I've been hearing about Las Trojas for years. And every time we would leave town on the 53, I'd spot it and go "Oh, we need to go there!". Well, we finally did. Shaking off the cold weather, the hubby and I loaded into to car, on a quest for a Sunday lunch out.
When we arrived at Las Trojas, I was impressed to see that the large restaurant was over half full. The decor bounced around a bit--a framed poster of the Dos Equis spokesman and giant parrots holding bottles of beer shared space with floral chandeliers and large scale paintings. It hung together though, related by warm colors and an earthy background. Light streamed in through the windows backing the bar and small flat screen TVs abounded. Mercifully, all of the screens were set to the same channel allowing us to have a vigorous discussion about the merits of bowling (some sort of competition was underway).
We had been seated promptly and chips arrived immediately. We munched on them while reviewing the menu. And what a menu. For the uninitiated, it's one of those menus that has pretty much everything you could even think of. The kind that's so expansive I tend to go into shut-down mode and relegate my searching to a single category. Thankfully, it was lunch-time, so it was easy enough to stay in the Lunch Specials.
The chips and salsa were...underwhelming. The chips were thick and crunchy--the kind of thick that makes them just a little too hard--and unsalted. The salsa was mostly tomato paste--slightly lumpy and very mild. There were a few visible tomato seeds and small bits of cilantro, so I expect it was house made, but there was no oomph to it. Those who do not like spicy food will describe it as having a kick, as there was a hint of spice, but for everyone else the better word is probably bland. The salsa was served chilled which was a nice touch, but I reminded me of the old beer campaign (was its Coor's Light?) where they pushed cold beer in part because it numbed the taste buds and people were less able to discern the flavor.
I salted chips and we further debated bowling as we settled on our orders. Two lunch specials. A fajita hawiiana for me (I'm a sucker for hot pineapple) and an enchiladas suiza for the hubby. Once our orders were placed, I tried to suss out the mystery of the "Cantina". A side room separated from the main dining area by a glass wall and glass double doors, it seemed to be separated most by fact of having been another establishment annexed into the restaurant. Despite the neon "Cantina" sign, the bar was in the main restaurant. The wall that faced the exterior of the building appeared to have screens, but we hadn't seen any patio seating. My best guess is that during nice weather, they open up the screens and that area serves as an enclosed patio.
After a long enough wait that I'd started checking my watch, our food appeared. As seems to be par for the course, my fajitas order was huge, encompassing 2 full plates and a third, smaller plate. Either they don't scale down for their lunch menu or their dinner fajitas are incomprehensibly huge.
My chicken (shown at the top of this post) came as small, heat curled morsels. Each one was moist and infused with flavor, without any visible sauce. Mixed in with the chicken were small pineapple wedges that looked to be canned. I have nothing against canned pineapple, but I was disappointed in the "tidbits" rather than "chunks" as I prefer more of the pineapple flavor at once. Your mileage may vary. Green bell pepper made an appearance in the form of thin slices, cooked through. And very occasionally, I unearthed a thin strip of onion, cooked until sweet. Though, to be fair, I'm not sure if that's because there wasn't much onion, or simply because it blended visually with the other items and had a mild flavor.
The accompanying beans were creamy, relatively unsalted and topped with cheese. The rice was a fluffy, not greasy (!), and free of most vegetables. Despite the orange color, though, it did not have much of a flavor. The guacamole was smooth, a creamy blend featuring avocado, salt, and a bit of mayo to smooth it out. Again, it tended toward the bland. The pico de gallo broke away from the pack with a sharp punch of cilantro. The tomatoes were winter tomatoes but not horribly so as they still had a refreshing punch of flavor.
The tortillas were disappointing. One of my favorite things about eating Mexican food at a restaurant is the housemade tortillas. Thin, with just a bit of stretch, they tend to beat the pants off store bought varieties. Unfortunately, these were not the tortillas I was looking for. Thick and chewy, almost doughy, they were the antithesis of my perfect tortilla.
The hubby found his enchiladas to have "really nice chicken, but it wasn't very spicy".
Las Trojas has a niche and it does it well. The usual Mexican restaurant decor is amped up, the ambiance clean and inviting, portions generous, menu options plentiful....and the food is mostly safe, Americanized, uncompromisingly mild. For some, this may be exactly what they are searching for. For me? I'd go back if a friend really had their heart set on going, but it's not on my short list.
Total for the meal: $20.70 (two soft drinks and two lunch specials)
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