Monday, September 10, 2007

Mexican restaurants, Urbana, Springfield, Clinton

I told you we eat a lot of Mexican food. Here I go again with our old and new favorites.

In Urbana we like El Toro on Cunningham. It's easy to get to from the interstate, the service is lightening fast, the food is awesome, and all the waitstaff are super smiley towards children. I think it was opened by the original singing waiter from El Matador in Decatur. Those El Matador guys, they leave and open the nicest, most family friendly restaurants.

The first time a coworker suggested we eat at Xochimilco in Springfield I thought we'd be having Japanese. But it turned out to be a nice little Mexican restaurant in a strip mall on the west side. The original Xochimilco (I pronounce it So-She-Milk-O but that's probably wrong) is pretty similar to El Rodeo in Decatur. Serviceable but not stellar. I do really like the stand alone Xochimilco on the east side, especially for a late evening adults only meal. It's a fun place, more bar like than most Mexican restaurants.

We just discovered El Ray in Clinton. This tiny restaurant seems to be a refurbished Long John Silvers. It is a sit down restaurant but we had such super fast service it made our heads spin. Our son had a kid's burrito and rice plate which was nearly adult sized for like $3. B had the Fajita Quesadilla which was exactly the same as (west side) Fiesta in Bloomington and very similar to the beloved Mi Pueblito in Decatur. I had the Chili Colorado, which was not very good. The steak had not been cooked in the mole and the mole was very tomatoey instead of chocolaty. The mole was just drizzled on the meat.

I'm definitely willing to try again and see if I can find out what is really good. For us the location is very convenient and when you include the Ultimate Play Space in the trip, it's better than Fiesta with a side of Wal-mart. It took many meals at Fiesta to find the Pollo Encremada, which is out of this world.

11 comments:

Gnightgirl said...

Can I recommend Taco Tako in Arcola, IL? One tiny room, one table, you might want to take out, but it's fun to pack in. Plate of tacos $6, you get 5 small tacos, tortillas doubled up, filled with the works, and a side of fried onions on the side. The place is to die for, and has only gotten great reviews.

Henny Penny said...

Ooooh, never heard of it. Thanks, we will definitely make a point to swing by there.

lbotp said...

I find that there are two types of Mexican food people in C-U: El Toro people or Dos Reales people. I am a Dos Reales person myself! Now that they have two locations, it's hard not to hop over there ...

Leeanthro said...

Try Fiesta Cafe on First St. in Champaign. They are the only ones in the area with black beans. And their salsa is really good too.

Henny Penny said...

I haven't been to Dos Reales in years, but I remember the margaritas being good. Hopefully I can talk B into trying all three suggested restaurants in the name of blog research. Or maybe Mrs. Chicken would like a girls dinner out since Mr. Chicken does not like Mexican food.

lbotp said...

I also like Fiesta too. Mexican girls night out ... you're on to something. Mr. lbotp doesn't do Mexican food either.

Henny Penny said...

B says:
I just had the hottest, spiciest food I've ever eaten in my entire life. I met Tom at Fiesta (Bloomington, on Veterans). The waiter took my order and I said "pollo encremado" He asked me spicy, and I said yes… he said "very spicy?" I said sure.

When he brought it out, it was like normal, but instead of jalapeƱos, it was all bright orange habanera slices with all the seeds… about as much habanera as chicken. OMG. This blew up my head. My lips are blistered, my forehead is still sweating, and my gut is on fire… and I only ate half the plate.

My guess is someone must have grown these habaneras locally in a garden and brought them in, because they don't normally have them around.

becka said...

Actually, El Rey is a refurbished Dairy Queen, not Long John Silvers. And the taco salad is delicious.

Anonymous said...

If you want to be picky, it is a refurbished Dairy Queen which was a refurbished Long John Silvers from a long time ago.

Henny Penny said...

It's pretty obvious looking at the building that it was a LJS at some point in it's useful life. It's nearly identical to the LJS building on Eldorado in Decatur.

Anonymous said...

I know you're on hiatus but come to Danville and try La Potosina on South Gilbert Street aka Route 1. Family friendly, great staff, awesome salsa (don't waste time with the mild for yourself but mild is good for children) and very fast service even for large parties.