Sunday, March 22, 2009

Las Cazuelas Mexican Grill

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Las Cazuelas Mexican Grill
4114 Nolensville Road

You can tell right away that Las Cazuelas is a party spot: the festive dance tunes belting out of the stereo, the interior dressed up in vaquero/cowboy style, the stage just waiting for a band. Indeed they have live music Thursday through Sunday nights and a wide range of tequila at the well-stocked bar. So, it begs the question: is the food any good?

The huge menu runs from tostado ceviche and fresh oysters on the half shell for appetizers, to grilled meats. It might be worth visiting on a Friday when they serve up Mole Poblano as the special. Sunday features barbecue goat. The seafood section is extensive and interesting. Fish relleno is a fillet stuffed with chopped shrimp and octopus. Pina Cantamar puts the shrimp/octopus mixture into a cored pineapple. Mojarra Frita is described as marinated tilapia deep fried.

The guacamole is clearly fresh made. The chunky avocado and tomato is accented by fresh squeezed lime. We could tell from the lime seed we found while devouring the guacamole. The zippy salsa has plenty of fresh cilantro.

Everyone around us was ordering seafood, primarily big bowls of sopa de mariscos. The shrimp and fish veracruzano comes in a delicate olive oil and tomato broth with onions and green peppers. The fish fillet is flaky and light and the shrimp nicely cooked. It’s a mellow dish that needed some perking up with hot sauce. The accompaniment is a real treat: homemade corn tortillas. They are light as a feather and quite tasty. A squeeze of lime and orange and you have good fish tacos. The special white rice served with seafood dishes is savory and full of flavor.

Veggie Eater: There is not an extensive amount of veggie friendly food. The combo menu proudly notes that pretty much all combo platters can be made veggie, with the exceptions of platters with tamales (sorry, they have pork). My standard combo is cheese enchilada, chile rellenos, beans, and cheese. This is not inventive Mexican food, but it was good. The enchiladas were spared from drowning in sauce; a plus. The relleno was huge and it struck me as being a bit overdone; not the fried exterior, but the pepper itself. The rice was fluffy and included peas. The beans were creamy and smooth. I liked the salsa. Although I tend to prefer a salsa that has recognizable ingredients left in it, this was closer to a puree in texture, but was flavorful, nonetheless. Not terribly hot, but lots of fresh cilantro and garlic. What I really enjoyed was the atmosphere. It was kind of like being at the Latino version of Cheers. The host knew most of the customers, the customers knew the other customers. Our waitress had a large smile, was attentive, understood the “veggie” request”, and was genuinely pleasant.

Meat Eater: We’ll have to make it back for a music night. We paid $35 for two entrees, guacamole and two drinks.
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