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Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010

Jalapeño Loco Adds a Mequon Location

Popular Mexican restaurant expands to site of former Alpine Village

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One of the area’s most popular and reliable Mexican restaurants, Jalapeño Loco, is adding a second location. The original restaurant opened in the mid-1990s at a small place in Cudahy; a few years later owners Hugo and Janet Saynes moved to a much larger spot near the airport. Now, after a successful run, they have added a second Jalapeño Loco in Mequon.

The new site retains many of the best features of its former occupant, Alpine Village, a restaurant that had been in business for decades. Among the remaining features are the comfortable front bar, the pair of picture windows with views of a faux chalet, the beamed ceiling and the large tile fireplace that dominates the dining room. Some Mexican touches have been added to the mix, including bright yellow walls and leatherette tablecloths featuring an assortment of colors. At this time of year, a “Day of the Dead” altar adorned with Mexican handicrafts is also featured.

One of the keys to Jalapeño Loco’s popularity is the menu. In addition to basic items like pork burritos and chicken enchiladas, diners can also enjoy more sophisticated fare like chiles en nogada and some splendid moles. Every table comes with a list of seasonal specials, and the ones that prove to be popular are added to the regular menu. One new addition is the pleasing cream of jalapeño soup ($2.75-$5), which is a bit like a vegetarian New England clam chowder—creamy with just a hint of the jalapeno’s fire.

For an entrée, try the shrimp soup ($10.75), which has jumbo shelled shrimp with potatoes and carrots in a spicy broth. Add your own cilantro and chopped onion, and definitely squeeze juice from the wedges of lime. Add bottled hot sauce to taste and you will have a Mexican seaside classic.

Since the new location’s menu remains the same, you will still find that great mole negro, a complex sauce that is nearly black with a chocolate base and hints of cinnamon. It is found with the tamales Oaxaqueños ($10.50), large chicken tamales wrapped in banana leaves, and the mole Oaxaqueño ($14.25), which is prepared with boneless chicken breasts or pork. Chicken is the meat of choice with this mole.

Shrimp lovers will savor the shrimp gabardina ($15.50), jumbo shrimp that are stuffed with Chihuahua cheese and then wrapped in bacon.

A few dishes are marked as “Hot!” The pork ribs with salsa verde ($10.50) do have a bit of a hot pepper kick, but it is just the right amount for a really good salsa verde. The ribs are a little fatty, but that is also what makes them so tender. It’s one of the very best items on this menu.

Another “Hot!” item is a current special, Janet’s insane chile rellenos ($1.50). This trio of stuffed jalapeño peppers is coated in a light egg batter and served with a sauce of habanero pepper with asiago cheese. The first stuffed pepper has a filling of tuna, the second cheese and the third smoked salmon. There is not a lot of cheese and the habanero is not all that spicy (certainly not “insane”)—the salsa verde has more kick. The fillings are interesting, but ultimately there is simply too much tuna and too much salmon. This dish needs to lighten up a bit.

Overall, however, the food at the new location is definitely on a par with the original Jalapeño Loco. Most entrees include good Mexican rice with refried beans that are runny but tasty. The service is fine and the new setting is actually nicer, even with all the faux Alpine touches.

In addition to reliable Mexican food, Jalapeño Loco is noted for its margaritas. Spend the extra money for a gold margarita, which has a really good mix that is not too sweet. This will set the stage for a memorable meal.

Jalapeño Loco

10401 N. Cedarburg Road, Mequon

(262) 238-1300

$$

Credit Cards: MC, VS

Handicap Accessible

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