El Oasis Antojitos Mexicanos – Michigan Avenue

13 04 2009
  • 2501 E. Michigan Avenue
  • Lansing, MI 48912
  • No Known Phone Number
  • No Known Website
  • Menu (sorta)
El Oasis Mexican stand on East Michigan Avenue in Lansing.

El Oasis Mexican stand on East Michigan Avenue in Lansing.

After a long day at work and only a few hours of sleep, I was on the hunt for something to eat quickly so I could get to bed as soon as possible.  The first thing that popped in my head was Mexican.  I’ve been wanting to try a new place in Holt located in Brower’s Hardware.  When I got there, there was a sign on the cash register that the owner had to make an emergency run to the hospital for a family member and they were not open.  I then drove back out to Jolly Road to try Julie Joe’s for a second time.  Note on the door that they were closed for Easter (this was Saturday, not Easter Sunday).  The last place I could think of where I could get Mexican food quickly was El Oasis on Michigan Avenue.  The thing that really sucks is that if I had just picked that first, I wouldn’t have had to drive all the way back out there.

El Oasis is a cart that set up shop in a parking lot on the corner of East Michigan and North Francis Avenues.  They have another location inside Tony’s Party Store on Cedar Street (review HERE)which we tried last summer and had some problems with.  They got our order totally wrong and J ended up with ground beef, which she doesn’t eat, on her tacquitos and I ended up with her chicken on my tacos.  We had to trade dishes and I’m not a fan of avocado, sour cream, or raw tomatoes, so, needless to say, we weren’t very impressed. Read the rest of this entry »


Cancun Mexican Grill – Jolly Road

2 04 2009
  • 2398 Jolly Road #100
  • Okemos, MI 48864
  • (517) 347-3510
  • Website
  • Menu
Cancun Mexican Grill on Jolly Road in Okemos

Cancun Mexican Grill on Jolly Road in Okemos

Mexican wasn’t the plan tonight, but that’s where we ended up.  We were actually going to Backyard BBQ on Jolly Road in Okemos on the suggestion of a commentor.  When we pulled up there a little after 7:00 we found the business closed.  They close at 7:00, so we just missed them.

Instead, we headed across the street to Cancun Mexican Grill.  The shop is in one of the many strip malls in the area right next to a Mediterranean deli.  Cancun is in the corner and they make good use of the space.  When you walk in, you come to a very small waiting area.  We were met by a waiter who showed us to a booth.  The space is pretty much one long hallway with booths on either side. 

The decor is loud.  Very, very loud.  Everything is painted in bright colors and there are Mexican flag designs on the curtains.  The booths and tables are really neat.  Each table and booth back has a Mexican scene on them.  These scenes are actually carved in the wood then painted.  It’s a very cool looking design feature.  They really play on Mexican stereotypes with the way they’ve decorated. Read the rest of this entry »

Mamacita’s Famous Taco

23 03 2009
  • 3500 S. Cedar Street
  • Lansing, MI 48910
  • (517) 393-0766
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
Mamacitas Famous Taco on South Cedar Street in Lansing.

Mamacita's Famous Taco on South Cedar Street in Lansing.

Today was the first day of what’s going to be a lot of improvising when it comes to dinner.  I’m working this summer downtown and it’s going to keep me from being home a few nights a week.  I had a 6:00 meeting tonight and when I was walking out at 7:00, I got a text from J asking if I could meet her for dinner.  I happened to be getting in my truck when I got the message, so I called her back and suggested meet for tacos.

Mamacita’s Famous Taco is on Cedar Street in that strip mall right next to the Lansing PD’s South Precinct.  I always thought it was two different business, but it’s just the sign that’s split up.  We walked in under the sign that said “Famous Taco” to find a dining room that spanned what probably used to be two separate store fronts.  There were already laminated menus on the table, so we grabbed a booth near the front.  It was a little after 7:00 on a Monday night and we were the only ones there.  A few people came in for carry out, but we obviously missed the dinner rush.

The decor is pretty bland.  They don’t have the usual, stereotypical Mexican decor.  Other than the booths and tables, the only thing in the restaurant were stainless steel buffet tables which get used during the day.  There was no dinner buffet, so we ordered off the menu.

