When it comes to Mexican food, one of the older restaurants around town is El Mexico Cafe. According to their Facebook page, they have been locally owned and operated for 45 years. They also say that El Mexico Cafe anchors the city as it’s premier Mexican institution. If you put much stock into awards, they are the most recent winner of the Wichita Eagle’s Best of Wichita for Best Mexican Restaurant.
Put all that together and it’s a place with high praise. For me, I’ve been a couple of times over the years and haven’t been too impressed with it. But coming off the highly coveted Best Mexican Restaurant win from the Eagle, I figured I had to give it another chance again to see what the hype and love was about.
2544 S Seneca, Wichita, KS 67217
Monday – Saturday: 11am – 9pm
Closed on Sunday
My meal began with complimentary chips and salsa. They had a mild and a hot; both were very runny with not much flavor, but not too bad. The chips weren’t anything special. On the plus side, they weren’t stale like my previous visit. All in all, nothing memorable to start.
According to a Facebook post I made asking for meal suggestions, the overwhelming favorite was the Special Monterrey. It was easily the most recommended dish at El Mexico Cafe. It was advertised as the ultimate tostada; savory, seasoned pork on a fried tortilla shell, layered with refried beans, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, jalapenos, avocado, green olives and a splash of their mild salsa.
I’m all for putting trust in readers and at first glance, the Special Monterrey isn’t going to win any beauty pageants. Also, it won’t win any taste pageants if I had a say in it.
Not sure what went wrong or if my taste buds are just way off, but this had to have been the most underwhelming meal of the year so far. The seasoned pork must have been seasoned with air because I didn’t taste anything. Outside the pork, the most overpowering flavor you could get was from the refried beans.
I nearly went through an entire bottle of their salsa, just so I could get some sense of flavor in the meal. There wasn’t much of anything I enjoyed about this. It started to feel like a chore to finish it.
Given their awards, accolades, and fan base, I’m definitely in the minority when it comes to El Mexico Cafe. To me, it felt like the Spear’s of Mexican food; an older crowd being served basic dishes. I fit right in with the former, but I needed something more than a basic dish.
My service was excellent, though. My dish came out in what felt like record time. So quick, it had me curious as to why.
Well readers, El Mexico is a thumbs down for me. Usually, third times the charm. Alas, it wasn’t in this case.
Here’s their menu.
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