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Fiesta Cancun

Update 4/17/11: Fiesta Cancun is closed. Thanks for the heads up, Tim.

In a word: Did Madison need to import a Laredo's-style chain?

The specs: #0570  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Ruppert Food Blog, Yelp, 77 Square, EatDrinkMadison; TDPF; Fiesta Cancun on Urbanspoon

JM ate the lunch combo #3 with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the carnitas tacos with an horchata.
The bill was $18, or $9/person, plus tip.
JM gave Fiesta Cancun an A-; Nichole gave Fiesta Cancun a C (see our grading rubric).

Latest Fiesta Cancun news and reviews

Combo 3Fiesta Cancun on Mineral Point is the latest branch in a regional chain of family-friendly Mexican restaurants with spots in Platteville and Monroe plus four Illinois locations.

It's fine. Prices are about a buck more than at Laredo's (our lazy yardstick for all restaurants of this type) and some ingredients are better, but broadly speaking, it serves the same purpose. A few parties were making use of the high chairs and booster seats. High-backed benches with airbrushed tropical scenes made up somewhat for the odd half-covered ceiling and the electrical conduit running at eye level - mostly painted over in peachy paint, but hey, if it were operational, one could bring one's laptop and linger over spicy salsa for hours. Theoretically.

In actuality, there wasn't much to linger over. Pepsi products and a tiny, giga-brew-only beer list left us parched. JM noted that his pink lemonade was not often the default, but it tasted fine. The kicker was that the horchata was truly icky - evocative of those elementary-school experiments with corn starch in water.

JM's lunch combo #3 of beef enchilada, rice and beans was gone in a flash. The beef filling was a step up from Laredo's (it didn't include any of those diced frozen potato bits). The rice and beans were par for the course. Indeed, this was true of the whole affair.

Carnitas tacosNichole's carnitas tacos were plain. One semi-portioned pile of fatty pork, slippery with fat, sat on three pairs of storebought corn tortillas. Once picked up they dripped fat into a lake of fat pooling on the wax-paper-lined plate. Nichole likes fat, but this much was enough to keep a 70-pound Afghan hound's coat glossy for weeks.

Some pinkish pico de gallo didn't add much flavor, but the four jars of Abuelita and other hot sauces on the table helped. Had she thought ahead, Nichole could have augmented the pork with a side of fresh avocado or 12 cooked shrimp a la carte (a menu item we found odd). 20/20 hindsight and all.

So, JM gave Fiesta Cancun an A- out of fairness and deference to the fact that he knows his tastes run toward the pedestrian, but Nichole would prefer to stay away. We learn something new every day.

Comments

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I first encountered Fiesta Cancun while living in Dubuque, Iowa. I'm a pretty big fan, as far as bog-standard Tex-Mex goes.

The whole "potatoes in beef enchiladas" thing you mentioned is the reason I absolutely refuse to go to Laredo's.

I didn't realize this was in the same chain as the Fiesta Cancun in Platteville, I just figured it was a common name for a Mexican restaurant. I'd gone to the Platteville location several times over the years as my sister went to UWP (and actually was a waitress at the restaurant that preceded it) and I always thought it was pretty good for Platteville.

I went to the Mineral Point restaurant after getting fitted for a tux at Men's Warehouse and I was mildly impressed. It was certainly on par with the other location, but in Madison the standards are a bit higher. I'd put Fiesta Cancun on the same level as Mi Cocina - good but not great. I did like that they had bottles of Yucateca on the tables.

Simultaneously laughing out loud and feeling nauseous reading your description of the fat! Thanks for the laugh.

We tried to go here for dinner tonight (Sunday, April 17, 2011), and the place was locked up tight: Signage taken down, a "closed" sign hanging in the door and large "For Lease" signs on all the windows. Bummer.

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