La Pinata Mexican Food & Bar
- 475 N. Drake Road
- Kalamazoo, MI 49009
- (269) 382-6642
- No Known Website
Earlier this week, one of J’s co-workers raved about a new Mexican joint in Battle Creek. Somehow, that made her hungry for Mexican. She came home from work today and said we should go out for lunch. I think she was hinting to me that she wanted to go to Battle Creek, but I started heading for a place a little closer to home.
La Pinata Mexican Food & Bar is on Drake Road near the corner of Main Street in Oshtemo Township. It’s in the Maple Hill Mall development that sits right next to Drake Road, but like everything on that corner, it can be hard to find.
J had actually went looking for it one other time when her mom was in town, but there are so many strip malls on that corner that if you don’t know exactly where something is, you have to drive through all of them and that’s not an easy thing to do.
I do a lot of shopping at the Hardings on Drake Road and have been a frequent customer at the Lowes since we bought a house, so I’m a little more familiar with that area than I was just a few months ago.
We pulled in to the narrow parking lot and I was a little worried. I could see the OPEN sign in the window, but it didn’t look up. It was just the way the sun was reflecting off the window. It was open. Glad I didn’t screw that one up again.
The entrance is on what I would consider the backside of the building. It’s not on the side you can see from Drake. It’s on the side that faces the MC Sports. The exterior of the building is pretty bland and boring. The door is not really near the sign on the facade. It’s off to the right so you do have to look for it a little bit. Just look for the yellow special signs hanging in the windows.
We were met right away by a server who showed us to a booth in the main dining room. There are actually two really large rooms with the other being the bar area. I was actually very surprised by the size of the place because from the outside, you really expect a small hole in the wall.
The decor is pretty subdued, but still has the feel of a Mexican restaurant with murals and a stucco feel. The lighting is a little dark and the color palate is mostly reds and browns which also add to the darker feel. I really prefer this style to the bright, loud red, white, and green that many Mexican restaurants gravitate towards.
The menu is pretty large and it took us a while to look it over. While we were reading over the pages, our server brought a couple Cokes and the chips and salsa. The salsa didn’t have a whole lot of flavor to it other than it had a fresh tomato taste. There was no heat to it at all. I don’t like my salsa mouth burning spicy, but I do like a little bit of heat. Still, it was a good snack and we went through two baskets of chips and two bowls of salsa.
I usually gravitate towards tacos at Mexican places, but I noticed from pictures they do the authentic Mexican taco which is meat, onion, and cilantro. I prefer the more Americanized version of meat, lettuce and cheese. I know..just go to Taco Bell….no, really. I like the way true Mexican places prepare the meat and when they use Chihuahua cheese
Since I wasn’t digging the onions, I went to the lunch specials on the back page. I was going between a couple dishes, but settled on the Huevos Rancheros. The two Mexican-style eggs are topped with salsa and served with rice, beans, and tortillas. The salsa on the eggs was fantastic. I sort of wish they would have served that with the chips. It was a little chunky, a much darker red, and had just the right amount of spice in it. After I polished off the eggs, I used the three tortillas that came with the meal to soak up the rest of the salsa. The unfortunate thing about me eating at Mexican restaurants is that I can’t stand the look of refried beans and I’m really not into rice either. 80% of my plate was rice and beans, so I feel like I waste a ton of food. I really wish there was an option on the menu that didn’t include the rice and beans. The eggs and tortillas were delicious, but not quite filling on their own.
J went off the pick two menu and ordered a ground beef tostada and the guacamole salad. She got two full plates of food which was more than she could handle. The tostada was piled high with beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and sour cream. She ate most of that before handing off some of the beef to me. Like I mentioned earlier, I really like the way Mexican places prepare something as simple as ground beef, so I used a few chips that we still had on the table to scoop up her extra. The guacamole salad is a pretty simple iceberg lettuce plate with guacamole and tomatoes. She didn’t have a whole lot to say about this, so not sure how it was, but it didn’t look like much to me.
Our bill was a little over $18. Like I usually say when we go to Mexican restaurants, what we ate was pretty good, but there was so much food that went back to the kitchen. I know I’m an oddity, so this isn’t a criticism of La Pinata or any Mexican place we go to. The Mexican dishes I like, I really like, but the ones I don’t, I really don’t and there always seems to be more of the don’ts on the plate than the do’s.