You may not notice the missive stenciled on Los Generales’ storefront window; it’s long and wordy and is easily overlooked next to all the decorations and signage. And if you were to read it you may not understand it. Something is lost in the translation from Spanish to English and it rambles a bit.
But the gist is unmistakable: you are welcome here. And the statement by the owners also exudes pride and sincerity that says you’re sure to enjoy the food at this Mexican grill. I think you will, too.
The menu is for the most part authentic Mexican. There is an entire selection of fajitas, but that largely Americanized dish has been around so long and is in so many Mexican eateries that the origin has become blurred.
And, if truth be told, the fajitas were pretty good. My guest couldn’t choose from among the various meats so instead decided on the sampler ($14.99), which includes steak, chicken and shrimp, and plenty of all three. The steak was tender and so was the chicken. The shrimp were fine but I’d have preferred someone remove the tails – they crunch too much when wrapped in the warm tortillas.
As good as the steak was in the fajitas, I liked it even more in the tampiquena ($14.99). This featured a skirt steak that was deceptively tender, served with a twice-baked potato, rice, beans and a tamale. The potato didn’t contribute much to the enjoyment of the platter, but everything else was wonderful.
Especially the tamale. It was so good I ordered four ($10.99) from the list of antojitos. The corn husk-wrapped tamales, filled with pork, were served with a tangy guacamole.
Asado de Puerco ($11.99) was an unusual dish of pork chunks in chile de color, a sauce made with anchos chilies that was not too spicy but had depths of flavors and seasoning.
So, too, the mole with the chicken enchiladas ($9.99), The sauce had a wonderful earthy taste from a touch of bitter chocolate, and instead of submerging the rolled enchiladas in the liquid Los Generales uses it more sparingly, as the grace note it should be.
Camerones rancheros ($15.50) was a big plate of tender-firm shrimp sautéed in butter with tomatoes. The butter gave the shrimp a nice richness, but it was the addition of fresh cilantro that gave it spark.
On one visit my guests and I shared a sampler plate of appetizers ($8.99) that included quesadilla, potato skins, guacamole and jalapenos rellenos. Most of it was fairly pedestrian, although the guacamole was perfectly chunky. The stuffed jalapenos were the one stand-out item. They were filled with a bit of cream cheese, breaded and deep-fried. These were not your typical pre-fab “poppers” you see on other menus. These were spicy little morsels that still had lots of the fiery seeds inside.
Sweeter things are available for dessert. The flan cajeta ($4.99) had a rich custard and candylike caramel syrup. Arroz leche ($4.99) was a not too creamy rice pudding with a touch of cinnamon. The bunuelo ($5.50) had a large scoop of ice cream on a sugared fried pastry.
If there were an award for restaurant with the bulkiest furniture, Los Generales would win it hands down. The tables and chairs are massive pieces of wood, each crudely carved with lilies, grape clusters, a horse head or the stereotypical figure of a sleeping Mexican. Whichever is carved on the seatback is matched on the tabletop, inset under glass.
Walls, it must me noted, are nicely painted and don’t have any faux plaster cracks that so many Mexican restaurants have. There are the usual sombreros as well as horseshoes, flags and, on a wall between two seating areas, a large saddle, the stirrups hanging down in each room.
The staff was friendly and accommodating. There is a full bar and it should not go unmentioned that they make a mean Margarita.
There was one disappointment. The menu notes that pozole, the stew made with hominy, and menudo, another traditional soup made with tripe, are served on weekends. But when I inquired about the availability on a Sunday visit I was told they would be available soon.
Having such dishes on the menu, even on restricted days, would set the restaurant apart. Not that the fine food it serves everyday doesn’t do that already.