El Sombrero Review

    So the wife and I are down in Southington, CT today, looking
    for a new TV...and I sees this sign on the side of the road
    says "Mexican Restaurant and Cantina".  This, you
    understand, in the heart of "we don't put black pepper on
    our potatoes 'cause it's too spicy" central Connecticut where
    yer average Mexican restaurant is Taco Bell with plates. 
    Hmmmm..sez I...This is probably gonna be awful but I missed
    lunch...and they have beer...
    So we goes in and...the entire staff is Mexican. A good sign
    I thinks to myself...I can't remember the last time I saw a
    Noo England Mexican restaurant that wasn't run by Swedish
    guys in suits. Decor is subdued Strip Mall Mexican with
    sombreros on the wall and cutesy lamps but not obtrusive.
    Background music is not annoying and, to an utter amateur,
    sounds authentic. 'Sposed to be live Mariachis on Sunday but
    musta been later in the day. Waiters are all wearing Warner
    Brothers cartoon character ties...'nother good sign.  
    The waiter brings the menus with a basket of warm tortilla
    chips (real ones, not Tostitos for a change) and a bowl of
    genuwine, never saw a jar salsa. Not very hot and a bit
    heavy on the cilantro but tasty. "Uh..." sez I, "Do you have
    any hot sauce?" 
    (Understand that "Do you have any hot sauce" is Noo
    Englandish for "Dust off that bottle of brown Tabasco Sauce
    under the bar.")
    Waiter comes back with a bowl of never saw a bottle red
    sauce with lots of pepper pulp and seeds. Nice favor, maybe
    a 6 for heat. No sign of Cayenne or pickeled Jalapenos.
    "Wot's in this?" sez I. "Chiles de Arbol" says the
    waiter..."would you like something to drink?"
    "Ah hah!" sez I..."these places never have real beer"...and
    I looks down the Cervesa List and, sure enuf...there's all
    those oxymoronic Lite Beers they sell by the vat around
    here...and then there's Corona and Dos Equis and Tecate and
    Negra Modelo and Carta Blanca...and Long Trail on draft.
    Things are looking up. :) (All the usual bar stuff and wine
    list and Margaritas but I am a slob, not suicidal). 
    So...whilst I'm slobbering salsa and chips and beer (and
    dripping them on my shirt to the immense disgust of She Who
    Does The Laundry), I peruse the menu. There's all the usual
    Silly Gringos Don't Know Any Better stuff like nachos and
    tacos and poppers...but there's Black Bean Soup and Queso
    Fundido with Choriso and Camarones Veracruz...
    "I better skip the appetizers", sez I, "or I won't make it
    outa here alive". I figure I'll regret it later. (It's now 2
    AM. I was right.)
    Back to the main menu: Five kinds of Fajitas (including one
    with fish), Three kinds of enchiladas with four kinds of
    sauces (I an torn betwen Adobo and Mole), Seven kinds of
    shrimp including Camarones al Ajillo (shrimp sauteed with
    garlic, wine and tomatoes), extensive vegetarian menu (no
    accounting for taste I guess), several fish dishes (none of
    'em fried for a change), lotsa combo platters. And the
    "Something Different" column. This turns out to be mostly
    steak dishes for the touristas but there's Puebla Mole
    Poblano...and Puerco Adobo: "Chunks of pork cooked in our
    spicy red adobo sauce." "At'sa for me" sez I. 
    She Who Thinks I'm a Pig settles for Vegetarian Nachos with
    sour cream & refries. 
    Comes a big hot platter of thick roast pork slices so tender
    they fall apart on the fork, smothered in dark red adobo
    sauce. Rice and refries (lucky I saved the de Arbol sauce),
    shredded lettuce and fresh tortillas to sop up the sauce
    (they didn't have to wash the plate much when I was done).
    Marvelous stuff. 
    Fried ice cream with tequila for dessert. Tab comes to 40
    bucks including 4 beers and desert.  Life is good. 
    El Sombrero
    Oak Hill Mall
    Southington, CT. 06489
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