A waiter came over with our Pepsi’s then went and got some chips and salsa.  The chips were home made as was the salsa.  He brought out mild and asked if that was ok.  It was fine with me.  The chips and salsa were delicious.  There were a few too many chunks of onion in the salsa for me.  I’m not an onion fan and I’d rather not see them even though I know I’m eating them.  J was eating the chips by themselves.  She really liked them. Read the rest of this entry »

El Azteco

15 03 2009
  • 225 Ann Street
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 351-9111
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
El Azteco on Ann Street in downtown East Lansing.

El Azteco on Ann Street in downtown East Lansing.

I have no idea why I’ve been craving Mexican lately, but it’s been like an everyday thing.  J’s step-dad headed back to Chicago, but her mom stayed for another day.  We made a run to Howell after breakfast then did some grocery shopping at Horrocks and Walmart.  By the time we got home, we were all starting to get a little hungry.  I sat down in front of the computer and asked what they were in the mood for.  To my surprise, J said Mexican which is what I was thinking.  Instead of going to one of the two places that are close to our apartment, I wanted to go to East Lansing and try one of the most popular restaurants in downtown.

El Azteco is on Ann Street near the Marriot in a that strip of restaurants at the corner of M.A.C. and Ann.  From all the things I’ve read, El Azteco made it’s name at a different location a few blocks that wasn’t nearly as flashy or noticeable as the new building.  While I love atmosphere, restaurants don’t survive without good food.  It was the good food we were really after.

We walked into El Azteco just after 6:00 on a Sunday night.  It was still spring break at MSU, so the clientel was mostly older people and families.  Someone in the kitchen noticed us and told us to take a seat in one of the front dining rooms.  There are actually three dining room areas.  Two of them are are in the front and look out to Ann Street.  The third is off to the left when you walk in and it runs along the kitchen.  We took a booth along the wall.  As you can imagine, the decor has sort of a southwest feel.  The tables are primitive with no frills.  The benches of the booth are all wood with no padding.  They are also pretty close to the table.  They really force good posture. Read the rest of this entry »

Aldaco’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant

11 03 2009
  • 6527 S. Cedar Street
  • Lansing, MI 48911
  • (517) 272-4600
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
Aldacos Authentic Mexican Restaurant on South Cedar Street in Lansing.

Aldaco's Authentic Mexican Restaurant on South Cedar Street in Lansing.

Last night, I was really craving tacos.  We were really close to making a Taco Bell run at midnight, but decided it was a bad idea.  The craving never really went away.  When J suggested going out for dinner, I suggested that Mexican place where Cedar meets Pennsylvania that has stared us in the face since we moved here almost a year ago.

Aldaco’s is right on the corner of Cedar Street where it intersect with Pennsylvania Avenue.  It sits between the White Castle the empty end of a strip mall that used to house a Hollywood Video.  The building is small, but the parking lot is always full.  There’s an entrance on both Pennsylvania and Cedar Street.  We were coming from the Pennsylvania side, so we used that entrance then drove around the front to the parking lot.  

Inside we were met by a hostess.  She grabbed a couple menus and asked if we were going to order the buffet or order from the menu.  J said menu and I just went along with it.  After passing the buffet, which is right near the entrance, I should have changed my mind but I didn’t.  The buffet was filled with taco shells, tortillas, and fillings as well as tacquitos, burritos, rice, beans and even some desserts. 

There are two dining rooms in Aldaco’s.  We were taken to the one on the right side of the space which is where most everyone else was.  We were shown to a booth along the inside wall near the bathrooms in the back.  We started looking over the menus.  It wasn’t long before we decided, but we still had not seen a waitress.  There was a man and a woman waitressing.  We think we were actually at the woman’s table, but after quite a while, the man finally came over and took our order.  When the woman came over a minute later, I told her our order had already taken the order.  I heard him say something to the woman about how long she let us sit there, so he took the table.  Read the rest of this entry »

Del Taco – Oak Lawn, IL

13 02 2009
  • 9507 S. Cicero Avenue
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708 ) 229-1988
  • Website
  • Menu
The only Illinois Del Taco location in Oak Lawn.

