Monday, May 17, 2010

Los Tapatios

Name: Los Tapatios
Location: 11 Washington Avenue, Endicott, NY 13760
Phone: (607) 785-3544‎
Cuisine: Mexican
Attire: Casual
Price: $25.00 (normal check for party of 2)

It is fitting that Los Tapatios is the first restaurant we'll review on this site, since it is probably the one we've visited most often, due to a combination of good food at a great price. It should be known there are actually two locations of Los Tapatios, one in Endicott, and the other on Bunn Hill Road across from the Binghamton University campus. I am partial to the ambiance of the Endicott location, plus it is far from the bustle of the Vestal Parkway, hence that's the one I'll be specifically reviewing. But they are more or less the same.

Tapatios is a no-frills Mexican restaurant that offers good, albeit not spectacular, food at a low price. The place is unassuming from the outside but is kind of homey on the inside, with a bar along the left side of the restaurant, and two columns of booths off to the right. In the back there are a couple longer tables available for larger parties. The dim lighting provides an intimate atmosphere. The wait staff is generally friendly and quick, although there have been a few times we've had to wait a while for our check after finishing our meal. Likely, this is more due to the fact that they only have a couple servers working at a time than anything else. And it's usually not a real concern at all.

For starters, each table is given a basket of warmed tortilla chips and a bowl of salsa. Both are pretty much par for the course. The salsa is homemade and tends to vary a little bit day to day. Sometimes the tomatoes are chunkier, sometimes it's spicier than others. Throw a little salt on the chips and you're good to go, but be careful not to spoil your meal by eating too many chips. It's been done before. At any rate, for free chips and salsa, this is a nice start to the meal.

There are several options for appetizers (nachos and the like), but the chips and salsa more than suffice. One thing you might want as a "starter," so to speak, would be one of their margaritas, which they consider a house specialty. I've had a margarita there a few times and they were good, but somewhat unremarkable. They also have a selection of bottled beer, including some Mexican varieties such as Dos Equis, and my personal favorite, Negra Modelo. They have a limited selection of wine as well, in addition to the usual soft drinks.

Entree-wise, they have a wide selection of traditional Mexican fare, including tacos, enchiladas, burritos, chiles rellenos, taquitos, and many others. There are 30 or so different "combination dinners" you can choose from that enable you to pick several of these options at once. I've often gotten the #29, consisting of two enchiladas, a taco, and rice and beans. It's decent fare, but nothing to get too excited about. Most of the combo dinners will run you about $8.

Past the numbered meals, they have a list of 15 or so "house specialties," including the Taquitos Mexicanos, which Megan usually orders. Certainly she will have more to say regarding that. Myself, I think the real draw of Los Tapatios is the fajitas ($11-$13), also on the "specialty" menu. They have a few options as far as fajitas go. You can get normal chicken or beef fajitas, mixed fajitas which combine the two, and a dish they call Fajitas Tejanas which adds shrimp to the mix as well. Lately (at the Endicott location at least) they've been offering carnitas as an option as well, which is a slow-roasted pork. This is what I've been ordering lately every time. It has become my favorite option on the menu. The fajitas come with a sizzling plate of onions/peppers/tomatoes/whatever meat option you chose, a side plate with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole, and rice and beans. They also give you a couple tortillas to build your fajitas, and there are a variety of Mexican hot sauces available on every table. Warning: they are actually hot and not for those who like just a "little spice." The portion size you get is prodigious, to say the least. Most people probably eat about half of what they give you and take the rest home. I'm a bit more of a glutton, and am usually able to polish off the whole thing. Usually I end up somewhat regretting it later, but I digress... the fajitas are quite good. Sometimes the shrimp can be a little fishy-tasting when I've ordered the Tejanas, and sometimes the vegetables can get a little too soggy or a little charred, but these are minor quibbles. I always enjoy the fajitas--they keep me coming back time and time again.

Desserts? After the fajitas it's time to wheel me out of the place on a stretcher, or so I often feel. But for those who make it that far, they have some usual Mexican favorites like fried ice cream and flan. I can't speak to the quality of these choices, as the entrees always fill me up!

In summary, Los Tapatios provides pretty good bang for your buck. The chips and salsa make for a good start, while the entrees are pretty average Mexican fare, with the fajitas being an above-average option--bring your appetite! Service is usually good and it is rare to have to wait for a table unless you go at peak dinner time. The price is right with all entrees being in the $7 to $14 range. I give Los Tapatios a solid recommendation.

Grade: B

Los Tapatios on Urbanspoon

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