Chinita Mexican Bar and Grill: Summerlin’s New Meh-xican
In an effort to diversify my reviews, I made sure that this time I wasn’t going to do yet another Asian or Asian Fusion place. Anyone who keeps one eye on the new openings in town can attest that this is becoming somewhat taxing. Next week will no doubt be some kind of infused tapas, so don’t get used to this. Submitted for your approval is one Chinita Mexican Bar and Grill, located in the slowly but surely growing collection of Summerlin restaurants. As far as sit-down Mexican places, I believe the only real name in the area is that corporate-sterile “Modern Mexican” Cantina Laredo in Tivoli. Its redeeming quality seems to end at putting something interesting like spinach or pinapple mostly in dishes that deserve it, maybe avoiding some of the cliches in decor, but not much else.
Chinita has become something of a polarizing series of experiences, and I think I have narrowed down the reasons for them. Apart from a few key details, they have really missed the mark on things. Their tequila list is muy bueno, fair-ish priced, and Vicente behind the bar has a great working knowledge and ability to recommend to your tastes. The flight of Fortaleza blanco, reposado, and anjeo ran us a bit, but was worth the damage. Their margaritas seem like they were made with the awkward lunch-date social lubrication in mind (however committing that cardinal sin of making a few anjeo margaritas), but aside from their cucumber one I couldn’t imagine ingesting too much of that sickly sweet stuff. I can only say that I was happy they were not obliterated in a blender, and I could imagine getting excited over them if I was used to your average World Famous Chili’s ‘rita sampler.
There’s one thing I got excited over and will probably find myself going back for is their AYCE tacos tuesdays for only one Zander Hambone. Their pulled pollo is almost too juicy and flavorful, the pork is delicious little cubes crispified on one side, the steak is… well lets just say I stuck with the chicken and pork after my first round. Nothing wrong, just nothing special. I get them Mexican style, just cilantro and onion. Leave the shredded cheese and lettuce for the plebs! The best part about it is that it avoided what I disliked the most in the rest of the menu: No nasty rice and beans! I swear these rice and beans you get at literally every Mexican restaurant must come in a cargo ship because their uniform sadness would make Budweiser jealous. Next time I’m subbing for their house-made onion rings, and damn any up-charge they may dare!
Aside from that swell deal, I can’t recommend much. The Camarones a la Diablo were small, scant, and downright angelic compared to the spice levels I expect from “A La Diablo”. Twenty two of my dollars got me a handful of frozen tail-on shrimp, a dollop of a mediocre tomato sauce, but enough beans and rice to craft a life sized bust of myself. The app sampler came almost entirely out of a fryer, and boy could you tell. The only thing I found myself enjoying were the nachos, and there were like four! Next time, getting a plate of those and skipping the rest.
Their Chorizo hamburgesa was about the only redeeming original/special item. It had all the smoky, spicy, identifiable chorizo flavor in the burger, some of their pretty solid guacamole, and you can get it with those onion rings I mentioned. Now, it’s not usually a great sign when the burger is the best thing in a Mexican place, but at least it’s a better “tex mex” style burger than danged near anywhere else that’s tried.
Overall, I’d say you should gamble the ten-spot for Taco Tuesday as soon as you can, get a little education in the tequila for the curious, maybe try a Mexican staple with that tasty pork or chicken or the hamburgesa, but leave the rest for El Diablo. Until someone steps up the Mexican game in town (or someone gives the so-far best in town Tacos el Gordo a satellite), we’re stuck with Summerlin having two places worth going to satisfy a specific craving, but not much more.
Chinita Mexican Bar and Grill
In Village Square