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Cafe Fiesta Fe


Update: We think Cafe Fiesta Fe is closed.
Further update, 4/6/11: Nope, open!


In a word: The Neptune of the Madison dining scene (cold, expensive and far away).

The specs: #0219
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; review at Chowhound; official web site, Fiesta FE on Urbanspoon

JM ate the chicken enchilada/beef burrito combo and a lemonade.
Nichole ate the mole veracruz enchilada with a Coke.
The bill was about $30, or $15/person, plus tip.
JM gave Cafe Fiesta Fe a C+; Nichole gave Cafe Fiesta Fe a C (see our grading rubric).

Latest Cafe Fiesta Fe news and reviews

Cafe Fiesta Fe sign

Cafe Fiesta Fe is a bright spot on Main St. in Richland Center. The dining room is warm and welcoming, with large windows and an airy, open (smoke-free) feel. We were seated quickly by the hostess, who walked us past the daily specials board. Neither of us tried the red snapper (very tasty), though maybe we should have.

Cafe Fiesta Fe red snapper

Posole soup came with Nichole's meal, and it was OK but not very memorable. As for the entree, the mole had very vinegary overtones. Indeed, the whole meal suffered from an imbalance between its spices and its base flavors - it all seemed to lack an anchor. The cheese that topped the enchilada and beans was (in true Wisconsin form) fun and stringy, and JM quite liked the shrimp.

Cafe Fiesta Fe mole

JM was too hungry to wait for the camera before taking a bite of his chicken enchilada. (We didn't know to ask for our "one complimentary basket of chips and Salsa," and it wasn't offered.)


And though there were too many beans - they were on everything! - he finished off his entree and still didn't quite feel full. The beef in the burrito was not particularly tasty but the pico was nice.  It would have been great to put it on something, but it seemed like a waste to leave it, so he he ate it a la carte.

Cafe Fiesta Fe chicken enchilada

Though the desserts (Mexican wedding cake, tres leches cake, flan etc.) looked good, we passed - Nichole because she was stuffed, JM because he felt that his one drink refill was used up and he refused to give them any more money.

Cafe Fiesta Fe is probably a "hauter" cuisine than most in Richland Center, but for us it just didn't quite make it, when more palatable and generous Mexican restaurants are much, much closer. We didn't feel like the food was a great value, even before we figured in the 2 hour round trip.

Incidentally, the effect that the distance had on our grades can be expressed with the following map. (Note: that really is JM's handwriting).

Map with grades


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La Taqueria in Evansville - their enchilada sauce tasted like ketchup. Yuck!

Should try the Cabo san Lucas salad or the Chile Rellenos--they have the best desserts ever!

Wow nice job. It's so great to see people with no lives judging family owned buisnesses = ]] Keep up the great work! What you're doing really makes a difference to society. Thank you!!
ps. If you were that upset by the long travel just to go to an average mexican resteraunt, why feel the need to even share your grade C experience? By the way, the resteraunt USED to give as many chips as the customer wanted. But being in a town where mexican food is not very appreciated, so much food was going to waste. To decrease this waste, they decided to cut back on giving out chips and salsa.

Hey, "nik," what are you doing with your valuable time at midnight on a Wednesday?

I think I too often speak for JM and Nichole on the comment threads here, just because I'm one of those people with no life who reads the comments regularly. It's their website, they'll tell you what's up. But did someone force you to click a link to come here? Did you not feel like reading the "What is it?" post way up at the top?

Bottom line: why so crabby?

I would say that Nichole and I are most certainly not against family-run businesses. In truth, we usually take heat for being too anti-chain. When the list calls, we MUST heed its call. We MUST then write about it. We do make careful notes that the restaurant is probably good for Richland Center, which may be your stomping ground, but does not compare as well with other cafes in our purview (which, as Kyle notes, is covered in the "What is it?" post).

We feel our review serves merely a conversation starter. If anyone agrees or disagrees, they should let us know in a comment with their opinion. That's very useful to us (and, hopefully, the rest of Madison), since we only get one snapshot.

(And don't worry about it, Kyle. You comment as much as you like for the exact same reason.)

Hey, intersting review. We really like the Cafe. Food is always respectable, service very good, and the ambience is nice. We almost never go to a chain restuarant, and as we live 20 mins. away from the Cafe, it's a nice destination. I really like the fact that I don't have to drive 45 miles to Madison for mediocre food, mediocre service, and a impersonal, rushed atmosphere. And the "oh so Madison" attitude that exudes from so many restaurants in the capital city. Madison is NOT the center of the food universe by the way. LOL.

Thanks for clearing up such a common misconception for us.

I've not eaten at Cafe Fiesta Fe, but this review matches the four or five comments I've heard from people who have.

That is, food is okay, portions are on the lighter side, and it's slightly overpriced.

I find it interesting that serving sizes are reported as small. I don't remember ever leaving a Mexican restaurant feeling that way.

I think Beth is totally right- why be so harsh on a family owend buissens. I think the food is very tasty! To me- it is filling! And there desserts are amazing! Especially the Mexican Wedding Cake!!
If you just go there for your self- you could see how tasty the food is! if you dont like it- fine, just dont be mean on what you comment. Trust me i live 3 housrs away- and i came all the way there just to do some sight seeing and try there food!!!

Annika: I've met Owen D. Buissens. I've dined with Owen D. Buissens. And you--you're no Owen D. Buissens.

I certainly hope you didn't drive home in that condition.

Neptune is expensive?

Have you seen what they charge for soda refills on Neptune?

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