Mando's Restaurant, 162 Fountin Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
Date: 11 Nov 11
Cost (Value): $$-$$$ (4)
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General: Mando's moved into this location semi-recently (a year ago, maybe?), replacing a restaurant called Zocalo's. While I had eaten at Zocalo's, it wasn't that memorable. So, when my parents suggested we give the new resident (Mando's) a try, I wasn't sure what to expect. But, as soon as we took a look at the menu, I knew Mando's had some promise and hoped it would deliver!
I ordered: Pozole and tacos al pastor. My dinner companions ate carnitas tacos, a cheese enchilada, chile verde, and a tamale.
Good: You have to love a Mexican restaurant that is open for all three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The atmosphere in the restaurant was okay, with a few decorations scattered across the walls of the small dining room. Even though the menu was not very large, the diversity was pretty good, with a selection of favorites to appeal to those that like different styles. The service at Mando's was extremely friendly, and provided a pleasant overall experience. One of the best parts of my Mando's trip was the value; the amount of food served was worth every penny it cost (between $11 and $16 for most items). I asked for spicier salsa, which the waitress happily provided, but, while the result was certainly flavorful, whether or not it was much spicier is debatable. When the food arrived, it looked great! The rice on each plate was very interesting, with chunks of potato and carrot, and had a hint of citrus in the flavor. One of my companions reported that the carnitas tacos were pretty good and the cheese enchilada was solid. My other guest ssaid the chile verde was likewise tasty, and both raved about and recommended the tamale. One of my favorite things was the homemade tortillas; the edges of the thick, fresh corn tortillas made them look hand-pressed, and they were delicious!
Bad: Despite the overall positive experience, there was definitely some room for improvement. My pozole (a dish of which I am particularly fond), was a bit bland. The soup was served with lemon and Mexican oregano, but the former was not enough and the latter was both overpowering and not particularly delicious. The al pastor pork in my tacos likewise was not spiced exactly right... I could have listed the tacos under the "Good" section, as they were okay, but I expected more; for those of you that like heavily flavored sweet al pastor meat (like I do), this pork is probably not what you're looking for. The black beans served with one of the meals were pretty basic and a bit bland. And, last (but not least for some of you), Mando's did not appear to serve margaritas.