Forbidden Planeta

As for the menu, most of the items are what Americans consider typical Mexican fare: enchiladas, chimichangas, fajitas. The seafood enchiladas supreme, which featured a tasty light cream sauce spiked with jalapenos, was ruined by fake crabmeat. But the shrimp in the dish were real, plump, and fresh, almost justifying the $16.95 price tag, and we liked them even more in the flautas de camarones, corn tortillas rolled around whole shrimp and deep-fried. An accompanying "green sauce," however, turned out to be a dish of chunky guacamole rather than the tomatillo the menu led us to believe. If you mean guacamole, then say it.

A shredded beef chimichanga was truly delicious, the flour tortilla shell fried to a puffy finish and topped with tangy tomato sauce and melted cheese. Tender and juicy carne asada (grilled skirt steak) was the best thing we tried. Steak fajitas were fragrant strips of marinated flank steak brought sizzling to the table. I advise staying away from the vegetarian fajitas, though; the plate was rife with broccoli, and while I'm a huge fan of that particular vegetable, the dish is really more stir-fry than fajitas.

The choice between flan and tres leches for dessert was hardly tempting; even Planet Hollywood has a more robust selection. If Planeta Mexico truly aspires to capitalize on chainlike commercialism, then the least it can do is offer fried ice cream.

All generosity of spirit evaporated within a matter of moments as a result of the restaurant's rude, untrained staff.

Planeta Mexico 2700 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Coral Gables; 305-461-0010. Lunch and dinner daily from noon till 11:00 p.m.

Guacamole $6.50
Ole fondue $6.95
Beef chimichangas $13.95
Steak fajitas $14.95
Flautas de camarones $16.95

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