In the entire world, there may not be a national anthem that inspires as much heart-felt pride as the Mexican ballad Mexico Lindo Y Querido. It is a hauntingly stirring proclamation of the balladeer’s profound love for his native land–a love so intense that even his guitar awakens in the morning inspired to sing with alacrity about that land he loves. The song speaks to the country’s volcanoes, prairies and flowers serving as talismans for the love of his loves, the country of Mexico itself.
While the country of Mexico is indeed blessed with awe-inspiring wonders, its greatest beauty lies in the soul and character of its people. From the downtrodden descendents of its indigenous peoples to the scions of Cortez, most Mexicans remain God fearing, finding His presence in the simplicity of nature and glorifying His name in the way they approach life. There is also much simplicity in the daily bounty they receive with sincere reverence and gratitude. That simplicity is most often evident in the ingredients used to prepare Mexican food–corn, flour, peppers and beans being but a few staples.
Lindo Mexico (literally Beautiful Mexico), a restaurant which launched in 2005, celebrates the culinary heritage of Mexico. Its menu features many of the standards American diners have come to know as well as mariscos (seafood) entrees you won’t find at the stereotypical Americanized Mexican restaurant. It is situated on the site formerly occupied by Ma’s Garden, a once popular Chinese restaurant. From the exterior, the restaurant’s architectural style still reflects its Oriental predecessor, but step inside and you’ll know instantly that you’re in a Mexican restaurant.
Colorful Mexican blankets and sombreros festoon the walls while Tequila bottles, replete with their golden liquid content, are displayed on small wooden shelves. The sonorous tones of melodic Mexican corridos and rancheras resonate from tinny speakers. The wait staff maintains a frenetic pace to keep up with the throngs of families and compadres waiting to be served.
A favorable first impression was quickly made by the restaurant’s horchata which would be among the best we’ve had in the Duke City were it not served at just above room temperature (even with ice cubes, it just isn’t that cold). The flavor and aroma of ground cinnamon made this refreshing rice beverage truly memorable.
Also inspiring instant affection was an appetizer sized Tostada de Ceviche, a crispy corn tostado smeared with a layer of guacamole then topped with diced seafood, lettuce, white cheese, tomato and splashed with lime juice. There is just too much lettuce and tomato on the tostada to let the seafood taste really come through, but it’s not bad Ceviche by Albuquerque standards. Much better is Lindo Mexico’s salsa which, in its September, 2012 edition, Albuquerque The Magazine named the third best in Albuquerque from among 130 salsas sampled throughout the city.
On my review of Adelita’s, I chronicled my lifelong love of parrillada, a popular meat or seafood entree throughout Latin America. We were elated to find parrillada de carne asada (marinated, grilled beef) on Lindo Mexico’s menu and even happier to find that it was pretty good. The waifishly thin cut of beef was more than a bit tough and more than slightly stringy (fairly typical in Mexican restaurants), but there was no mistaking the wonderful tastes and intoxicating aromas of well-seasoned beef. Served in a platter for two, the parrillada platter included warm tortillas just off the comal, a bowl of melted white queso fresco (fresh cheese), two fried jalapenos and two baked potatoes, all of which were quite delicious. Also quite wonderful was a plate of charro beans, well-flavored with sausage and tripe.
By the way, if you’ve never had a baked potato Mexican style, you’re in for a treat. Mexican baked potatoes are wrapped in tin foil and baked until perfectly soft (not mushy and overdone) and served with a heaping portion of melting butter. These terrific tubers are surprisingly moist and an excellent side dish.
Since an order parrillada de carne asada yields marinated grilled beef in the form of steak, you would think an order of “carne asada” would also mean steak of some sort. Instead, you’ll receive a plateful of grilled hamburger meat. It’s not bad, but quite a far cry from carne asada you’ll find at other restaurants.
Our sole departure into the nautical realm (the mariscos side of the menu) resulted in an anomalous entree–desiccated seafood. More specifically, the camarones a la fiesta (shrimp a la fiesta) was among the driest seafood entrees we can remember ever experiencing. At Mexico Lindo, this entree is a large shrimp stuffed with cheese and jalapeno then wrapped in bacon, an entree that is hit and miss at most Mexican restaurants. If the bacon isn’t too salty and overdone, the complementary surf and turf tastes are wonderful. Alas, at Mexico Lindo, the bacon is salty and crispy, completely overwhelming the shrimp.
My thanks to David McMahon for recommending Lindo Mexico, a Southeast Albuquerque treasure that’s both lindo y querido.
416 San Pedro, S.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
# OF VISITS:
BEST BET: Parrillada de Carne Asada; Horchata; Tostada de Ceviche