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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

El Beso Adds Spice to Traditional Mexican Menu

Owners of El Fuego open restaurant near Southridge Mall

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From the owners of El Fuego comes a second Mexican restaurant, El Beso. The restaurant, located near Southridge Mall, boasts a Technicolor exterior—a hacienda painted in vibrant colors. The entrance beckons with a fountain and Mexican music, and the inside proves to be as colorful as the outside. Even the flat-panel TVs at the bar fade into the background.

The menu at El Beso is similar to that of El Fuego, though it is not a carbon copy. For example, the food at El Beso is a little spicier. Chips and salsa arrive in a flash, with fresh chips and medium-hot salsa that offers a bite. Several entrees are prepared with salsa de arbol. Arbol is one of the hottest chiles of Mexico. The spicier menu is marked with a scale of one to three chile peppers. Salsa verde earns a “1,” chipotle peppers a “2” and salsa de arbol tops the charts with a “3.”

The only item that isn't rated by this system is the shrimp soup, caldo de cameron ($13.95). It is served properly with shelled shrimp, peas and diced carrot and potato. A side plate holds chopped cilantro, onion and lime wedges. The limes are the thin-skinned Key limes preferred in Mexico. Bottled hot sauce has already been added in this bold, fine soup.

Bistec en salsa de arbol ($15.95) is strips of steak in the fiery red salsa. The beef is tender and the salsa is among the spiciest you will find locally. The arbol chiles add their unique flavor in this dish that is not for the timid palate. Good refried beans come on the side, along with Mexican rice and flour or corn tortillas.

Most of the items are far less fiery. You will find decent tacos by the plate ($11.95-$13.95) or a la carte. The mahi-mahi taco ($4) offers grilled pieces of fish served with marinated red cabbage. Mango salsa, with just a hint of tartness, comes on the side in this tasty fish taco. Another taco features cochinita pibil ($3), Yucatecan pulled pork marinated in orange juice. The chorizo taco ($3) is another winner. It is properly served on a pair of tortillas and most of the oil from cooking the spicy pork sausage has been removed. The servers will likely suggest lettuce, tomato and cheese to be added as fillings. The cochinita and chorizo tacos are best with just chopped cilantro and onion.

Margaritas start at $6 and go as high as $25 for the top tequila.

All in all, this menu is good enough to rival those on Fifth Street and National Avenue. The food is consistent, the service staff aims to please, and the setting is sparkling clean. El Beso makes a fine follow-up act for El Fuego.

El Beso

5030 S. 74th St.

(414) 817-0362

Credit Cards: All Major

Handicap Accessible