By Mary Cobbler
It was late on a Tuesday afternoon when I visited Mi Pueblo II at 554 Ritchie Highway in Severna Park. The sister of Mi Pueblo in Glen Burnie, the restaurant is described as “folksy” on its website, and I agree. It has a fun, festive feel, with vibrant, earthy colors throughout and Mexican art on the walls. There are tables, with engravings throughout the restaurant, and high-backed booths lining the walls, giving diners a cozy, private space. Mexican music and the continuous stream of waiters waltzing by with margaritas added to the authentic atmosphere.
My waiter arrived with a bowl of warm tortilla chips and a carafe of fresh salsa. I nearly finished the fresh and lightly spicy salsa before my mango margarita arrived. Perfect for an 85-degree day, the frozen concoction didn’t disappoint. It was wonderfully refreshing — with the rim coated in sugar, the sweet and tangy mango flavor, and mid-level potency.
I chose the botana mixta for an appetizer, to get the chance to sample a lot of different goodies. The large plate of delicacies included a cheese quesadilla, taquitos, chicken fingers and jalapeno poppers served over a bed of lettuce, guacamole and sour cream. The generous servings could have easily satisfied a party of four. The quesadilla was filled with light and mild Mexican cheese, the tachitos were crunchy and flavorful, and the chicken tenders and the poppers crisp and spicy. There were no complaints from anyone at the table (that would be me). I must pay homage to the guacamole. It is the best I’ve ever tasted. I was never a guacamole lover, but I guess I just hadn’t met the right guacamole yet.
For my entree, I asked my server for a recommendation, and he suggested the chimichanga or the El Molcajete, which the menu says serves two. I chose the El Molcajete since I planned to take food home to my hubby.
My eyes bulged as I saw the waiter with my dish. It was huge and sizzling hot, with the meat literally spilling over the sides of a large black stone bowl (called a molcajete). It was filled with grilled rib-eye steak, shrimp, chicken and Mexican sausage, with cactus and jalapeno poppers on top of melted cheese and chipotle sauce, all served with a side of rice, beans, lettuce, that delightful guacamole, and generous portions of sour cream, and tortillas.
Honestly, I was stuffed from the appetizer and chips and salsa, but I forced myself to taste the dish, piling some meat, shrimp, the cactus, and other goodies onto a tortilla. The grilled chicken and steak were tender and perfectly seasoned, as was the shrimp. The cactus was unique. I had to ask my waiter if it was edible, and he assured me it was. It had the texture of zucchini, with a milder taste. Altogether it was a satisfying mix, and my husband was impressed when I brought him the stuffed leftover containers. In fact, his exact words were, “That’s the best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten.”
I topped off my meal with tres leches, beautifully presented with a cherry on top — a sweet ending, though maybe a little too sweet for my taste. The filling was light and airy but lacked a richness I prefer in that particular dessert. Other choices also looked good – cheesecake xango, charros, fried ice cream, and other yummy offerings.
The food was reasonable and the wait staff was pleasant. For the large appetizer, margarita, entree and dessert, the check came to $44. I had plenty to take home for dinner for one night and lunch for the next day.
There are lots of items to choose from — traditional Mexican fare, meat and seafood entrees, a large selection of vegetarian dishes, children’s meals, and lunch specials as well as a full bar.
Make time this summer to dine south of the border, at least in spirit, at Mi Pueblo II. For the full menu, go to www.mipueblo2.com.