Sunday, November 27, 2011
1557 North Gallatin Pike
It’s no secret that the best Mexican food is found at the mom and pop joints around town. The restaurants that cater to Hispanics tend to take more care in the food and offer more variety. There is value to some of the Americanized places though, and if done right there’s no reason you can’t get a decent meal. Las Maracas on Gallatin Pike in East Nashville is a good example. So, when Las Fiestas presented itself earlier this year we decided to take a look. It’s hard to miss, with a big, bright sign. It’s a former Applebee’s and the owners appear to have bought the place lock, stock and barrel, leaving much of the Applebee’s décor intact.
Probably the most notable feature of the expansive dining room is a picture window revealing folks dishing out dough for fresh tortillas. It’s fun to watch and provided a promising start to our first visit. They have a large menu, most of which will be quite familiar. Seafood, fajitas, burritos and enchiladas dominate the menu. Guacamole and salsa are average at best. The molcajete steak is served in a sizzling hot stone server, which looks like a pig. Implying something are we? Grilled poblanos, nopales, green onions and thick slices of Chihuahua cheese are done up in a tasty sauce with just a hint of tomato and spice. The steak begins tender and gets a little chewy as the meal continues. It’s still a good entrée and destined for a to-go box given the sizeable portion.
The second visit shows that the place is already busy for lunch. The chile poblano has an egg batter and a thin red sauce. It’s stuffed with cheese and perhaps a bit soggy in texture. A tamale with ground beef and red sauce poured on top is a bit bland. The beef tostado is piled high with beef and lettuce and also lacks personality.
Veggie Eater: There is a reasonable vegetarian combination section, offering 9 selections. My choice was Spinach Enchiladas and they were quite good. Homemade corn tortillas are light and wrapped around freshly sautéed spinach and onions. Las Fiestas opts to top their variation with queso. It’s a bit thin, but that works well here as it doesn’t make the enchiladas gloppy. If I was in the area, I’d probably pop in for lunch.
Meat Eater: Oh, well. Las Fiestas does have a wrap around bar thanks to Applebee’s and drink specials for happy hour. There is also plenty of room for the kids to run around and perhaps check out the tortilla making.
We paid $35 with tax and tip on one visit and I paid $14 on a second visit.