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Traditional fare at Amigos Mexican Cuisine

Mexican-food fans didn’t wait long for the cuisine’s return to two popular locations in Medford and Phoenix.

Within a few months, Amigos Mexican Cuisine stepped in where two long-running Si Casa Flores restaurants left off in Medford’s Larson Creek Plaza and Phoenix’s Shoppes at Exit 24. If the name on the buildings’ exteriors hadn’t changed, customers wouldn’t note much difference inside. Colorful tiles, tropical-themed murals and a friendly staff still make for a festive, fun atmosphere, suited to patrons of all ages, including large groups and families with young children.

Dining with a 2- and 4-year-old, we bypassed the “little amigos” menu, despite its $5.99 pricing, when our older son insisted on shrimp, which isn’t among the kids’ taco-filling choices. Balking at the regular menu’s $15.99 price for two soft corn-tortilla tacos filled with shrimp, my husband, Will, and I were negotiating when a sizzling tray of shrimp fajitas passed by.

For just $1 more than the tacos’ cost, we could order enough shrimp — well, almost — to satisfy Will and the boys, accompanied by plenty of veggies, tortillas and guacamole. Judging from the sound and smell prevalent in the dining room, Amigos does a brisk business in fajitas. Skirt steak and chicken each are priced at $15.99 while a vegetarian mix of broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and zucchini costs $13.99. Next time, we’d order the mixed platter of shrimp, steak and chicken for $18.99.

Feeling chilled from an afternoon outdoors, I considered the chicken-vegetable and tortilla soups, $10.50 and $8.50, respectively, for a bowl. But I was hungry enough that more substance enticed.

Although I enjoy rice and beans, I’m occasionally inclined to order my meal from the appetizer sections of Mexican-restaurant menus. I figured that flautas, fried, meat-filled flour tortillas ($9.99) stood a better chance at being house-rolled than did taquitos, the corn-tortilla variation ($8.99) widely available in grocers’ freezer sections. A sucker for jalapeno poppers ($7.99), I tacked on still more deep-fried food.

Neither item was as sizzling hot as expected, nor did they convey much of a greasy sheen. With just the barest hint of heat and more olive-drab than green, the poppers seemed prefab — if not from a box, then made long in advance.

By contrast, the flautas’ taste and texture were fresh, enhanced with generous dollops of guacamole and sour cream atop a bed of lettuce, tomatoes and onion, all sprinkled with queso fresco. The dish, Will agreed, represented a good value, not least for its quantity of chicken. Like most items on Amigos’ menu, flautas also are available filled with ground or shredded beef.

Chief among Amigos’ entrees are the combo platters, assembled from the perennially popular taco, tamale, tostada, enchilada, burrito, chimichanga and chile relleno, not to mention rice and beans. Choose one item for $10.99, two for $12.99 or three for $13.99.

Other menu sections offer Mexican classics that have become almost mainstream. Carne asada ($14.99) and chiles Colorado and verde (each $13.99) number among meat entrees while chicken mole ($13.99) arroz con pollo ($14.99) and pollo a la diabla ($13.99) are reliable white-meat options.

I didn’t note many surprises at Amigos, although I did appreciate the menu’s inclusion of molcajete, a dish I’ve only tried once that’s billed as “the real taste of Mexico.” For $18.99, the meal comes in a traditional mortar — searing-hot — filled with steak chicken and shrimp, wrapped in bacon and cactus leaves, smothered in special sauce and accented with scallions and jalapenos.

Also described as traditional, mariscos empapelados ($16.99) wraps a seafood assortment — tilapia, scallops, octopus and shrimp — in foil, along with a mushroom-laden white sauce, that all simmers in the oven.

Sodas seemed a bit steep at $2.99 apiece, Will commented, remarking that his ran dry. We did like the slightly unconventional take on the complimentary chips and salsa: oblong wedges, rather than the typical triangles, served with a smoky salsa, instead of pico de gallo, and a thin bean dip.

Located at 960 N. Phoenix Road, Suite 103, Medford, and 205 Fern Valley Road, Phoenix, Amigos is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call 541-816-4766 or 541-897-4466, respectively, or see amigosmexicancuisine.com.

Flautas with dollops of guacamole and sour cream atop a bed of lettuce, tomatoes and onion and sprinkled with queso fresco. [Photo by Sarah Lemon]