Los Molcajetes Mexican Restaurant
960 US 287 Frontage Rd
Mansfield, TX 76063
February 18, 2017
Los Molcajetes is a locally owned set of Mexican restaurants located in Fort Worth, Roanoke and now Mansfield, Texas. Molcajetes means “Mortar and Pestle” which is used regularly as part of the cooking process of authentic Mexican dishes. The Mansfield location is situated in a shopping center in a free standing building facing the highway frontage road. Housed in what looks like a defunct Johnny Carino’s restaurant the interior is simple light green booths and walnut tables. Be forewarned that lots of families with smaller children frequent the restaurant so along with boisterous patrons charged by potent margaritas the tile floors make for a very loud noise level throughout the restaurant.
The focus here is on traditional Mexican cuisine with the obligatory Tex-Mex dishes scattered throughout. The menu is quite extensive with a large range of selections so you might want to grab a menu upon arrival to peruse while waiting for your table.
We passed on appetizers opting instead to curtail our hunger with the complimentary chips and salsa. The chips were light and crisp and tasty. The salsa however was a different story. You receive two kinds of salsa. A large bowl of regular salsa that tastes more like tomato sauce except on those rare occasions you actually find some of the elusive cilantro hidden inside. I found myself grabbing the salt shaker repeatedly in an attempt to infuse some flavor into the otherwise bland salsa. The other salsa comes in a tiny fast food plastic condiment cup and is a smoky, flavorful but very spicy salsa. It is a much better salsa than the tub ‘o tomato but also quite small and apparently not allowed to be refilled even though we asked.
We all ordered different cocktails and tried each others cocktail to get a good sampling from the full bar. None of the drinks impressed anybody. I ordered the Reserve Margarita which had a somewhat bitter taste on the back of the palate. I followed that up with the less expensive Perfect Margarita which was much better than the original one but still had an odd bitter finish.
Service by the wait staff was fine but service from the tortilla waitress and more important pace of service from the kitchen staff was very slow. So at this point my frustration and disappointment was building. Wait for a table. Loud atmosphere. Wait for service. Wait for food. Barely drinkable drinks. Bland salsa.
Then the entrees hit the table. Everything changes in that instant.
I ordered the Chile Relleno Plate ($9.25) and it was one of the best Chile Rellenos I’ve had since last visiting Santa Fe, NM in July 2016. The cheese version I ordered was perfectly prepared with a very flavorful combination of batter and rachero salsa. The entree includes sides of refried beans and rice, both of which where were very flavorful. I could not stop eating. I would’ve picked up the plate and licked it clean if I wouldn’t have embarrassed my dining patrons in doing so. This dish is recommended.
In addition I sampled the Pollo a la Plancha topped with an excellent Guajillo sauce and the Chicken Mole Enchiladas topped with a text book, flavorful dark mole that brought back memories of my last trip to Puebla, Mexico. Both of these dishes are recommended as well.
Los Molcajetes has a full bar and therefore cannot allow BYOB under state law. I didn’t ask for a wine list which I seriously doubt they have but the drink menu is fairly extensive. We had no luck with our four selections so I’d be tempted to simply order a bottled Mexican beer or Iced Tea next time.
Parking is free in the surrounding lot. Attire is casual. Shorts and a t-shirt get the job done here. The restaurant accepts all major forms of credit cards.
Conclusion: Los Molcajetes is a mixed bag. I’d recommend going at off times when the sound level is down and the service level is likely up. Stick with the entrees and ignore everything else.