Lunch at Mex is a Mixed Bag

We were tired of sitting in the cold offices looking out at the snow last week, so we decided to head out for a hot lunch at one of the downtown restaurants we are always hearing about. Craving some good Mexican food, we headed over to Mex, a restaurant in PowerPlant Live! that converts into a happening late night spot once the sun goes down.

We’ll forgive Mex the fact that parking around PowerPlant Live! can be difficult. There is some street parking available, but more often than not (and which was the case with us) you’ll end up parking in a garage. This can get pricey, but if you load up a car full of people and then split the bill, it will be manageable. The lunch time crowd at PowerPlant Live! was overly quiet the day we ventured out, but we’re sure it was just because of the snow and ice.

As you walk in Mex, you realize just how much space the restaurant has. Divided into two sections, each one as big as the next, there is plenty of dining space, and an extremely long bar, which we imagine makes the late night crowds happy as it seems there would always be space to access the bartender for drinks. We were ushered off to the left – the “bar” side (we call it this only because it was filled with higher tables for two and fewer booths than the other side), and were seated at a huge booth that could’ve fit three times as many people as our small group of two made up. We were quickly presented with chips and salsa to enjoy while we read our menus to decide what we wanted. We were a fan of the salsa provided, because it wasn’t overly powerful – just spicy enough to get you ready for a good Mexican meal, but not overly spicy that those who don’t like super hot sauce wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it.

The hostess quickly asked us what we wanted to drink, and we were really craving some margaritas. And while we had reviewed the drink options before we had left, we couldn’t remember all the different margarita options they had (and they have a lot), but Mex couldn’t provided us with drink menus. That disappointed us a little, because we could only select from what we could remember. We ordered a Raspberry Rita and a Peach Rita. And while disappointed at the lack of drink menu, we were definitely not disappointed with our drinks. Yumm! Usually you get watered down margaritas, especially at lunch, but these were not watered down at all and provided a definite punch. The Peach margarita had just enough peach flavoring to leave a nice after-taste, but it still tasted like a margarita, and the Raspberry Rita was perfectly flavored as well.

For our meals, one of us ordered a half-size of the fajita salad and a cup of their chicken tortilla soup, while our fellow diner ordered the burrito grande entrée. The first thing you noticed about the food was the gigantic size of the dishes. Remember how we ordered a half-size salad? Well this half-size salad was big enough to be an entire entrée itself, and we couldn’t possibly have finished it all. (Our advice here, is never go with a full-sized salad – the half-size is definitely big enough to fill even the heartiest of appetites.) The burrito entrée was just as enormous, and the burrito alone without the fixings took up almost the entire plate. While the food portions were huge, their taste left a little something to be desired. The chicken tortilla soup was way thicker than any we’d ever had, and it felt more like we were eating tomato sauce than any kind of soup. The salad was too drenched in their “spicy ranch” dressing (which we suggest ordering on the side), and didn’t provide us the Mexican flavoring we were really looking for. The corn and “Mexican” cheeses just weren’t enough to make this salad anything more than the imitation kind of Mexican salad you get at some other chain type restaurants. Our diner had a little better luck with their burrito entrée, but also complained that it didn’t have enough of a “kick” to it, and that it also wasn’t quite Mexican-y enough for them. However, though the meal wasn’t exactly what we were looking for or had been expecting, the food still tasted good, just not what our taste buds had been craving.

Next came the dessert round. And while we usually don’t have room for dessert (and we didn’t this time either), we decided that with a few margaritas in us, it couldn’t hurt to have a little dessert. We went with the fried ice cream and boy are we glad we did! This is seriously an amazing dessert. A heaping scoop of ice cream is covered (somehow) with a fried coconut coating, and though we’re not huge fans of coconut, it was thin enough that you could barely taste the coconut, and it provided more of a crunchy texture than any real flavor. Then the ice cream is placed on top of a tortilla that has been (fried or crisped – something to make it crunchy and puffy) and covered in cinnamon sugar. Then the whole thing is drizzled with chocolate sauce. Mmmmm! Just one bite of this dessert and you will be hooked. We guarantee it. Now, obviously, this is not the healthiest thing on their menu, so dieters beware. But everyone needs a good indulgence every once in a while – and we think this dessert should be it.

The prices were okay, probably a little higher than a restaurant chain, but definitely affordable. The service was good too, though the waitress kept asking us if we wanted more drinks before we were even half-way done the ones we were working on. (A ploy we think to get us loose enough that we would just keep ordering more and more.) We were also a little confused as to why there was country music playing in a Mexican restaurant, but this could just be what the lunch-time manager likes to listen to. Overall our Mex experience was mixed. The drinks and desserts were awesome, but the main course left us wanting more. The pros were enough that we’d definitely visit again, but this time we might just go for an afternoon visit, and stick to what we liked best on the menu.

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