Mexico Lindo brings great cuisine, art to Gainesville


Hand-carved and hand-painted Mexican imports adorn Mexico Lindo Mexican Restaurant and Cantina at 7070 SW Archer Road in Gainesville, Fla., shown Thursday, September 24, 2009.

ERICA BROUGH/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 11:05 a.m.

I am not sure whether to recommend Mexico Lindo as a restaurant or as a folk-art gallery.

Facts

Mexico Lindo:

LOCATION: 7070 S.W. Archer Road, Gainesville
PHONE: 377-7866
HOURS: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
FOOD: Mexican
SERVICE: Very good
LIBATIONS: Full bar
ATMOSPHERE: Beautiful

Actually, I am sure: I can recommend it as both.

If you know your Spanish, you know that "lindo" means pretty or lovely, and Mexico Lindo definitely lives up to the name.

I know what you're thinking. We've all seen a dozen too many Mexican joints frumpy with fake adobe and faded, dusty pinatas. But Mexico Lindo is neither tacky nor cliche. It is filled with the real stuff - custom, hand-carved, hand-painted chairs and tables, and beautiful, embossed metal paintings directly from Mexico. I saw no two alike.

The decor is truly remarkable. There is a feast for the eyes everywhere you look, including the bathrooms. It was all bought from artisans deep in Mexico and imported by owner Alberto Roman and his family/partners. You should ask him about it; it's an amazing story.

Before opening Mexico Lindo a few months ago, Roman and his extended family already had two of the area's most popular Mexican restaurants.

Las Margaritas on Northwest 43rd Street is a local institution that is justifiably famous for its margaritas and the "gringo-ized" Mexican food to go with them. Just try to get a table at 7:30 on a weekend night and you will know what I mean by institution.

La Tienda Latina on Southwest 13th Street doesn't serve margaritas, but it offers some of the most authentic Mexican food you can find this side of the border. Try to find a table there at lunchtime when it is packed by a largely Hispanic clientele, and you will know what I mean by authentic.

Mexico Lindo aims at a niche somewhere in between. The menu is largely comprised of tacos, burritos, enchiladas and fajitas - and every imaginable combination thereof - but if you are looking for something different, you can find it.

My favorite is Grouper Palapa, a generous fish filet that is grilled and smothered with onions, poblano peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes sauteed with red wine and topped with melted cheese. It comes with Mexican rice and good refried beans ($10.80). (On one visit, it was too salty, but it was fabulous the next time.)

On the lunch menu, Enchiladas Rancheras has essentially the same delicious toppings plus shredded pork over the top of three cheese enchiladas with a Guacamole Salad served alongside ($6.90).

For those who like their Mexican combination plates, this place has 25 of them in all shapes and sizes. You had better be famished if you try the El Combo Dinner. It includes an enchilada, a burrito, a taco, a chile relleno, a chalupa and a tamale, plus rice and beans ($11.20). A couple I was dining with ordered it to share - and they couldn't finish it.

Mexico Lindo even offers a fairly extensive menu of vegetarian items including fajitas and eight combination plates ($6.55 to $8.50). There are kids' plates, too.

Prices are ridiculous - a grilled fish dinner for less than $11, lunches for $4.25 to $6.90, appetizers and salads for $3 to $7, and I haven't even mentioned the three steaks, including a 12 oz. rib eye, for $10.25 or less. It's amazing for 2009, so amazing that I feel compelled to write something I don't think I have ever written before: This restaurant is underpriced. (But don't tell Alberto Roman I said that.)

Service is good, and they make a Guacamole appetizer tableside ($7.99), but I think the complementary salsa and warm, fresh corn chips are much better.

The food is good, especially for the price, but it is not as outstanding as the decor. I would choose La Tienda any time. But you won't go away broke or hungry.

David Carlson has been writing about food, wine and restaurants for more than 15 years. He can be reached at<0x000A>dave@carlsonfamily.net. Dining is done anonymously and without advance warning. All meals are paid for by the Gainesville Sun.

Phone: 377-7866

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

Food: Mexican

Service: Very good

Libations: Full bar

Atmosphere: Beautiful

Location: 7070 S.W. Archer Road, Gainesville

Phone: 377-7866

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

Food: Mexican

Hand-carved and hand-painted Mexican imports adorn the Mexico Lindo restaurant on Archer Road in Gainesville.

Mexico Lindo's specialties include enchiladas suizas and golden enchiladas as part of a menu that also features 25 combination plates.

Hand-carved and hand-painted Mexican imports adorn the Mexico Lindo restaurant on Archer Road in Gainesville.

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