Bay Bites
Every Meal a Fiesta at Mexican Café
by Gabby Crabcakes

When it comes to Mexican restaurants, there are those establishments geared to mass markets with lots of sizzling plates of fajitas, enormous bars, brilliant neon and frozen margaritas the size of sombreros. Then there are the smaller, less glamorous eateries. With the latter, the risk tends to run higher, but the benefit can be exponentially rewarding. Mexican Café meets this challenge.

Located just off busy Bay Ridge Avenue, Mexican Café is small -- about nine booths and six two-tops -- and unadorned, with most of the decorations provided by Jose Cuervo and Dos Equis. During peak hours, there is almost always a wait, and with no reception area you can end up dodging and weaving the fast-paced wait staff. When the weather is nice, there are a half-dozen picnic tables in front of the restaurant. If you don't mind people parking within arm's length of your table and the scavenger kittens (depending on your view, either quaintly or beggarly annoying) it's a nice option for al fresco dining.

Once you are seated, the pace is relaxed and friendly. Start with one of their potent margaritas - on the rocks, salt optional. At $4.25 it's a deal and should keep you sipping for a good while. Be forewarned: don't drink recklessly, these babies pack a punch! If margarita's aren't your passion or your poison, there are domestic and import beers ($2.25-$3.25), sangria by the glass or pitcher ($2.25 or $9.25), and Mexican sodas ("Jarritos," $1.65). A complimentary basket of warm, home-made tortilla chips and house salsa start you off, with a nice offering of hot sauces on the table to spice things up.

The menu is extensive but not expensive: the highest priced meal costs less than $10. You'll find Mexican favorites like nachos (plain, beef or supreme, $3.50-$5.95), taco salads (beef or chicken, $5.99), fajitas (chicken or beef with all the trimmings, $9.95), and the Mexican platter (one beef corn taco, two cheese enchiladas topped with chili and sour cream and one soft flour taco, $7.99). There is a separate listing for vegetarian dinners (e.g. vegetarian burrito, $6.95) and children's meals (e.g. taco and drink, $2.45).

A traditional Mexican dish and house specialty is the whole avocado stuffed with chicken and cheese, battered and deep fried ($7.99). Although it contains some of my favorite foods, I'll stick with the chicken mole.

Referred to in my family as Mexican barbecue, chicken mole is my personal favorite: chicken breast simmered in sauce of chiles, almonds, sesame seeds and ancho pepper, served with two tortillas, $7.99. I have ordered this dish in many restaurants and have never found the same presentation twice, but this rendition is by far my favorite. Sometimes, to push the envelope, I order a side of guacamole ($3.50) to dollop in my tortilla with the tasty chicken-Q. I have yet to finish a full portion!

Take your time. Eat your chips and sip your drink. Breakfast (a new offering), lunch or dinner at Mexican Café is a fiesta.


Mexican Café
975 Bay Ridge Road
Annapolis, MD 21401

410/626-1520 (No reservations.)

Proprietor: Pam Gladfelter-Bell

Reasons to go: Good, inexpensive, fun food without any pretenses. Olé!

Something to think about: Up-tight Felix Ungers may have a difficult time digesting the casual atmosphere and care-free presentation.

| Issue 4 |

VolumeVII Number 4
January 28 - February 3, 1999
New Bay Times
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