The whole enchilada
Las Trojes5272 Sparks Blvd.
Sparks, NV 89436
Is it so bad to pig out at a suburban strip mall Mexican joint every now and then? It better not be, because I do it, you do it, everybody else does it, and we all know it. And if you decide on some random night in Sparks that the venue for this openly secret indulgence is to be Las Trojes Authentic Mexican Food, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it.
I’ve eaten at a zillion places like this, and sometimes I wonder—as an observation and not a criticism—if they all tap the same depositories of enchilada sauce, tortillas, refried beans, Spanish rice and robotically polite servers dressed to the nines and impervious to insult or ignorance from the customers. Everything my husband and I observed at Las Trojes on a recent weekend night—with our Sparksite friends Monica and Bart along for the game—only confirmed this suspicion, starting with the chips and salsa. The latter had that classic sweetish lean that usually doesn’t thrill me, but I beat it down with a few blasts of Tapatio.
It’s not Las Trojes’ fault that I ordered lazily and thus poorly. I should have internalized by now the simple lesson that there is no way to wrap cheese with flour and make it five star dining, but I wanted to try the sauce that comes with the cheese enchiladas ($8.25). As I might have guessed, the wraps themselves were boring, and nothing I did could rescue them. Maybe if I had ordered the fish tacos ($8.95), I would have had a brighter and more informative report.
Much better were my husband’s camarones a la diabla (spicy shrimp, $13.95), with the formulaic but flavorful sides of guacamole, refried beans, lettuce, and rice ready for piling into the tortillas. Our server made easy accommodation of the request for both the corn and flour varieties.
A famous sage once said that a pig is a filthy animal, but Bart digs on swine, and his pork carnitas ($10.95) were properly cooked, although not shredded as per our guest’s expectation. Sprite Monica was no match for the whole tamale combo ($10.95, with additional choice of enchilada and taco), but stomach capacity, not appreciation, was the limiting factor. Even as I picked at my dish, everyone else at the table—and the whole restaurant, for that matter—appeared to be getting on just fine.
University of Nevada, Reno students and employees might take note that my husband lost a challenge to fellow UNR faculty member Monica: As she suspected, this is in fact the same Las Trojes outfit that’s been feeding rushed students and staff from their kitchen in the Ansari business building for years, although you wouldn’t know it owing to the significant difference between what you get at this flagship restaurant and the simpler, fast food-style burritos and quesadillas you get on campus.
In other reviews of Mexican establishments, I’ve indicated a general preference for local hole-in-the-walls, and I suspect some would snicker at the “authentic” planted in the center of Las Trojes’ name. However, my spartan cheese enchiladas might have been a self-fulfilling prophecy of blandness that would color my judgment.
The bottom line is Las Trojes is a clean, fast and affordable—if Americanized—local Mexican option with the type of great service and comfort food that most conventional diners would have no shame admitting they want from time to time.