First off, the tortilla chips are made to order and paired with fresh salsa and guacamole. Again, the freshness shines through, even this early in the meal with just a basket of slightly oily, warm salty tortilla chips. The salsa had bite and the guacamole was creamy and rich as it should be. Next up was a tamale drizzled with a rich red sauce and sprinkled with some mild, crumbly Mexican cheese. I think it was a mole sauce, which isn’t something I’m a big fan of, but the richness of the beef and the soft corn of the tamale were so good I didn’t even mind. Then came the ono, carnitas and camarones. Whew. Just looking at this gorgeous food was a powerful experience. Never let it be said that Taleo Grill’s presentation skills are lacking. Big, succulent shrimp in a rich white wine sauce beckoned to me from across the table. The vibrant colors of the vegetables and the velvety hue of the sauce accompanying the fish were very eye-catching, and the carnitas were a vision of beauty. Imagine a thick, glistening, juicy hunk of pork that’s been slow cooked for hours and allowed to caramelize at the edges. It’s been given a gentle coating of tangy sauce, whether smeard on or marinated, I’m not sure. But this thing was perfect. No knives necessary here, the meat just comes apart with your fork and then melts in your mouth.
This review has been pretty carnivorous so far, but the other stuff deserves your attention as well. We had fragrant rice, some gorgeous roasted corn with herbs, thick slices of grilled toast for sopping up sauces, and margaritas that were clean and cool with just enough bite. Ever had a cucumber margarita? You can get one here, and you should, because it works! The rim is sprinkled with burnt orange-colored spices that set off the essence of cucumber.
Finally, we come to the dessert. Never have I had a flan such as this. It was bigger than I was expecting, with about a six inch diameter. It glistened in the sun with a tiny garnish of mint leaves, just begging for a spoon. It was perfect.