Los Mariachis

By Candace Nelson - 8:00 AM

If there's a Mexican restaurant synonymous with WVU students, it's Los Mariachis. It's really the typical staple Tex-Mex restaurant in Morgantown, and on any given night, you will see WVU students sipping on their classic margaritas.

As I've said many times, Mexican food isn't my thing. Maybe it's because I've never had true, authentic Mexican cuisine, or maybe it's because I don't really like spicy things. Maybe it's because the menu confuses me beyond belief (everything is meat inside a tortilla?). But I am always willing to learn and try and try again.

One of my good friends (who happens to be Mexican), Kaitlynn, has a love affair with Los Mariachis. We decided to go there one Wednesday afternoon in celebration of her birthday. I've been here dozens of times, and I am okay with it. So, we ventured over to Chelsea Square on Van Voorhis. I do like that it's on the Evansdale campus, so parking isn't necessarily an issue. There's a large sign that says "Los Mariachis," and I've, surprisingly, never had a wait.  This time, though, the interior had a makeover. It wasn't bright reds and oranges and painted cacti on the benches and walls. It classed up a bit. The seats were redone with more cushion in a dark, discreet color. The color was left to a few simple wall decorations, instead of splattered everywhere. I was happy to see this change, as the restaurant looks less tacky.

As soon as we were seated, we placed our drink orders and looked through the menu. We were immediately brought a basket of tortilla chips and salsa - I love restaurants that include the complementary appetizer. I was hungry, so I chowed down. The sauce isn't hot, though you can ask for hot, and Kaitlynn got a side of the queso - which is creamy and delicious. For my main course, I knew I would get some sort of sampler, because I don't actually know what I like. Kaitlynn opted for a "pollo can crema," her absolute favorite dish. It is chicken strips cooked in sour cream sauce (queso) and served with rice, beans and tortillas. She knows her Mexican food and loves this dish - that should be enough for you.

I, on the other hand, ordered the "Grande Special." It included a chalupa, chile relleno, enchilada, beef taco, burrito, rice and beans. I should have known this would've been enough to feed a family, as I ordered something similar at Mariachi Loco, but like I said, I don't know what I like there, so I got a little of everything. On the front of the menu, it says to order the "Special Dinner" to try a little of everything. It includes everything that I got, except it swaps out a burrito for a tamale. Well, I know I'm not a fan of tamales (too thick, doughy), so I switched it up just a tad with the dish that included a burrito.

On the back of the menu, it lists what each dish is, but I'm usually too stupid before I order to realize it's there, and I only realize it after I've placed my order. I should really learn this for next time...

Anyway, our food was out scary fast. And the service is perfection. I think I needed two refills within 10 minutes, and our waiter was on it. The food came out, piping hot, and I had a miniature buffet in front of me. I started pointing to things and having Kaitlynn tell me what they were, but I just decided I should try them.

I knew the taco, corn tortilla with meat - not too impressive, I could do this myself. The meat was so-so, and the hard tortilla was boring - where's the cheese, lettuce, tomato? The chalupa was also on the same plate - it's open-faced, and the guacamole and lettuce were everywhere, so I didn't even know there was a tortilla under that at first. It was loaded with guacamole - a little too much for me. It all was a little soggy, but it tasted fine. Not too impressed so far. I took some refried beans and rice from my other plate over to this one to add some more flavor. Then, it started to taste better. I liked the flavors of everything, I just wasn't blown away yet. The chile relleno was the last thing on this plate - and I really liked it! I thought a chile relleno was a stuffed pepper, basically. But this was like a little meat pie, with some cheese and a piece of pepper. It was very tasty, and I was pleasantly surprised. I really got hit with some flavor, finally, with the meat and cheese and little bite with the pepper.

On to the next plate. This one had the rice and beans - I know that much. It must've also had the enchilada and burrito. I wish I could tell these two apart, but they both tasted similar.I believe the Enchilada was covered in the red sauce, which was tasty. And the burrito was in a cheesy/onion sauce, which was also good. They were both just tortillas with some ground beef inside. But for being simplistic, they were tasty. I scooped some of my rice and beans on the burrito and enchilada for some variety (maybe you're supposed to do this?) because then it was really hitting the marks. Maybe I do like Mexican food - I just need to mix all the stuff they give me together. But it's still ground beef, beans and a tortilla. But it was pretty good, for what it is. It's not my first choice to go to, but for TexMex food, I can dig Los Mariachis.

For dessert, we split a fried ice cream. Who doesn't love fried ice cream? It even sounds cool. It's basically a giant ball of vanilla ice cream with crunchy, fried sweetness on the outside, topped with whipped cream, chocolate and strawberry syrup, all sitting in a tortilla-like shell. I really like the crunchiness on the outside of the ice cream paired with the creamy inside. This is a big dessert, Kaitlynn and I barely finished it. It's a nice sweet dessert to top off the dinner, and it's fried ice cream - who doesn't like that?

Los is a good place to get Mexican cuisine in Morgantown. It's a staple for every college student. And though I didn't get a pitcher of margaritas this time, they're usually necessary with every meal. A pitcher will run you a little bit. But, one pitcher will be worth it. For both of our meals, our bill came to $30, not too shabby.

Grade: B
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