The only Illinois Del Taco location in Oak Lawn.

Authentic Mexican scares me.  Fast food quasi-Mexican intrigues me.  Go figure.  It’s not that I don’t like Mexican food.  I just don’t have a lot of experience with it.  I had never heard of Del Taco until I started dating J and saw the one by her parents.  I realized it was probably a chain, but it’s not a chain I had ever seen before.   Since it was something I had never had before, I wanted to check it out.

Del Taco is a West Coast chain that is slowly expanding into the Midwest.  The Oak Lawn location is the only one in Illinois.  It sits near the corner of Cicero Avenue and 95th Street in front of  a small shopping center.  When you see Del Taco, you immediately think of it’s competitors.  It looks pretty much the same from the outside.  A small building with a Southwestern flair. 

The inside is much brighter.  J actually described as a kid’s interpretation of a restaurant.  There are splashes of color anywhere and everywhere from floor to ceiling.  The set up is what you’d expect.  There’s a small dining room with plastic furniture and an order counter with little rope maze that you have wind your way through even though you’re the only person there. Read the rest of this entry »

Taco’s E Mas

23 01 2009
  • 1850 Cedar Street
  • Holt, MI 48842
  • (517) 699-TACO
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
Tacos E Mas on Cedar Street in Holt

Taco's E Mas on Cedar Street in Holt

A few weeks ago, J and I were going to Mason for dinner when we passed what used to be an abandoned building.  I always thought it was an old drive thru coffee shop, but the business I found on Google was called Hot ‘N Now Hamburgers.  Dig a little deeper and I find Mocha Mac’s which is the coffee shop I was thinking of.  It was all lit up and the windows were painted for the first time since we moved here.  I didn’t catch the name, but Corky pointed out in comments that it was now called Taco’s E Mas. 

J had made tentative plans to go out with co-workers for dinner which would have left me on my own.  I never got around to thinking about dinner.  Her plans fell threw and she was now coming home for dinner like she always does.  I got up around 5:30 to start on dinner and I just didn’t feel like it.  I was tired and not in the mood to cook.  I sent her an e-mail to see if tacos would be ok for dinner.  She was on board, so we went to check out the new taco stand in Holt.

Taco’s E Mas sits on Cedar Street on the way out of town when you’re going to Mason.  It’s a small drive thru operation that just opened at the end of November.  There was one car at the window when we pulled in a little after seven on a Friday night.  We drove around to the back where the first menu board is located.  On that board, they only list the eight combo meals.  I spotted the taco meal right away and was ready to pull forward.  The menu by the speaker had a lot more details about the combos and they included the ala cart and dessert options there.  There was no one else in front of us and J wasn’t quite ready so we asked the speaker for a few more minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

Vallarta Supermarket

22 01 2009
  • 312 W. Willow Street
  • Lansing, MI 48906
  • (517) 267-9999
  • No Known Website
Vallarta Supermarket on Grand River Avenue and Willow Street in Lansing.

Vallarta Supermarket on Grand River Avenue and Willow Street in Lansing.

I’m still amazed by all of the neighborhood grocery stores that have managed to survive with so many big box stores in Lansing.  I was driving around today looking for a restaurant for lunch while J was at a hair cut appointment.  I drove down Grand River after leaving the Aunt Millie’s Bakery Outlet and came across Vallarta Supermarket. 

I just left Walmart and didn’t need anything, so I didn’t really have a reason to stop in, but the name got me thinking.  I use a lot of ancho chile powder in my BBQ rubs and it’s not a spice you can find very easily in the mega marts.  I used to buy it at a Mexican grocery store in Bloomington, IL.  Since moving to Lansing, I’ve been grinding some dried ancho chile’s I bought for a mole with my coffee grinder.  It works just fine, but takes a while and can get pretty messy if I’m not careful.  I’d like to find a place to buy it in powder form.  The name Vallarta gave me hope that I would find the chile I needed.

