El gigante Mexicano: Desperado serves up sombrero-sized Mexican food

The food and atmosphere at Desperado Mexican Restaurant & Bar on Sargent Avenue are excellent. Mark Reimer
The food and atmosphere at Desperado Mexican Restaurant & Bar on Sargent Avenue are excellent. Mark Reimer

Desperado Mexican Restaurant & Bar
570-C Sargent Ave.

Mmmmmmexican food. After living and working in the Southern States, exposure to great authentic Mexican cuisine has been hard to come by, especially in this city.

Unfortunately, while researching this less-than-a-year-old restaurant, I came across their menu, which boasts, “No Lard…EVER!”

Argh, my dreams of a cena rica y authéntica (rich supper with authenticity) were fading fast. Not that lard makes it more authentic, but it just does.

You see it rendering on roadsides if you get far enough away from the resorts. That smell of pig fat on the fire is what makes the food taste right.

A deep look into the menu reveals that they serve a mix of Mexican and Tex-Mex. Shredded beef tacos mingle beside sizzling fajitas to give something for everyone’s palate.

We started with a pedestrian selection of cerveza (Corona, Dos Equis Amber, Pacifico - $4.75) and a double strawberry margarita ($9).

The taquitos ($7), which have recently been dealt a disservice by 7-Eleven, arrive in a flash. The pastry is light and flaky (are you sure you aren’t using lard?) and the shredded beef has a nice kick to it. The chicken, however, was a little dry and tasteless, though surprisingly overshadowed by its heavenly covering.

The salsa with chips ($3) is purportedly made daily, and did not disappoint with a touch of cilantro to betray their Tex-Mex leanings.

Dinner came and the portions were gigante, and unfortunately inversely proportional to the taste. Prawn chipotle ($14.50) was smoky, but not nearly as rich as the menu suggested. And where are the prawns?

The beef burrito ($13.95) came with the same spicy shredded beef found in the taquito and provided one overpowering note. Chicken chimichanga and the beef enchilada combo ($16.95), though large, was bland and boring.

All meals came with a lovely refried bean dish, shredded lettuce and sour cream.

Dessert was a delightful, deep-fried pastry stuffed with strawberries, smothered in whipped cream and drizzled with rich caramel ($4).

Sadly, missing from this menu was the ceviche, tacos de pescado, mole and cerdo.

What? No pork or fish on this menu at all? This made the whole experience a little hard to swallow. Some things you just expect from a Mexican joint.

However, it seems that Desperado has been well received.

A recent phone call there on a Saturday night revealed a packed house of happy diners and drinkers, probably telling their own stories about how much better this food is than when they last went to Mexico - something I am sure the owners hear a lot.

Published in Volume 65, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 24, 2011)

Related Reads