With turkey day in our rear-view mirror and none of us wanting to cook, my wife, daughter and I had a brief discussion on the subject of dinner. It didn’t take long to select the one cuisine on which our family can always agree: Mexican. Decision made, we headed out to try Los Potrillos Taqueria.
Although our first impression was positive—clean, friendly, decent amount of seating without being cramped—the room was barely warmer than the outdoors on this chilly winter night. It got a little better as we were joined by a few more patrons, but coats and hats stayed on throughout the meal.
After ordering at the counter, we helped ourselves to the customary tortilla chips and salsas. The green and red sauces tasted fresh, varying from mild to a bit of kick. A third sauce my daughter defined as “rusty orange” was almost certainly made with habanero chiles. A thicker sauce that really coated the chip, it had very good flavor up front with a serious amount of heat on the back. If jalapeños are too hot for you, skip this one.
We were soon warmed up as our entrees quickly arrived. My wife said her carnitas plate of rice, beans, and citrus-braised pork with hot corn tortillas really hit the spot, perhaps becoming her new favorite example of this classic dish ($8.99). The refried beans tasted fresh, and the rice was pretty standard, and though my wife disagreed, I felt there was too much salt in the carnitas.
My daughter chose to have carnitas stuffed into an enormous wet burrito, including whole pinto beans, rice, sour cream, pico de gallo, and a liberal amount of asadero cheese and green chile sauce ($8.49). Here the salt in the meat worked to the dish’s advantage. So many times I’ve been served burritos that were spicy, yet lacked seasoning. Of everything we tried I think this item had the best balance of flavors, and my daughter got at least two meals out of that pound-plus plate of food.
A chile relleno typically involves a cheese-filled poblano pepper, deep-fried with either batter or breading, served with a tomato-based sauce and maybe a sprinkle of cheese on top. The stuffed chile I ordered a la carte wasn’t as crisp as I always hope for, but the masa coating wasn’t ruined by being soaked in sauce. In fact, there was just a small dollop of red on top. And cheese? Lemme tell ya, this baby was really stuffed with asadero and then covered with even more melted cheese. Easily the cheesiest chile relleno I’ve had in recent memory ($2.49).
Though I considered ordering one of the many delicious-looking tortas—apparently a house speciality—I decided to skip the carbs and give the molcajete a try ($15.99). It’s hard not to be swayed by the promise of grilled steak, chicken, shrimp, chorizo, nopal cactus, green onion, radish, jalapeño, and cheese, served bubbling together with tart and spicy tomatillo green sauce in a heated bowl of volcanic rock.
At first glance, everything looked great. The vegetables were fresh, the cactus was a nice touch, and the chicken and sausage were tasty. However, the carne asada was a bit tough and included inedible gristle. Worse, the shrimp were seriously overcooked. Grilling shrimp shells-on is a good way to boost flavor, but it has to be done quickly or the shell bonds with the meat. I’ve enjoyed grilled “peel-and-eat” shrimp in the past, but this was like fighting a messy, losing battle while everyone watches you play with your food.
Ending on a sweet note, we sampled a dish of arroz con leche y pasas (rice pudding with currants, $2.99), featuring a creamy consistency and a healthy dose of cinnamon. Offering delivery and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with quick service, I’d definitely give these folks another shot. Perhaps in a warmer month.