Oh my lordy, I’ve been terrible about posting lately. In my defense, work has been busy, personal life has been busy.
Here we go, though.
There is a (relatively) new Mexican restaurant in town called La Reyna, and I’d heard really good things about it from friends, so the gang and I checked it out last night.
1. Ambience: pretty typical Mexican, a notch above “hole in the wall” but not luxurious by any means. I wasn’t crazy about the clear vinyl table covers. When you go in, the restaurant is to the left and the bodega (shop) is to the right. There was no one stationed at the entryway, but they weren’t busy, and someone acknowledged us quickly and seated us.
Ambience score: 3/5
2. Chips/salsa: we received them quickly. The salsa was very good—strong fire-roasted and tomatillo notes. It was definitely spicier than an average salsa (in Iowa anyway). Denny thought it was a little too spicy. I disagree, except that we didn’t get any water right away, so it was a little hot without any liquid balance.
The chips were nothing special. They were a little on the hard and greasy side, like maybe the oil wasn’t quite hot enough, but they were edible.
Chips/salsa score: 3.5/5
3. Drinks: we both got water and I got a margarita, which was only available on the rocks. It was really bad. I mean, seriously crappy. It was too sweet, extremely artificial-tasting like Kool-Aid, with no discernible real lime or tequila flavor. I did get a slight buzz, so I’m pretty sure it contained alcohol, but I wouldn’t put money on it being anything better than grain alcohol. On the wall by our table they advertised their margaritas and strawberry daiquiris, featuring photos of the pre-made mixes the use. Um…? I don’t harbor delusions that most casual Mexican restaurants have people in the back muddling limes or anything, but at least their mixes are reasonably tasty.
The water tasted like water.
Drinks score: 1/5
4. Entrees: Denny got enchiladas and I got mole poblano. I didn’t try his enchiladas, but they looked pretty good and he seemed to enjoy them. They came with rice, beans, and some lettuce/tomato/sour cream toppings.
My mole was a mixed bag. The sauce was very good—it hit me first with the sweet and chocolatey notes, and it lingered nicely with more complex chile and spice flavors. It wasn’t very spicy-hot at all. The chicken was in large chunks. It was all white meat, and the chunks were a little dry and tough on the interior. It would have been better if the chunks had been chicken thighs, which would have stayed moister, or if the meat had been shredded so the sauce had covered it better.
It was served with flour tortillas. I don’t actually know whether flour or corn tortillas are traditional with mole, but my impression is that corn are the default for most of the less-Americanized dishes. Other items on the menu indicated that the diner could choose between corn and flour, but the waiter didn’t ask my preference. Maybe flour is what’s supposed to go with mole. Anyway, the tortillas were good, warm and freshly (what’s the word I want? I want to say a la plancha. Like…toasted on a griddle). There was also rice in the center of the chicken/sauce situation.
The waiter warned us before we ordered that there were no tamales, which disappointed me because I love tamales.
I sopped up all the mole sauce with my tortillas. It was good stuff. We were too full for dessert.
Entrees score: 4/5
The place wasn’t busy, which was good because there seemed to be one owner/manager type person and just one server. The server did a good job, though. He checked on us several times and brought the bill promptly. He flirted with Miles nicely.
My only criticisms of the service were that it would have been nice to have water immediately and place settings already at the table when we sat down. I brought some fruit for Miles that I needed to cut up, and it was a fair amount of time before I got silverware with which to do it.
Service score: 4/5
Overall, it was good, but not exceptional. It hasn’t replaced Iguana’s in Hills as my favorite Mexican place in the area.
Overall score: 3.5/5