New(ish) Restaurant Review: Los Jimadores Dos, Campustown Edición
The Backstory, Part 1
If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know I don’t do a lot of restaurant reviews. However, when I got my end-of-year review showing the popularity of different posts, it turns out my review of Thai Thyme was far and away the most popular post I’ve ever done (more that 3x more views than my number 2 post). I had even noticed that it gets a few views a day, much to my surprise. So I figure if I want to increase readership, I should do more, so here you go.
The Backstory, Part 2
We’re regular patrons of the original Los Jimadores on North University (just south of Pioneer Parkway) because it’s close to Peoria Ballet, where our son dances. It’s his, though not ours (my wife & mine) favorite Mexican restaurant in town. We prefer Mi Familia on Wisconsin; not that we don’t like Los Jimadores, it’s just not our favorite. But when we read that they were opening a branch in Campustown, walking distance for us, we knew we were in trouble.
Last Friday turned out to be a good night to eat out. My wife was still out of the country and I had spent the day picking up, addressing and mailing out my son’s Bar Mitzvah invitations. This meant that I didn’t make challah or, more to the point, dinner. So it seemed like a good time to go out, and my son immediately mentioned the new Los Jimadores; the weather was nicer, so we could even walk (much to his chagrin), so we bundled up and headed out …
The blurb I had read promised it was the same menu as the original location, and walking in you could easily believe it. While the new location (where La Bamba and more recently Chicky Baba have been) doesn’t have the awesome murals on the walls that the original location has, it does boast the same table art (a rooster on ours) and, as promised, the same menu, which is a selection of standard Mexican food & drink options, including a vegetarian section. We particularly appreciate that as we tend not to eat meat at restaurants unless we know it’s sustainably raised.
With the delivery of chips & salsa we were ready to go.
Actually the salsa was a little different, but it also changes at the original restaurant, so I can’t say if it’s different different, or just a different batch that day. Either way, we do like their salsa, plenty of fresh cilantro and a little spice, and the chips are thin and not salty, always a bonus. Another bonus: because we can walk there I can have a beer; they had just gotten their liquor license earlier in the week, and wasted no time having drinks available. Sadly the Sam Adams I wanted wasn’t available, so being a good St. Louis native I settled for a Budweiser. And with that we were ready for the main event.
Minor Growing Pains
While I recognized some of the staff working the front from the original restaurant, our waitress was new and not completely familiar with the menu. Our son always wants the same thing: cheese enchiladas, rice & beans. You can’t blame him, what’s not to like? However, while this is a combination on the lunch menu, it doesn’t exist in this form on the dinner menu. We’ve ordered it before, and it just comes a la carte. So we tried ordering it this way, but it arrived as cheese enchiladas with rice, no beans. This might be partly our fault too, as we were trying to use a combination of English & our poor Spanish. So we’ll call it a wash.
I like a little more variety in my Mexican food, so this time I tried to order the Vegetarian B, which is a cheese enchilada and a chalupa. Now I will say here that I do know that at different Mexican restaurants items with the same name can be different things, but I’ve ordered this before at Los Jimadores and know what it should have been. I even pointed to the item on the menu, but the waitress admitted she wasn’t familiar with the vegetarian items; I thought she had written down what the menu item was, and expected all to be fine.
All was fine, but I didn’t exactly get what I ordered. I did get an enchilada, but instead of a chalupa I got a tostada; it was quite good and I didn’t have a problem with it, but I’m sure it’s not what’s been served as a chalupa in the past. Mine did come with rice & beans, so I shared my beans with Joel, which is to say I gave him almost all of mine, so we were both happy.
So How Was It?
Delicious, and definitely tasted the same as the food we’ve had at the original Los Jimadores. Their red sauce has a distinct flavor that was clearly in evidence on our enchiladas, and I’m sure it would have passed a blind taste test. It’s very exciting for our family, who moved here from the border, and Cecile & I both lived in New Mexico for years, to have not one but two Mexican restaurants in walking distance from our house (El Zarape is the other, in the opposite direction, corner of Western & Main). As long as we defer to Joel we’ll eat at Los Jimadores, but he’s getting older so we don’t do that as often anymore.
The manager said they’ve been open about three weeks, and business has been good. We got there around 6:00 on a Friday and the place filled up nicely while we were there. With the return of Bradley students business will presumably get even better. You can’t complain about more local choices in restaurants, and it’s nice to see one doing well enough to open a second location. If you’re in the Bradley neighborhood and hankering for some Mexican food (and/or drinks), Los Jimadores has you covered.