Quien Es Mas Nacho?

Rice, beans, and guacamole were mounded next to carne asada a la tampiquena, a charbroiled sirloin steak. The supple, smoky meat was flanked on each side by a cheese enchilada, the melted white cheese oozing out of a fried corn tortilla shell barely dampened by a mildly peppered tomato sauce. "Chicken Paquito's," accompanied by rice and beans, was an equally pleasant preparation, not too spicy despite its billing. Boneless white-meat chunks had been moistened in jalapeno juice before being coated with flour and sauteed in garlic butter. Then, crisp-edged, they were garnished with jalapeno rings and mushrooms. Having already stuffed himself on the crab nachos, Dylan declared his satisfaction with this dish by ingesting half and throwing the rest at his mother (whom he adores).

We left Grandma's kitchen for a regional seafood specialty, camarones Ixtapa. The waiter warned us about touching the rim of the (extremely hot) serving plates, but I should have held my tongue back as well as my hands -- the molten, caper-adorned tomato sauce that covered the half-dozen jumbo shrimp burned my mouth. This was a fabulous combination, though, aromatic with green olives, bell peppers, and onions -- quite filling when ladled over the side of Mexican rice. I was most impressed by the size and quality of the fresh, meaty shrimp, which had been glazed in garlic butter, then simmered in the tomato sauce.

Dessert can be staid and traditional (fried ice cream, tres leches, or flan) or South Florida (key lime pie). For a change we chose the pie, a rich wedge of tart, creamy custard that was only slightly marred by being a bit too grainy with undissolved sugar.

I don't have the money or patience to spring for a whole new Vogue wardrobe. And I'm not about to go through my husband's pockets looking for matchbooks with furtively scribbled phone numbers. But I think I can tolerate a few exploratory forays over the border. If the refurbished Paquito's is any indication of the strength of the Mexican trend that's about to hit this town, then I predict a fulfilling, nacho-munching year.

Salpicon salad
$5.75
Mole verde
$10.95
Camarones Ixtapa
$13.50
Key lime pie
$2.50

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