January 22, 2008 by epbush
Now that I have your attention…
My father has embarked on an expedition to find the best Mexican Restaurant in Gainesville Georgia. My family joined him yesterday to try restaurant #1: El Maguey. As always, I’ll review the food, atmosphere, price and service, but this little joint has a pretty interesting premise for it’s name, so I want you to hear all about it. Can I have the attention of the class?
The menu, which may be the most full listing of foods I have ever seen at a Mexican place, says this on the cover:
For the NAHUATL culture, El maguey was a divine creation that represented MAYAHUEL a goddess who had four hundred breasts that fed her four hundred children. Mayahuel was married to Petacatl, who represented certain plants that helped in the fermentation of pulque, causing that drink to acquire magical powers.
Well, that’s intriguing.
The decor of the place could be described as “been here a while.” The branch of El Maguey we checked out is in a strip mall on Browns Bridge Road. The place is like a lot of Mexican restaurants, made to look like a little peasant village inside. The service was kind but in no hurry, and uses the old-fashioned little-green-notepad order tickets.
Now, onto the food: Wow, that’s a big menu. When wearing a toddler, it’s hard to choose between the 25 combinations plates, close to a dozen ways to have steaks and quesadillas and enchiladas and burritos… and salads. The family ordered a big cross section of foods from the menu, and there were some winners and losers:
El Maguey Sampler: this appetizer had everything I loved about Mexican food, Hot melty cheese goodness, seasoned meats of many kinds, soft tortias and pico de gallo.
Burrito Cancun: This was my order. It’s a toasty burrito filled with shrimp. The tortia, under that layer of queso, was perfectly crispy and the flavor was light and fresh. Did I wad up my diet and throw it under the table? Oh, yes.
Mom’s black beans: Mom got a Quesadilla Ranchera, and that came with a side of black beans topped with pico de gallo. The flavor was rich but light. I just wish I had a spoon to have eaten them with.
Guacamole: Very fresh. Very good.
Quesadilla Ranchera: Too soggy. The thing has a filling that tasted good, but there was a bit too much wet oniony filling and too little cheese. If just flopped off the plate.
Caesar Salad: that was so NOT Caesar dressing. It was… sweet. And the lettuce was wilted. NOT recommended.
All in all, the food was pretty good, but not outstanding, and the price was fair. I am glad we are going to continue on a quest for great Mexican in Gainesville. I’ll keep you posted.
However, I would like to hear about how you judge a Mexican restaurant. Do you check a new place out by ordering a certain dish? Do you ask for the “specialty of the house?” Tell me!