Sunday, August 2, 2009


I have craved Mexican food.

We haven’t had Mexican food since the Big Mike’s (as in Mike and Joan Dannenberg) Breakfast Burrito at Sarah’s in Billings, Montana. Yes, there were Mexican restaurants at both of our stops in Oregon, but I wanted to wait until we arrived in California. And, lucky for us, there are two Mexican restaurants within five minutes of our campground. After a quick recommendation check with our campground hosts, we were off to Tortilla Flats.

I have been in many a Mexican restaurant and am accustomed to a somewhat flamboyant décor. But nothing to rival this. There was no surface not covered with colorful decorations from a chili pepper wind sock (left in photo on right) to plastic red and green peppers to miles of garland. Add to this piped in Mexican music and your first inclination is to shout “Olé!”

Our server brought us the requisite basket of tortilla chips and bowl of salsa along with our menus. I knew what I wanted so only scanned the menu looking for chili rellenos. The only way I could order one was as part of a combination plate with an enchilada (choice of ground beef, shredded beef, chicken, or cheese filling) and beans and rice. Chuck spent more time reading every page and finally settled on two appetizers – an order of the chicken taquitos and an order of jalapeño poppers.

We munched on our (not so good) chips and salsa. The salsa was the thick and cooked version that is not my favorite (I prefer the fresh pico de gallo style) but was spicy from peppers and redolent with cilantro. So while it was cooked and thick, I still enjoyed it.

Our meals came.

Now Chuck did not test the capabilities of the kitchen with his order. The poppers came with a dipping sauce that seemed to be a combination of ranch dressing and jalapeños and was a new accompaniment for poppers. The taquitos came with pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole. Lucky me. Chuck does not like guacamole so that portion of his meal moved from his plate to mine.

My chili relleno/enchilada combo plate came with a cup of soup – either the chicken rice or my choice, which I think was called chicken tortilla. Whatever it was called, I call it yummy. Full of shredded chicken and crunchy vegetables in a thick tomato tasting base, the highlight was the melted stringy cheese that was ran throughout the base. This was a very generous (size wise) cup of soup and a whole bowl of it would have been a good meal.

But my meal did arrive. The rice was dry and bland – definitely not a winner. The beans were a mixture of pureed beans and whole or part beans – just the way I like Mexican restaurant refried beans. I started with the chili relleno, which according to the menu would be stuffed with feta cheese. Now I was not sure about feta and chili relleno – that did seem like two worlds colliding. But instead of feta, the Anaheim chili was stuffed with stringy Mexican white cheese, and I admit to not being disappointed. The chili was bonfire hot and lightly battered with a batter that stayed crisp even when topped with sauce and cheese. Since I like chili relleno made with a hot chili, this to me was perfect.

I probably should have started with the enchilada. After the chili relleno, the shredded beef enchilada seemed bland and tasteless. (Did I burn away my taste buds with the hot Anaheim chili?) The corn tortilla was too thick and chewy and the shredded beef was under seasoned.

My evaluation is based on my meal alone. How do you score jalapeño poppers and taquitos? I give the soup and chili relleno 4.5 Addies and the enchilada 2.0 Addies for a final score of 3.5 Addies.

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