The building that houses the Mexican restaurant on the outskirts of the main drag in Farmington looked pretty nondescript as we pulled up alongside it. There wasn’t much color to the outside stucco walls, and the parking lot was suspiciously empty, especially for a Thursday afternoon. Perhaps our plan to check out Mmm Que Rico, a little margarita and taco haven in this small New Mexican town, wasn’t such a great idea, I said, while slowly dragging my body out of the car. Maybe the Internet was wrong.
Buyers remorse quickly set in as I made my way to the heavy glass doors. With no windows to peer into and no sign of life, there was no way to tell what we were walking into, and I was nervous. It’s easy to mess up Mexican food, and very hard to get it right.
As is often the case, my habit of judging the book by its cover proved the wrong move. The outside of Mmm Que Rico, while bland, is also deceiving, and hides a bright interior that’s lively and full of color, with yellow, green, and red pops of color everywhere. The high-backed booths are heavy and dark, a nice contrast to the traditional bright colors.
We were seated at one of the deep booths near the front of the restaurant, and our server appeared almost immediately to take our drink order. It took a minute to wade through the many choices of margaritas, beers, and mixed drinks listed on the menu. Mmm Que Rico knows their liquor. I chose the cucumber margarita while my lunch partner opted for the pina colada, a drink topped with whipped cream and a cherry.
My drink arrived quickly, and I was stoked to find it rimmed with chile and salt, a concoction I grew up snacking on in the southernmost part of Texas. As a child, I’d put it on watermelon, or mango, or anything else you can think of, and I love to see it used on beer or margaritas as an adult. Nostalgia at its finest. Plus, it’s delicious.
The drink menu wasn’t the only extensive list at Mmm Que Rico, either. The food menu was several pages long and full of true Mexican dishes, like camarones a la diabla or caldo, a traditional Mexican soup, a good sign of what was to come. Nobody puts caldo on the menu without some real knowledge of what Mexican food should be.
The remaining bits of wariness were quickly washed away with a simple gulp of my margarita. The drink was bright green and thick with bits of fresh cucumber, which were refreshing and light against the salty bite of the chile rim. They mean business at Mmm Que Rico. My dining partner, with her thick, sugary pina colada, looked on with envy.
Still, while delicious, a true test of a Mexican restaurant is not their margarita. It is their food. I opted for the cheese enchiladas, and my lunch partner, the chicken fajitas. Our food arrived quickly, the plate of fajitas sizzling and steaming with fury. I took a quick survey of my dish and then dug in. Between the viscous, warm cheese and the flavorful red sauce, it was perfect.
The fajitas proved to be equally as good. The corn tortillas the dish were served with were clearly homemade, and the portion size was excellent. You can’t go wrong with homemade corn tortillas. You also can’t find them being offered up in restaurants very often, either.
We spent the rest of the meal sipping and eating to the point of gluttony, determined to take in as much traditional Mexican food as our bellies would allow. By the time we made it out to the car and past the boring stucco walls, the curse of the carbs had set in. Yawns abound.
Mmm Que Rico is absolutely worth the stop when you’re in Farmington. It’s also worth the drive out there, should you be looking for some good Mexican food and even better mixed drinks. It’s not close in proximity, but it’s about as close as you’re going to get to true Mexican food, which makes the drive across the state border and into New Mexico worth every minute.