This weekend we of the usual BHFE crew steeled ourselves and returned to the now infamous Plaza Fiesta. Carnitas Michoacan seems to be the only other true restaurant in the mall (assuming you’re feeling generous about Asian Pearl‘s status as a restaurant…). It is located unfortunately close to an outdoor karaoke stage that was being utilized when arrived, but things quieted down shortly after we ordered.
|The restaurant has good-sized booths and tables, and several TVs with spanish programming.|
The main offering of this eatery seems to be the carnitas surtidas, since three sizes (single, couple and family) of the carnitas surtidas combo meal are the items featured most prominently on the menu board above the counter. There were also two fast food style menus off to the left by the salsa bar– one combo even featured a hamburger. But they seemed trashy, so we avoided them.
|The guac and the tortillas in their foil.|
I ordered the signature dish – carnitas surtidas – for one (~$8.50). It came with tortillas and tortilla chips, a decent portion of gucamole, a side of chiccarones, a side of nopalitos, and whole roasted green onions. The guacamole was fine and I skipped most of the chips and tortillas (average at best). I really enjoyed the nopalitos at first, but after a while they started to wear on me and seem slimy. Adam says he liked the nopalitos at Bone Garden more, though I honestly don’t remember anything about them. I really, really enjoyed the roasted onions. I wasn’t a fan of the chiccarones, but I am not one for pork skin products anyway.
Unfortunately, I hated the carnitas surtidas. You see, if I had been up on my spanish food names, I would have realized that surtidas means mixed. Not mixed types of meats, but mixed parts… This means I had all sorts of pig parts in my carnitas. Mostly skin and fat from my perspective. Non-tradional-american parts is not an inherently bad thing, but as I said, I’m not a huge fan of pork skin as food, and it definitely wasn’t an appetizing proportion of different body parts. It was also very greasy – the kind of grease that makes paper napkins fuse to your skin and tear apart, rather than wiping off nicely. There were so many sides with this dish, that between eating them and being turned off by the carnitas, I left full, despite barely touching the main part of my plate.
|The enchiladas special.|
Adam and Stephen each ordered a special beef enchilada plate (~8.50) from a hand-written sign above the counter. It came with your choice of an additional protein (chicken, steak or pigs feet – they both got steak), and fries. Neither Adam nor Stephen were particularly impressed by their choice, but compared to my meal, I thought it was great. I also really liked the feta-like cheese on the enchiladas. The steaks were both quite overcooked, though.
Ashley got chicken enchilada mexicana (~$6) and a steak sope ($2.50). Ashley’s thoughts on the sope: “The potato base of it was incredibly tough. I couldn’t cut through it with the plastic knife I was given. The first few steak bites were bone and then gristle and generally overcooked.” She wasn’t a big fan of the enchilada either, but the rest of us thought it was pretty tasty – and least compared to everything else.
Oh, and I got the horchata, despite the fact that it looked like that particular agua fresca machine was not on. That makes me nervous, because once, an agitator on the a drink machine broke at my middle school and we got maggots in the drink… Anyway, the horchata was fine. Not a stand-out example.
Overall, 2 stars. Can’t compare to other mexican joints we’ve tried on this quest so far. None of us plan to return. Also, we’re declaring the exploration of Plaza Fiesta to be complete, since the rest of it is food court food – food I usually try to avoid. However, we are open to being corrected. If there is somewhere in Plaza Fiesta that is simply amazing, and deserves attention, just leave a comment and let me know!
4166 Buford Highway NE
Atlanta, GA 30345