For over 50 years, Francisco’s Restaurante and Cantina on Main Avenue has been a local favorite for New Mexican and Mexican food. Although it has varied in size, menu, and public reception, the Garcia family has always been known for their hospitality and consistent food.
My dining partner and I arrived on a quiet weeknight evening. There was one large table in the back that had seated over 20 people, but luckily they’d eaten and left before we ordered. With only three other tables of people, our service was prompt and friendly. We opted to sit in a booth instead of the street view window seats for some privacy, but I imagine that is a great spot to people watch.
The Francisco’s building encompasses two other businesses, and was once occupied only by the restaurant. The current, smaller space feels cozy and is decorated with various Mexican art, taxidermy, exposed wood and painted bricks. The shotgun space seems just right for the amount of customers I have normally spotted eating there.
Mexican food has always been a comfort food for me, one that I can eat every day. I prefer this type of food and cooking above all others, and have since I stayed in Jalisco. Just sitting in places like Francisco’s puts me at ease. Even though I could have cared less for the baseball on the three TV’s, I did appreciate the classical guitar style of Latin music being played over the speakers.
We started with one Cadillac and one Skinny Margarita, accompanied by a bowl of queso with chopped roasted green chile. The chips are my favorite style: thick and crunchy — like croutons from bread, only these chips come from the tortillas. I was happy to discover that their flour tortillas are made by hand in town, but corn aren’t. The red chip salsa was typical medium thickness with green chile – quite tasty, but not at all spicy.
The margaritas were strong, but not as smooth as I would have liked. The only difference between the two was the Grand Marnier, which made one a bit stronger. After the first round, we just went for house ritas, as the extra two bucks for the premium ones didn’t seem worth it. (To note: house ritas are $5 during happy hour every day.)
We ordered queso, which was the white cheese type, formally known as fundido, and we ended up asking to add ground beef and a bowl of salsa to it. It was just too plain without all the extras; it tasted like it had cream cheese mixed in.
Since I love Mexican food so much, I always struggle to order—I want all of it. In addition, since this is technically New Mexican food, even with options such as Chicken Alfredo and Shrimp with Pasta and Olive Oil, I was really perplexed. It often makes sense to order a combination plate, especially when you are trying to get the pulse of a place, but I ended up getting the carne asada plate and my dining partner went for the relleno plate.
The asada plate came with a good amount of tasty and tender meat, and was accompanied by cheesy pinto beans, dry Spanish rice, pico de gallo, a fried jalapeño, and two thick flour tortillas. They did a great job with the meat, and everything else was just fine. I enjoyed my meal and cleaned my plate, washing it down with the easy drinking house rita.
The relleno plate was enjoyed by my partner, but she did show me how the fried breading on the chile slipped off right away and the seeds were not taken out. The beef enchilada that came with it was thoroughly soggy, but it was still enjoyed nonetheless.
We paid our bill, got a to-go container of the leftover queso, and left feeling full and good. Francisco’s may not be the best New Mexican or Mexican food I’ve had, but they continue to offer consistent, tasty food. In addition, they are a upstanding part of this community and have earned our support.