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Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011

Quiote’s Small Menu Holds Big Flavors

Huarache, chile rellenos among standouts at new Mexican restaurant

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When independently owned restaurants close their doors, very few manage to reopen, at least in the same format. So it was a pleasure to find a very familiar menu when visiting a recently opened Mexican restaurant named Quiote.

Chef/owner Cristobal Martinez had been at the Oaxaca Grill, which closed more than two years ago. Oaxaca Grill, though it had a small menu, consistently had some of the best Mexican fare (especially the chile rellenos) in the Milwaukee area.

The new Quiote, a small place currently offering just five tables, has the same floral tablecloths as at Oaxaca Grill. The name “quiote” is not a misspelling of “Don Quijote.” Rather, it is a term that refers to the flower stalk of the maguey plant—the same plant whose hearts are the source of tequila. (Do not expect to order a margarita, however; at the moment, no alcohol is served here.)

The simple menu offers two appetizers, eight entrees and a few a la carte items.

An a la carte offering that stands out is the huarache ($7). Choose one of the meat offerings (chicken, carne asada, pork al pastor or chorizo) or vegetarian options (queso fresco or soy chorizo) and enjoy a large corn masa cake that nearly covers the plate. The pork al pastor may be a bit chewy, but it is loaded with the flavor of dried chiles. Flavors are never timid here. The pork, which arrives over a layer of beans, is topped with salsa and an abundance of shredded lettuce. Add sliced Roma tomatoes, queso fresco and wedges of avocado and you have a huarache.

Other a la carte items include tacos, tortas, quesadillas, tostadas and burritos, all with meat or vegetarian options.

You will find the chile rellenos ($10) among the regional Mexican specialties. This dish offers two poblano peppers filled with cheese. One key is the light, feathery egg batter—the peppers are not buried in mushy starch. Another key is the vibrant sauce of tomato, onion and bell pepper—a perfect fit. But be sure to watch out for the toothpicks that hold the peppers together. White rice and decent beans come on the side.

Another fine item is camarones a la Veracruzana ($13), jumbo shrimp served with the tail on in a tomato sauce that is very different from the chile rellenos. It still has tomatoes, onions and sweet peppers, but also offers capers, green olives and garlic cloves. The Spanish influence is strong in this dish.

The tacos de camaron dish ($9) is the type that you would hope to find along the coast of Southern California. The shrimp are grilled with a mild spice blend and the tortillas are filled with pico de gallo, chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomato. There is a surfeit of lettuce, but it remains a very good item to order.

Mole negro and mole coloradito, which are made here, form the heart of the house specialties. Mole con pollo ($13) includes a large boneless chicken breast. It is served with white rice and black beans topped with cheese. The choice of moles is a tossup. The coloradito is the spicier option, with intense flavors of chocolate merging with dried chiles.

Despite its small size and lack of beer or margaritas, Quiote is a restaurant that is well worth a visit. Try a shrimp taco or a chile relleno and you will be convinced.

Quiote

5814 W. Bluemound Road

(414) 698-2708

$-$$

Currently Cash Only (ATM Nearby)