Vallarta sits on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Willow Street in Lansing.  Like most of the other neighborhood markets in town, Vallarta carries Spartan products on their shelves.  You walk into the store behind the cash registers.  As you walk into the sales floor, you end up in produce and the first display in the middle of the aisles had a number of chiles and Mexican spices.  At this point, I had pretty high hopes that I’d be able to get my chile powder.  I started looking through the bags and found a number of different ground chile’s, but no ancho.  They had arbol which is another spice I use in my BBQ rub, but I don’t use as much and still have plenty of that in my cabinet.  Read the rest of this entry »

Press Release – Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina coming to Mid-Michigan?

21 01 2009

Got this press release from Charlotte, NC based Salsarita’s Inc. in my inbox this evening.  They’re a chain I have never heard of, but they have Michigan locations in Allen Park, Ann Arbor, Brighton, Detroit, Macomb, and Troy

Fast-Casual Mexican Chain Targets Lansing, Flint and Jackson for Growth

(Lansing, MI)—Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, one of the nation’s quickest-growing, fast-casual Mexican restaurant chains, has plans to add at least 35 locations throughout the state over the next few years. They are concentrating their efforts in Lansing, Flint, and Jackson. These locations will join seven existing Salsarita’s in the state. A fast-casual restaurant, Salsarita’s specializes in serving made-to-order burritos, tacos, tortilla pizzas, taco salads and more made from the freshest ingredients and served up in an inviting, festive atmosphere or off-site via a convenient catering service.

“Lansing, Flint and Jackson are fresh and exciting places, just like Salsarita’s,” said Salsarita’s president and CEO Paul Mangiamele. “I think it will be a great addition to their local dining scenes.”

Lunch accounts for about 60 percent of Salsarita’s sales, and service is always fast and friendly. Three to four orders can be filled per minute – meaning that the 20th person in line can be served in five minutes – and the average check is $7.75. Salsarita’s makes sure its guests’ needs are met in other ways, too. For the time-crunched family looking for a delicious home-meal replacement, take-home Taco Bar provides all the fixings for four, six or eight people. A complete catering program is also available for groups from 15 to over 150.

Founded in 2000 in Charlotte, North Carolina by multi-unit franchisee Bruce Willette, Salsarita’s has 78 restaurants in 18 states and expects to end 2009 with over 100 locations. Salsarita’s currently has development engagements in excess of 100 additional units and expects to grow to 200 restaurants by 2012. In 2007, the chain topped Restaurant Business’ list of The Future 50, which ranks the fastest-growing restaurant chains in America. With new locations opening across the country, Salsarita’s is a front-runner in the fresh-Mexican category, a recipient of numerous Franchise 500® rankings and a brand that’s quickly gaining recognition for its quality product and legendary hospitality. Read the rest of this entry »

Los Tres Amigos – South Cedar

5 01 2009
  • 6405 S. Cedar St.
  • Lansing, MI 48911
  • (517) 393-4100
  • Website
  • Menu
Los Tres Amigos on South Cedar Street in Lansing

Los Tres Amigos on South Cedar Street in Lansing

I’ve said before on this blog I’m not a huge fan of ethnic cuisine.  I prefer my burger and fries, but we kept hearing such good things about Los Tres Amigos on South Cedar Street that we had to try it. 

After a whirlwind trip back to Chicago, we got home just in time for dinner on a Sunday night.  I didn’t feel like cooking and J suggested going out.  I asked her if she was in the mood for Mexican and she said she wanted to give it a try, so we headed to Los Tres Amigos for dinner.

Los Tres Amigos is part of a chain that also goes by the name La Hacienda  Los Amigos.  They have locations in Lansing, Jackson, and Howell.  We chose the location on South Cedar Street just because it’s close to our place.  We always see advertisements for their great happy hour specials, but J’s at work during those times, so we can never make it. 

When you walk in, your met at a hostess station then you can go one of two ways.  You probably guessed it by now.  One was was smoking the other was non-smoking.  We, of course, chose non-smoking and were shown to a table in the dining room. The waiter came over and took our drink orders.  Neither of us were in the mood for alcohol so we both went with Cokes.  Read the rest of this entry »