Why: This May, Lindo Mexico Restaurant & Cantina will celebrate 22 years in business. The establishment occupies the better part of a strip mall and also has a street taco truck on the sidewalk outside. The restaurant offers family-friendly dining, as well as a lively cantina.
Atmosphere: Although the restaurant shows its age, it is not necessarily to its disadvantage. The space is clean, but the years have left evidence of wear. The decor is elaborately fashioned and lends the space a south-of-the-boarder vibe. The only element that seems out of place is the white T-bar drop ceiling. Overall, the restaurant has an air of authenticity.
Large booths provide most of the seating, and there are a few tables and chairs.
What I tried: I settled on an enchilada sampler, with one cheese mole, one chicken and one beef enchilada, that was served with Spanish rice and refried beans. My dining companion tried a few of the street tacos — one chicken, one steak, one pork and one chorizo. He also ordered a side of Spanish rice to accompany the tacos.
Before-meal chips and salsa were served immediately after we were seated and our beverages arrived just behind them. The salsa was more puréed than chunky, only slightly spicy, and it had a fresh tomato and onion character. The chips were light and crispy.
My entree was served on a hot plate — an element of Mexican cuisine dining that I expect.
I was most impressed with the chicken enchilada. The chicken was shredded and flavorful. The cheese mole enchilada was predictable and the beef enchilada was the least impressive. It was made with ground beef, which seemed out of place in the enchilada. The accompanying Spanish rice had less mix-ins than usual, and the beans, topped with a little bit of shredded cheese, were standard.
My dining companion, who was happy with the opportunity to have genuine street tacos (served in a basket), was invited to dress up his tacos with toppings found in a nearby refrigerator. The tacos consisted of two white corn tortillas each and were filled with a generous amount of chopped meat. My dining companion found the tacos very appetizing, except for the pork, which was not particularly lean.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The Camarones Vallarta from the house specialties sounded delicious. The jumbo shrimp are wrapped in bacon, deep fried and served on a bed of rice topped with melted cheese. Black beans and salad are served alongside.
Fajita options include chicken, steak and shrimp, which may be combined as well. On the spicier side, there is the Chile Colorado — chunks of beef simmered in a spicy chile guajillo sauce. The mango fajita salad sounded intriguing. It comes with the choice of chicken or steak, and is cooked with onions, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms and mango, and served on a bed of green salad.
Other observations: The wait staff was super-friendly and efficient and brought a sense of customer appreciation in their attitude. The restaurant was a little drafty on my rainy-day visit. Prices are comparable to other Mexican cuisine restaurants with similar portions.
Cost: Appetizers cost $5.79 to $9.99. Sides are $1.59 to $5.99. Fajitas are $13.99 to $29.99. Soup is $6.99. Salads are $9.99 and $12.99. Chicken dinners are $12.99. Tacos, enchiladas, tamales and quesadillas start at $9.29 and top out at $13.99. Burritos cost $9.29 to $13.99. Seafood dishes are $13.99 and egg dishes cost $7.99. Combinations are $12.99. House Specials range from $13.99 to $19.99. Desserts are $2.99 for flan and $4.29 for fried ice cream.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Where: 316 S.E. 123rd Ave., Vancouver.
Web:Lindo Mexico is on Facebook.
Health score: Lindo Mexico received a score of 0 on Dec. 2. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428