Fiesta earns favorite Mexican restaurant award

Chimichangas are a fan favorite dish at Fiesta Mexican Restaurant. The restaurant offers quality food for an affordable price for college students.

In the April 20 issue of The Flor-Ala, readers voted Fiesta Mexican Restaurant best Mexican restaurant in Florence, so I undertook the task of reviewing it.

The restaurant, which won 28.3 percent of the votes, beat Rosie’s Mexican Cantina‘s 25 percent and Casa Mexicana Restaurant‘s 20 percent. Others in consideration were El Pollito Loco and Taqueria Juarez Restaurant.

Seniors Savannah Thompson and Jared Collier, along with photographer Andrea Belk, joined me on the expedition to the Seven Points Shopping Center. We arrived around noon, and there were not many patrons, which left the restaurant spacious and comfortable.

Our waiter brought us chips and salsa to start, and being the cheap college students we are, we all ordered water.

Collier and Belk, who enjoy mild food, loved the salsa, with Collier saying it was “not too hot, not too cold ó like Goldilocks.”  Thompson and I like our salsa a little spicier, however.

Collier, who ordered more salsa as his meal, said he would have liked it a little thicker, but he did enjoy the smoothness.

As we waited for our meals, we admired the creative décor, which consists of animated characters such as Shrek, Wile E. Coyote, Garfield and Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc. These seem to speak to the children-friendly vibe the restaurant has.

Thompson and I, the only to order entrees, selected pollo con arroz (chicken and rice smothered in melted cheese) and the chimichanga fiesta, which has shrimp, steak and chicken chimichangas.

The service was much quicker than I anticipated, and when the food came, it was obvious that aesthetics were important to the chef, as the plating of the food was beautiful.

The cheese-drizzled chimichangas came with refried beans, rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce and sour cream, and it tasted better than I ever could have hoped.

I was apprehensive about the initial bite because in my last experience there, all my food was extremely salty, and I ended up throwing most of it away. That was not the case this time.

I first tried the rice, which was soft and fluffy, and the refried beans, which were the most flavorful I have ever eaten.  Then came the guac and pico de gallo, which both had a freshly-prepared taste.

Lastly, the chimichangas were the best part. Nothing makes me feel fancier than an affordable meal that includes shrimp. All three chimichangas were well-seasoned with the steak and chicken sliced into smaller pieces, which also made the chimichangas easier to cut and eat.

Thompson and I both enjoyed our meals with food to spare, which made for delicious leftovers. Mine totaled less than $12, which I had no problem paying with the amount and quality of the food.

In addition to being prompt, our service from the many employees we interacted with was also polite, even when I needed another menu at the end to order a to-go meal for a friend.

All in all, it was a spectacular meal for a fair price, and it’s easy to see why the restaurant won the honor of best Mexican restaurant in Florence.