Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pepitos

Visited on Monday, December 7th

Pepitos

Ben's Review
To celebrate our last baby class on Monday night, Erin wanted to go out for dinner beforehand. We'd had a lot of Asian food lately so she wanted something different. Trying to find a place to go that was not Asian and relatively close to the hospital turned out to be more challenging than I would have guessed. We eventually settled on Pepitos in south Minneapolis that had some good reviews as being a friendly neighborhood Mexican restaurant.

Our class started at 6:30 so we got to the restaurant around 5pm to ensure that we'd have enough time to eat and make it to the hospital. Predictably, Pepitos was nearly empty when we arrived so getting a table was not an issue. The interior of Pepitos looks like you would expect a forty year old Mexican restaurant to look, with fiesta colors on the walls and dim lighting (the dim lighting in many restaurants always frustrates Erin's picture taking).

Inside Pepitos

I quickly scanned the beer list after we got seated and noticed that the beer list was not extensive and was on the pricey side. Also, the happy hour is only in the lounge so the deals did not apply for us. I decided on the tall (25 oz) Summit for ~$6.25 only because it was a better cost-per-ounce than the pint. Our server came back with the disappointing news that they were out of Summit, so I downgraded to a pint of Newcastle (not being a huge Newcastle fan). This turned out to be a good decision later on.

Chips and Salsa

After munching on some delicious tortilla chips with mild and hot salsa, we were ready to order. I went with the tamale plato with pork, under the house specialties, and Erin had the nachos lupitas that were recommended to her by a co-worker. After ordering I thought we would have some time to nibble on some more chips and sip my beer, but I think our food came out 3-5 minutes later, it was shockingly fast. Fast to the point where I was skeptical about the food, like maybe it was premade. I'm not saying it WAS premade, it just seemed to come impossibly quick. This was the reason that the pint of beer was better than the 25 oz glass. I finished my food well before my beer to begin with, so nine more ounces would have just been annoying.

My tamale was good, but not great. I liked the beans and rice on the side better than the actual tamale. The tamale was a little dry and just tasted kind of bland. There was no way Erin was going to finish all of her lupitas, so I had a couple of those as well and they were delicious, much better than the tamale. The lupitas are like big nachos on pieces of flaky dough instead of tortilla chips. It's technically an appetizer but is certainly big enough for a meal. I had several bites of Erin's and she still had two leftover by the time we were done.

Tamale

Since we got our food so early we even had time to head over to Turtle Bread Co. for some cheesecake. I had never been to Turtle Bread, but I thought it was a fantastic place, there is no divider between the kitchen and the seating area which gives it an interesting layout. The cheesecake was so good, but we were so full from dinner that we couldn't finish the shared slice. Great way to finish up a meal though.
  • Service: There was a bit of a language barrier between our server and us, but she was friendly and kept the water coming for Erin.
  • Food: My tamale was just OK, the lupitas were excellent.
  • Drinks: Not a good beer list and it was overpriced. They obviously have a good choice of margaritas if that's your thing.
  • Ambiance: The ambiance was nicer by the time we left as it was starting to fill up. Pepitos is family friendly and seems like a nice neighborhood place to hang out.
  • Price: While I thought the beers were overpriced, the food certainly is not. My tamale was $9 and Erin's lupitas were $7. Even with the beer this is the cheapest dinner we've had in awhile.
  • Convenience: They actually have valet parking, which is great, luckily we found a spot right outside the restaurant. Pepitos is on 48th & Chicago so there must be some public transit options as well.
Erin's Review
Pepitos has been on our list since the beginning - clearly it's been around for a long time, but neither Ben or I had eaten there before, and a few people I know recommended it when we started the blog. I had read mixed reviews online, so wasn't really expected much. We got there super early, and the ambiance was definitely lacking then, but picked up as the night went on. I don't even normally drink much, but I was definitely craving a margarita that night! Maybe because we had our last baby class to go to, and I knew that would make it more interesting ;)

Inside Pepitos

My co-worker Jen and several yelp reviewers recommended the lupitas, so I went with that without much deliberation. I love nachos anyway, so it seemed like a win-win. I got them with black beans, but there are many other topping choices available. The chips and salsa we munched on while we waited were great - I wish we had gotten some queso dip too, but I couldn't even finish my lupitas so that probably was a wise decision.

As Ben mentioned, our food came out lightning fast... yes, we were the only people eating probably, but still - a little too fast for comfort! Our food was piping hot when we got it - my plate was so hot I couldn't touch it. The lupitas came with 2 tiny (think the paper ketchup containers at McDonalds size) sides of sour cream and guacamole. I could have definitely used some more of those, I probably could have gotten more if I asked, but I just made do with what I had. I really liked the lupitas a lot - the "chips" were softer and thicker, and it was a nice change from traditional nachos. The sliced jalapenos on top gave just enough heat and flavor to the dish.

Nachos Lupitas with Black Beans

We definitely had a pleasant experience at Pepitos - we are not often in that area, but if we lived over there, I could see us going back for the affordable, fairly good food and friendly atmosphere. I definitely wouldn't make a special trip, though - to me, it didn't seem to be much different than Mexican chains such as Don Pablos, except that it is more affordable.

Deets
Pepitos
4820 Chicago Ave S
Minneapolis

7 comments:

Kate said...

I'm glad to hear you had a good experience at Pepitos. We live in the neighborhood and have a small child so have been several times, but I've never understood the appeal. Our food has always been bland and boring. When we went about six months ago they even told us that they don't have hot sauce! We just keep going back because it's so convenient. I guess next time we'll have to try the lupitas.

Willis said...

Nice review. It's in our neighborhood and my wife and I go there often. There are certain things I avoid on the menu, the tamales are one of them. I'm a sucker for their taco basket, it's fried goodness and somewhat unique with a pickle relish.

Anonymous said...

The lupitas are the way to go. In fact a mix of pork and black bean lupitas is our take out meal of choice.

Angie said...

I think I've been twice...both times it was packed to the point of annoying (granted one of the times was Cinqo de Mayo, so we expected it to be). Overall, I thought the food was decent but definitely not worth the wait. Maybe I'll try the lupitas and the third time will be a charm.

Unplanned Cooking said...

I've only been there a few times, but was not that impressed with the food. But the margaritas are fantastic, and worth going back for :).

Crystal said...

I think their hot salsa is amazing.

Anonymous said...

I went to Pepitos recently and was less than impressed. It's doubtful I'll go back. I had been there a handful of times in the past and liked it, but it's been a really long time since my last visit. My friend lives near there and likes the place so the two of us went. It was extremely busy when we arrived but we were too hungry to go elsewhere so we stayed. We waited a long time to get seated even though we saw many tables sitting open for extended periods of time. It was very dark where we were seated and I found the tables to be too close together, and the area not so clean. We too found the language barrier to be an issue and the service was lacking. My friend recommended the Lupitas and they were okay, but overpriced in my opinion considering what you are getting. The margaritas are good but nothing at Pepitos was worth going back for.