Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Senor Matias Mexican Restaurant

Restaurant: Senor Matias Mexican Restaurant
Address: 2505 S 90th St
Website: None known.
Genres: Mexican, American
Check Constraints: 18% for groups of 8 or more.
Chain: No. | More Omaha Locations: No.

  • Diet Coke ($1.79)
  • Mexi-Potato-Skins ($7.99)
  • Cup of Mexican Chili ($3.25)
  • Mexican Lasagna ($7.99)
You may think it overkill for menu items at a Mexican restaurant to essentially be labeled as such. You'd think it implicit, right? Well, Senor Matias is a Mexican/American restaurant, and they take both sides of their heritage pretty seriously. You can pick either of the genres here, or dabble in both if you like. That means their menu isn't quite as expansive as if they were single-genre, and the loss of focus results in some foods that just aren't that appetizing - like their guacamole. None of us got it on this visit but we've been before, and the guacamole here is little more than crushed avocado. Stirring in large amounts of the table salsa didn't seem to change the taste even a little; definitely steer clear unless you're fond of just peeling an avocado and snacking now and then.

However, if you're willing to pick and choose around the menu, you can get a pretty big lunch here of acceptable quality for reasonable prices. The Mexi-Potato-Skins are fairly copious in servings, with the main difference from your average potato skins being ground beef and black olive slices lumped in with the cheese and bacon. They're tasty, and while I wouldn't call them gourmet, they're about as good as you get without finding a steakhouse that serves them with New York Strip on top.

The Mexican Lasagna, a Thursday special, was also fairly good. Matias' ground beef has a light but noticeable spicing to it, an improvement over the plain beef at some places or the "disguise-bad-meat" level spice at some unmentionable fast food taco joints. The "lasagna" itself is essentially a layering of flat flour tortillas, ground beef, and refried beans topped with tomatoes, lettuce, etc. It's a short tower of flat soft tacos, and though compared to some of the other entrees it comes in a little light on serving size, I'd recommend it. The real star for me though is their chili.

Large chunks of beef are the primary ingredient, and it sure tastes like spice is the secondary. I admit to railing about overspiced food mere paragraphs above, but the heavy spicing of the chili works very well with the strong beef taste and the heavy flavor of vinegar present. It's also very spicy; trying this without a dollop of sour cream to cool it down is asking for some pain. I'm a major capsaicin fan, and even I barely finished the cup. They serve a dish here called a tamale float, which is a tamale nestled in a bowl of this chili, and while it is delicious it is truly a test for the person who is proud of their iron tongue.

  • Root Beer($1.79)
  • Chicken Quesadillas($8)
  • Orange Shake ($3.25)
  • Combo Platter(Chicken Enchilada and Beef Enchilada) ($9.95)

The prices I've listed are educated guesses. I almost always get a shake or float of some kind when I eat at a mexican restaurant, mainly because unlike Cham, I am not a capsaicin fiend. Were it not for that shake, I would not have been able to finish the chicken enchilada, as the chicken here is a bit on the spicy side for me. Last time, I got a plain vanilla shake, and it was okay. I randomly opted for orange this time, and it tasted like the vanilla shake with just a slight hint of orange. It's rather like a very thick orange cream soda. Luckily, I love orange cream soda.

The chicken quesadillas are top notch, soft taco shells wrapped around an astounding amount of shredded spicy chicken and cheese, then fried. You get two of them for the price, and it's practically a meal in and of itself. If you want a Mexican appetizer, go for this and not the chips and dip.

This is the second time I've got a combo here. I knew from my epic defeat last time that ordering a triple combo would be the death of me, so I ordered two. That was still too much food. When you order a chicken enchilada here, they take half a chicken, shred it, spice it liberally, wrap a tortilla around it, then drizzle sauce over the top and about a pound of cheese over the top of that. I had two of those, though one was ground beef, and it comes with liberal portions of spanish rice and refried beans, and some lettuce on the side. If you're in the mood for a lot of food for a little money, and don't feel like risking some of the crazy heat like the chili has, grab a double or triple combo. You'll have to loosen your belt.

  • Diet Cola ($1.79)
  • Combo Platter(Chicken Enchilada and Chicken Burrito) ($9.95)
The chicken quesadillas were great. They weren't the standard flat quesadillas where they put them in that device that mashes the tortilla down and grills it on both sides. It was more like they took a medium sized flour tortilla, stuffed it with cheese and chicken, then mashed it down by hand and put it in the oven to melt a bit, so it was still half open when it arrived at your table.

The chicken they use resembles pulled chicken. It's stringy, but still juicy and delicious with a nice kick from the spice. They put the lettuce and such on the side, so the burrito was very simple, with just spiced chicken inside a shell with melted cheese smothered all over the top. The enchilada was the same, but with the red sauce instead of the cheese. I'm usually a great fan of red sauce and enchiladas, but it just didn't work this time and I ended up favoring the burrito very much over the enchilada.

I also tried a bit of Cham's chili. I was very impressed. It was a kind of spicy that I'd never tasted before. It was almost like a vinegary chili spice. Next time I go, I'll be getting my own bowl, I think.

  • The Ole #7 Burrito ($9.25)
The potato skins and quesadilla were both pretty good. They both were pretty well stuffed. The others have described them pretty well. The quesadillas were a bit small for the five of us to share though.

The burrito was a big one. You definitely get large portions here. It's deep fried and buried in cheese. I think the only thing inside was seasoned ground beef with maybe a bit more cheese. That is probably the only reason I managed to finish it. It was quite tasty and vanished quickly. It came with a bit of refried beans and rice on the side. I thought both of those were decent as well.

I did try a bite of chili as well, and it's pretty hot and hits you fast. I'm not one to shy away from the hot stuff, but I'd probably have trouble eating a whole bowl without something to calm the heat a bit.


  • Cup of Chili ($3.25)
  • Combo Platter(Beef Burrito and Cheese Burrito) ($9.95)
The place is a bit hit and miss (nobody mentioned the refried beans, which I had heard were a bit burnt this time?) but it tends to have some very solid basic hits. The chili was indeed fantastic... for as much of it as I could tolerate eating. It's mighty spicy, and complex spicy besides, with both heat at the front and at the back, but the heat doesn't kill the flavor. If I hadn't been so full in general, I'd have probably gotten some milk besides sour cream to cut the heat with to finish it. I didn't taste the vinegar that Maple did (which is good, because I'm not a huge vinegar fan.) I did like those skins (I'm generally a fan of potato skins, and these were pretty flavorful), and the quesedilla was fine, but didn't leap out at me.

As for my main plate, both my Beef burrito and my Cheese burrito came covered in cheese. And inside one, nothing but beef. Inside the other, nothing but cheese. It's tough to get simpler than that. But it was really good. The ground beef is more than just 'there', and I like me some cheese. Now, these burritos are more normal sized burritos, as opposed to the single big one Moogle got, or big ones we've had elsewhere, but 2 burritos, with appetizers, is still a very sizable amount of food. ND is right: know what you're getting into with portions here, but be sure to give it a shot if you're ready for a solid meal.

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