Open with a Pair

Our meals drew mixed reviews. My companion adored his carne asada. The tender beef had been marinated in a tangy, smoky-tasting mixture, and was topped with perfectly cooked, slightly crunchy onions. The refried beans served with both our meals were somewhat bland, but the moist yellow rice had a delicious hint of saffron.

I tried a chimichanga, which was described as a crisp flour tortilla packed with chicken, cheese, and beans and topped with sour cream and guacamole. While the tortilla was soggy instead of crisp, the rest of the ingredients were present as advertised in great abundance. Too great an abundance, in fact, because I had to pick the chicken out from under its many-layered coat of beans and cheese in order to taste it. What I managed to fish out tasted great, but on my next visit I, too, would order the carne asada or the fajitas - less work to eat and less of a mess.

My companion was disappointed that no Texas beers were available and the only Mexican beers offered were Dos Equis and Corona. Fortunately the beers were served extremely cold (a welcome antidote to the heat of the firecrackers). I ordered a "killer margarita," touted by the menu as "the drink that made us famous." The seven-dollar cocktail contains Sauza Conmemorativo tequila, Grand Marnier, and Cointreau, and although the drink was properly salted around the rim of the glass, the mixture itself was lukewarm. I didn't taste much Sauza because the too-sweet Grand Marnier overwhelmed the rest of the drink, which tasted like a lime soda that used to be made in my hometown - the label was Norka (Akron spelled backward) and I think they got the water for their beverages from the Cuyahoga River, which at that time was the only river in the nation that could catch fire. I fared much better after our meal when I ordered a frozen margarita at the bar. This one had plenty of tequila and wasn't nearly as sickly sweet.

Now in Miami you can get great balls of fire in two forms (at least!): musically at Johnny Rockets, or gastronomically at Tyrannosaurus Mex. When you tire of leftover turkey, goodness, gracious, give 'em a try.

JOHNNY ROCKETS
at Dadeland Mall, 7535 N Kendall Dr, 663-8864. Hours: Sunday - Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

TYRANNOSAURUS MEX
3000 Grand Ave, Coconut Grove, 441-2100. Hours: Sunday - Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m; Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.

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