My friend Russ Salazar wanted us to visit Durango’s the evening of Cinco de Mayo for the Mariachi music, but the weather seemed not to be cooperating. So, we decided to visit this popular restaurant for lunch on this Mexican holiday celebrating their defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Durango’s has been around for quite a while, taking over the Westerner – Arnavais – Tinker’s Cove location at 263 Placerville Drive many years ago.
It is very popular and on this celebratory Thursday, both the bar and dining rooms were well occupied by singles, couples, foursomes and even a large group of “Red Hat” ladies.
We were first offered a booth, but it was a bit too tight for two well-fed gentlemen, so they gladly shifted us to a more comfortable table.
As usual we decided to order two different dishes and share them, so we looked over the “Especiales de Lonche” part of the menu to see what looked good. Russ decided on a Shredded Beef (machaca) taco, which he had enjoyed before, while I ordered the Chile Verde plate with flour tortillas. I love chile verde, but in all these years had not tried theirs.
Both lunches came with Spanish rice and beans, so we ordered one lunch with refried beans and the other with their Ranchero beans. After thinking about it for a minute or so, Russ added cup of their Sopa de Albondigas (homemade meatball and vegetable soup) to our order just to give it a try.
While waiting for our food, we munched on their multi-colored tortilla chips and the accompanying very nice, but not very hot, salsa.
In a short while Russ’ soup arrived. It looked very good and, it turns out, tasted even better. Russ, who is obviously my Mexican food expert, complemented it by telling me it was very good and then shared some with me. I agreed, the meatballs had a nice consistency and the broth was very tasty.
When our main order arrived they had given both of us refried beans, but that was solved in a friendly flash with a small bowl filled with their Ranchero beans.
My chile verde “needed more verde,” Russ told me, and then added that the pork was perfectly cooked and tender.
He then asked why I was eating it with a fork and, as before, showed my the proper way to tear off a piece of flour tortilla and scoop up the meat, beans and rice. I can do that, but only a portion of the food ever reaches my mouth, the rest landing somewhere between it and the plate, usually on my clothes. I’ll stick with the fork.
His shredded beef taco was also superb. He pointed out to be that in spite of being crisp, the tortilla did not break while eating it. So often tacos do that and end up joining the rest of the food on your clothes.
I really liked the rice and both of us commented to each other about the beans and how good they were. The Ranchero beans were whole and the refried beans were only partially mashed, which added a bit of texture to them.
All in all, everything was great and, for you who do not favor hot food, nicely seasoned for your taste.
Their lunch menu also has a Chile Relleno (the true test of a Mexican restaurant), Pork Tamale, several burritos, Enchilada, Flauta, Quesadilla, Tostada and Chile Colorado.
Under the heading of Sopa Y Ensaladas, are found the Albondigas and a shrimp with vegetables soup, along with Avocado, Shrimp, Shrimp Taco, Taco and Grilled Steak or Chicken Fajita salads.
The Especialidades de la Casa include everything a good Mexican restaurant should have, like Carnitas, Carne Adobada, Flautas, Machaca, Picadillo, Chimichangas, Chile Colorado, Chile Verde, Enchiladas – Rancheras, Steak Ranchero and much more.
Mariscos de la Casa (seafood) includes Crab Enchiladas, Fish Tacos, Shrimp Enchiladas, Shrimp Tacos, Shrimp Quesadilla and Camerones ala Mexicana. This is followed by a list of Cenas Favorites and a dozen and a half Combinationes de la Casa.
You can view their entire menu at http://www.durangosrestaurant.com/menu.html.
Durango’s Mexican Restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. For more information visit their webpage or call (530) 626-0841.