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Vol. 8, No. 38
Sept. 21-27, 2000
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Three Spicy Squares at Fiesta Bar & Grill

As Joe Lieberman says, isn’t America great? Here’s one more proof. Fiesta Bar & Grill makes it worth your while to go to Calvert County to eat Mexican.

Located on busy Route 2-4 between Dunkirk and Huntington, Fiesta Bar & Grill is small — seating about three dozen — and unpretentious. You’ve got to look alert to keep from speeding past its small strip mall, and — if you care as much about ambiance as eating well — you might be tempted to keep on driving.

If, on the other hand, you delight in good food where ever you find it, flick on your turn signal (right if you’re coming from the north) and pull on in. Arizona born and raised owner-chef Tony Schubert — who’s of Mexican descent despite his name — has treats in store, whether you eat in or carry out.

Sure your destination is a double-wide shop in a strip mall. Still, a nicely planted pocket garden helps you feel you’ve arrived somewhere special. When the weather is nice, you can eat al fresco at a couple of picnic tables. Inside, Fiesta Bar & Grill tries hard to be festive, with piñatas provided by Corona and Tequiza, but it’s pretty basic: uncovered tables and hard chairs and benches bolted into ensemble fast-food outlet style.

Unlike Annapolis’ long-running Mexican Cafe, Fiesta hasn’t yet become a landmark on the discovery trail of out-of-the-way ethnic eateries. That means there’s seldom a wait — except Friday evenings or while your breakfast, lunch or dinner is cooked to order.

Start with sangria ($2.25) or a good margarita ($4, with $2 specials Monday and Friday) with your choice of 27 tequilas. Beer drinkers will find plenty of domestic and import beers ($2.25-$3.25), with an icy bucket of six small Buds for $5 and nightly specials. Thursdays choose from 12 kinds of Mexican beer for $; Mondays Coronas are the same price.

Portions are big, so tortilla chips and chunky, fresh-taste salsa, the pride of the house, ($2.50) are a start you won’t regret. If you don’t mind filling up before dinner, or if you prefer grazing, you could choose homemade guacamole ($5.95); nachos ($6.95); chili con queso ($3.95) jalapeno poppers with — here’s a nice variation — jalapeno jelly for dipping ($4.95). Out of theme, there are skins, rings or hot wings ($4.95 & $5.95).

When we asked to spice things up, our waitress brought a six pack of assorted hot sauces — four of the six very hot habanero — plus a bottle of Tobasco.

The menu is extensive but not expensive: the highest priced meal — shrimp fajitas — costs less than $12; everything else is under $10. You’ll find all the usual Tex-Mex favorites: tacos (chicken or beef, $6.95); taco salad (beef or chicken, $6.95); burritos ($5.95-$7.95) chimichanga ($6.45); enchiladas — cheese ($6.25), chicken or beef ($7.45) and Chesapeake ($9.95); fajitas (steak or chicken or beef with all the trimmings, $9.45). For special appetites, you’ll find children’s meals ($2.95 and $3.95) and some attractive vegetarian choices. Our vegetarian enjoyed Santa Fe black bean soup ($2.95) with a veggie burrito ($6.95).

For cheese heads are quesadillas plain ($4.95), chicken ($5.95) and — very savory — Chesapeake, with chunks of shrimp, and crab and bits of bacon and mushroom ($7.95). Of course, nearly everything on the menu is stuffed or topped with cheese.

If you’d rather eat green, try a house salad or a Southwestern chicken Caesar, for a hearty version of a favorite that, believe it or not, originated in Tiajuana.

If you’d rather eat north of the border, you can choose big juicy burgers with a nice choice of toppings, including the Fiesta ($5,45) sandwiches or wraps. Add tasty fries with the peel on for $.95.

Over several lunches and dinners, we’ve tried and enjoyed most of the menu, giving special kudos to Chesapeake quesadillas and Texas chili (small bowl, $3.95), made here as we do.

But the best discovery came this weekend, over Saturday morning breakfast. Skipping the pastry case and the usual omelets (Denver or Spanish, $6.25) and eggs with ham, bacon or sausage ($4.95), we went for what we’d come for: heuvos rancheros ($4.95). They were just what we’d hoped for: two eggs sunny side up riding a tortilla and topped with spicy salsa and sided with chunky hash browns. They were delicious — though one of us thought the sauce too heavy and would have preferred refried beans. Finishing every bite, we didn’t need to eat again till dinner. The third in our party, choosing a breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs, sausage, onions, peppers — hold the cheese, $4.95) served with hash browns couldn’t eat the whole thing. Our choice of light or dark coffee ($.95) was strong and good. It’s fresh ground each day

As usual, with good drinks and tasty, hearty portions, we sat longer than hard seats should allow.

Fiesta Bar & Grill
7922 Southern Maryland Blvd. Owings 301/855-0519

Proprietor: Anthony Schubert
Reasons to go: Good Tex-Mex in Calvert County.
Something to think about: If you’re coming from the south, you’ll have to make a U-turn at the light at Chaneyville Rd.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly