on May 4, 2008
The Fajita Republic is a very popular place on Restaurant Row in Puerto Vallarta’s Romantic Zone. We come here every once in a while trying to arrive shortly after opening or just before closing to avoid the crowds. It tries hard to be a simple place with wooden beams holding up the fiberglass roof, brick floors, plain wooden tables covered in butcher paper and hanging lamps made of baskets. A couple of huge trees used to cover the entire area but unfortunately one was recently cut down. The servers run the gamut here from stoic to jovial, from attentive to indifferent. This particular evening our waiter was confused but eager. We were seated by the host, who spoke perfect English. Having been here before, we were eagerly waiting for our hot from the oven tortilla chips and fresh salsa. A waiter, our waiter, kept staring but wouldn’t come over. After five minutes or so he had a whispered conversation with the host and then rushed over to us, his cheeks bright red. We ordered drinks and asked about our chips. Chips and drinks were served in a flash.This is mostly a meat place, fajitas being the specialty, but there are other things on the menu. Besides the twelve varieties of fajitas, grilled steaks, BBQ ribs and chicken there are also Mexican favorite such as chile rellenos, enchiladas, a long list of quesadillas and chimichangas. (I am partial to the Surf and Turf Tacos – skirt steak and garlic shrimp). Soups, salads and appetizers make a brief appearance. There are vegetarian fajitas and shrimp or fish ones for the almost vegetarian crowd. There are also some interesting combo platters. (My favorite is the Surfing Cow – grilled skirt steak, garlic shrimp, Caesar salad and French fries). The prices aren’t a bargain, but not shocking either.We ordered. Our waiter seemed very confused that Linda wanted an appetizer for dinner. He kept telling her "That’s not dinner. What else would you like?" He eventually seemed to accept it when Linda told him, "I’m a tiny person. I need a tiny dinner." We never felt he was being pushy, he seemed genuinely perplexed.Soon after ordering, we got the veggie snack that comes with all meals. It is jicama and cucumber sticks sprinkled with a wonderful dried chile powder and lime juice. You get just one piece of each per customer but we have found if you ask for more they will oblige. After a short wait we saw our fajitas being flambéed. For some reason they don’t do this at the table like most places. They don’t make a show of it. Our waiter served us, smiled, and asked if he got everything in the right place. He had. Sails and I both had the Arrachera Fajitas made with marinated skirt steak. The slices of grilled meat are served on top of julienned, seared vegetables then flambéed with herb infused tequila. It tasted wonderful. I’m not sure what the combination of vegetables was but they were great. The meat was very tender. I felt it was over tenderized. Sails said I was nuts. The fajitas come with an impressive condiment tree that holds bowls of cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, refried beans, and rice. We always run out of beans and salsa. The waiters never offer to bring more but if asked they will. Linda had the Mambo Combo - an appetizer consisting of Buffalo wings, bones (small BBQ ribs), quesadillas, salsa and blue cheese dressing. She said it was all good, especially the ribs.The waiter came over to see how we were doing and to make sure Linda was satisfied. We assured him everything had been great and asked for the bill. We don’t come here often but we do enjoy the place. If you are looking to eat where the "locals" eat, don’t come here. The clientele is mostly tourists, both national and foreign. The food is usually good, the service varied, more than anything we come back because the warmed tortilla chips make us feel special.Javier says, "Nice breeze. Otra cerveza porfavor." Sails said, "One fajita, two fajitas, three fajitas, four. Javier's not eating; he's a great big bore. Otra cerveza por favor! Wow, nice appetizer plate Linda. Hint. Hint. Yummm, good chicken wing. Decent beef fajitas, lots of toppings. What's that? What the hell are watermelon balls doing next to my fajitas. Otra cerveza porfavor.sample menuPresident Fajitas............138 pesos/US$13.10garlic shrimp, skirt steak and chicken breast on julienned veggies and flambéed with an herb cured tequilaserved with a garnish platterNeptune Fajitas............188 pesos/US$17.90lobster tail, shrimp and fish fileton juliened veggies and flambéed with an herb cured tequilaserved with a garnish platterVegetarian Fajitas............104 pesos/US$9.90assorted grilled vegetables and melted Gouda cheese topped with avocadoand flambéed with an herb cured tequilaserved with a garnish platterMexican Plate............128 pesos/US$12.20two chicken enchiladas, a quesadilla, grilled skirt steak, rice, beans and guacamoleOaxaca Fish............128 pesos/US$12.20a white fish filet, shrimp, vegetables and garlic cooked in papillotserved with riceChiles Rellenos............94 pesos/US$9.00battered poblano peppers, stuffed with Gouda, covered in a tomato salsa and sour creamserved with a garnish platterFajita Republic is open daily from 5:00 pm until 11:00pm. Visa and MasterCard are accepted.Directions - Fajita Republic is on the corner of Basilio Badillo and Pino Suarez. From the southeast corner of parking/plaza Lazaro Cardenas (the ocean is to the west) head south along Pino Suarez one block. The restaurant is on the left.
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