Salsa Fiesta Slings a So-So Mexican Brunch

Salsa Fiesta started in Venezuela, where it has flourished as a food court staple. The Biscayne Boulevard branch has also fared well; it's Mexican fast food, but of a higher quality than the Taco Bell-level chains. Actually, the folks at Salsa Fiesta prefer having their food referred to as "casual" Mexican -- and the website adds "We mean 'real' Mexican food."

Real Mexican? That's getting carried away. But the food here is tasty, and is now available in brunch form every Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

How was the brunch? Eh.

The concise a la carte menu starts with three appetizers -- guac and chips, cheese taquitos, and levanta muerto, better known as hangover soup. The soup is the only one that makes sense for brunch, and it's a decent version with fried egg on top.

Main courses naturally include huevos rancheros ($8.99) but it's a weird rendition. The pinto beans and fried eggs top corn chips, rather than a fried tortilla; makes it seem more like egg nachos than a real rancheros. A side of "fiesta corn" is sweet yet bland; a side slice of "queso fresco a la plancha" answers the question: "How can one best make cheese taste like rubber?" The salsa on top was tasty, and the salsa bar offers lots of other fresh toppings to play with. The huevos were fresh too, just not anything special.

Egg burrito ($8.99) is on the menu too -- choice of flour or wheat tortilla wrapped around three scrambled eggs, scallions, a teeny bit of crumbled Mexican chorizo, and melted cheddar and jack cheeses. Same corn salsa gets plated along with "warm" tortilla chips that weren't warm at all. I don't care what temperature my tortilla chips are, but why promise a warmth you don't deliver? The burrito was hot, fresh, and satisfying.

An enchilada omelet and a "Mexican style waffle" are also proffered along with a couple of other egg dishes. The waffle is made with almond flour, dusted with cinnamon, and topped with berries and whipped cream. This must be one of those "recipes of authentic Mexican morning dishes" that the menu boasts of.

Coffee comes from one of those automatic push-button machines that dispenses everything from a mediocre cup of regular, to a fake-tasting cappuccino. Margaritas are offered too, but the counter person didn't know if it was made with tequila or not; the place does not appear to have a liquor license, so I decided to skip it.

The brunch setting is pleasant, and the food is freshly made and for the most part tastes fine. My objection is really more the lazy Miami way that the brunch was launched and operated: Lots of time and effort on the advertising end, letting folks know about how good the brunch promises to be, but less effort in ensuring that the promises are kept and that the brunch really would be something special. As a result, brunch at Salsa Fiesta is a passable and comfortable mediocrity.

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