just too much of it on there. Also, I’m not sure the chimichanga was actually ever fried crisp as described on the menu, but it could be that the sauce just took any crispiness away. Regardless, this was a fine tasting meal. I especially enjoyed the shrimp as it had a nice grilled flavor to it.

Brett went with the steak tampiquena ($13.95), which is grilled skirt steak along with a chicken enchilada covered in mole sauce. The skirt steak was surprisingly tender and flavorful. The mole had a smoky flavor, and the enchilada was packed with chicken. The dish came with a small salad along with tortillas, so Brett got to work making some tiny skirt steak tacos with mole sauce. The tortillas were nice and thick, so I asked the waiter if they were made in house. Nope, turns out they are just the grocery store variety, but he added they do make sure to always get the thick ones. Well, I guess it’s working since I found them so tasty.

Overall, Casa Grande has decent food even if it’s not entirely authentic. The portions are large, and the restaurant is charming. Service throughout was attentive and friendly. Any staff member who noticed an empty plate or glass was quick to remedy it. Using my Living Social coupon was a bonus, but I don’t think I would have a problem coming here without one.