Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Señor Tequila's Mexican Grill in Naples

Our night at Señor Tequila's had a comedy of minor errors, enjoyable music, and properly cooked, yet unremarkable Mexican food. I went with some seasoned Spanish speaking Mexican mavens, the Right RevrendAndy and Mrs Rev, a couple who not only love Mexican food, they chose to honeymoon in Mexico to be with the cuisine and the culture. I arrived early and said I was with the party of 3 or 4 people for a 6:30 reservation. The hostess looked, and said the only reservation at that time was for a party of six. I was bewildered, however it turned out she thought I said party of six, not "3" or "4". A minimal miscommunication, however it was one of a few too may in the evening.It's hidden off Collier Blvd/ 951, a few blocks north of Golden Gate Parkway, in a strip mall hidden way behind a a sign for Velocity, and southwest of Inca's Kitchen. There's muted yellow walls, leather seats, a few nice murals and colorful accents. The bar is at the back, with a wide variety of Tequilas. The best part? Guitarist Frankie Ray and Maryellen are very entertaining. The food is ok Mexican- the spicing is adjusted down for Anglo's blander taste, not as authentic as it could have been. My midwestern friends love the place. About 90% of the clientele is repeat Anglos, and very few Mexicans or Hispanics. They've had a good business for just over a year catering well to their largely Midwestern American clientele's tastes. The seafood overall is properly cooked, but just "missing something" on nearly every dish.

I ordered a lemonade without ice, and it came with ice. Back it went. Next place I'm in, I'll try "sin hielo." The margaritas were a bit too far on the sweet side, and could not be adjusted, as a standard mix is used.
The ceviche de pescado ($11.50) has finely chopped fish mixed with tomatoes, onions, and too little peppers
to give any real heat, and too little lemon or lime to give enough tartness to the dish. it was missing moisture, lime and salt and pepper. That's a lot to miss. This lack of Mexican pizzazz or flavor was typical of most of the dishes we ordered. (For superb ceviche, go a block away to Inca's Kitchen, for the Peruvian style).
The Campechana cocktail (12.50) has octopus, shrimp and oysters in a mild broth. I liked how the food was
properly cooked, as the octopus was especially tender. Nicely done! It needed some heat to taste like seafood we've had on Mexico's coasts. Mrs. Rev added some salsa and lime juice, and that perked it up.
We enjoyed the beef fajitas (15), a hot platter of strips of marinated beef, bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. Nice soft tortillas, and good beans and rice made for a filling platter.
The tacos al carbon (11) were also enjoyable, with three marinated then grilled corn tortillas topped with broiled flank steak,
and served with pico de gallo, a grilled jalapeno (nice!) and slivered white cheese on top.

The chile relleno ($12) strangely was completely smothered with melted cheese. That's a no-no. Ideally, it's a
large green chili stuffed with cheese or ground beef and cheese, dipped in egg batter, then fried and served crisp. They are "judged' on the quality of this crispness. Well, this may have been crisp at some point, however after the heavy handed cook slathered it with melted cheese, there was no hint of any welcoming "crunch". Not authentic. Not good. And it should be "chili", not "chile" when featured in the US and Mexico. Chile is used for the South American country. In Europe, Britain and other places, "chile" "chillie' and other uses are common.

The signature Globitos de Mariscos ($16) was properly cooked but bland. Its fish, octopus, scallops and some
vegetables are steamed in tin foil. I clearly ordered it as my entree, the server nodded at me, and when it didn't come with the other entrees, it had to be re-ordered, wasting fifteen minutes.

There were quite a few other miscommunications, so be doubly sure your are understood by the staff. They are friendly and helpful, however you may want to try your rusty Spanish on them.
The two musicians, Frankie Ray and Maryellen, sing a variety of songs it's-worth getting a table close to them.
I've not had really good truly authentic Mexican food in Naples. There's still some tiny spots out East Trail to try. I do like Maria's in Bonita Springs.

The restaurant's live entertainment is Monday through Thursday from 6-9:30 p.m., following the weekday happy hour from 3-6 p.m.
11965 Collier Blvd., 352-1242


Adam B. said...

This is the absolute worst mexican restaurant i've ever eaten at. It was the worst service i've had ever at a restaurant (not even kidding). It took 1 1/2 hours to get our food and the place was near empty. This is the Senor Tequila's in Bonita Springs. The place was filthy - can't believe I sat in there and actually waited that long for food. After bringing the situation up to the manager, nothing was done. i'm not asking for a free meal or anything but come on. this is a new place in town - make sure the customers have a good experience.

Alto2 said...

I have to agree with Adam B. Senor Tequila's food was forgettable at best. Blech. Before it changed owners, El Paisano in Bonita was terrific; now it's just scary.

Jim W. said...

Totally disagree with Adam. Obviously he has a bone to pick with this place. It was full of people (in September of all times) and was far from dirty. Our food was served within 10-15 minutes of ordering. Our experiences have been great. Now, either they were really horrible in May or someone ticked you off but I'm picky and it was a far cry from your posting.

Alto2, El Paisano has never really been good and has put a whole new meaning to dirty... and that includes its early days. We used to call it "El Pissiano."