It takes someone special to make Mexican food that really stands out. There are many places that crank out average entrees but when you come across something that is out of the ordinary memories linger.
Chef Jose Rodriguez uses his over three decades of experience to craft a large and varied menu at Chavelos Mexican Bar and Grill in Henderson. The space, just down the street from the Ethel M Chocolate Factory, not only delivers on delicious items but you will swear you just entered a Mexican hamlet when you walk through the front door.
Colorful banners criss cross the ceiling. Sounds of Northern Mexican music fill your ears and the friendly staff members are eager to take your order. The service is especially good here. In fact, on our three visits servers recognized us and acted as though we were long-lost buddies. That doesn’t happen in too many places.
The appetizer list is long. Maybe the Coctel de Camarones might be to your liking. Plump shrimp pico de gallo are combined with tomato, orange and lime juice. Quesadillas are made the traditional way with corn or flour tortillas that are filled with a choice of fish, chicken, beef, pico de gallo and guacamole.
A half dozen salads are inviting. Salad de Mariscos includes a crisp flour shell filled with lettuce, diced shrimp, langostino, avocado, guacamole and sour cream. You can also find an attractive list of soups including albondogas, pozole and sopa campesino.
One of the things I found exciting was an expanded menu of enchiladas. I usually favor meat versions but recently I ordered one with just veggies. The fresh greens were grilled and simmered in a veggie sauce and then topped with melted cheddar cheese, onion and sour cream. The slightly spicy sauce added to the pleasant experience. The cheese enchilada is another classic that doesn’t disappoint.
Take a moment to check out the Specialties fare. It is chock full of traditional favorites with some surprises you normally wouldn’t expect in a Mexican restaurant. For instance, they serve baby back ribs that are cooked “low and slow” with a special homemade guajillo sauce. They sit on top of caramelized onions.
A type of tostada called Vampiros features soft corn tortillas with refried beans and melted Monterrey cheese. A choice of meat is next and then shredded lettuce, queso fresco, guacamole and sour cream finish things off nicely. You can also find proper chicharrónes with crisp pork chunks simmered in special salsa and whole beans.
Beef options abound. Steak a la Tampiquena is a combination of a New York cut that is broiled to taste and simmered in a chili sauce. Also on the plate are garlic grilled shrimp and a cheese enchilada.
Many guests like to mix and match with combos and they oblige here. The plates include rice, beans and fideo soup. This version of the Mexican noodle classic is some of the best I have had anywhere with a broth that is a tad spicy and wakes up the taste buds.
Chavelos delivers with exceptional Mexican food and reasonable prices.
Chavelos Mexican Bar and Grill, 2021 W. Sunset Rd., Henderson. (702) 558-3366. www.chavelosrestaurant.com.