Rating: Three forks out of four
Where: 259 S. West St., 316-978-9440
Hours: 24 hours
Type of food: Fast Mexican
If you're hungry but broke, a new west-side Mexican restaurant can satisfy your needs — any time of the day or night.
Abelardo's is a 24-hour Mexican place at the corner of Maple and West (in the former Dog-N-Shake building) that opened in July, specializing in delicious, fast and inexpensive Mexican food.
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Abelardo's features a menu displayed on a behind-the-counter lightboard showing pictures of 23 different combo plates, served with rice and beans on Styrofoam plates and featuring specialties such as carne asada, carnitas, fish tacos, pollo asada, chimichangas, tacos, tostadas, burritos and enchiladas.
The menu also includes super- cheap a la carte items, including breakfast burritos, tortas, quesadillas, enchiladas and more.
DON'T-MISS DISHES: It's worth going to Abelardo's just to try the amazing tortillas — giant 14-inchers grilled until they're dotted with those delicious brown tortilla speckles.
Abelardo's not only serves its fabulous burritos wrapped in -these tasty shells, but it also generously serves them on the side of all the combo plates. I once went to Abelardo's drive-through and asked just for the tortillas, which confused the wait staff but drastically improved my homemade burritos.
The main dishes were good, too.
Among our favorites was the No. 15 adobada plate, featuring marinated pieces of diced pork and served with a side of rice, beans and guacamole for $6.49. The salty, red-hued seasoning was complex, with hard-to-identify spices.
Our only complaint about the dish was our only complaint about several of the other dishes. Many of the meats, though tender and well-seasoned, came with small chunks of fat — unpalatable yet hard to identify before you eat them.
Another dish that fell into this category was the green chile plate, which had chunks of tender but often fatty pork cooked in a flavorful green sauce with slices of tender, julienne potatoes.
The a la carte dishes also are worth the visit, not only because they're tasty but also because they're so inexpensive.
A massive bacon breakfast burrito, for example, featured bacon, eggs and potatoes stuffed inside one of those giant tortillas for only $3.50. Breakfast burritos also are available with sausage, steak, chorizo, huevos rancheros and more, and are served 24 hours a day.
Lunch burritos are just as generous and just as cheap. Diners can choose from carne asada, beef, chicken, shrimp, steak ranchero and more inside a burrito for between $3.50 to $3.99, and one should satisfy a reasonable appetite.
Tacos are between about $2 and $3 apiece and also were tasty, though we much preferred the traditional beef taco served on a corn tortilla to the somewhat fishy tasting fried fish taco on a smaller flour tortilla.
Our only other major complaint: On the day we visited, we ordered guacamole to accompany our chips and were given not the chunky, fresh avocado version we expected but a tiny cup of runny, texture-free avocado dip.
A couple of side notes: Abelardo's features a salsa bar, where patrons can fill small containers with hot, mild and green salsas as well as lime slices and pico de gallo.
The restaurant also has joined in the trend of selling bottles of real sugar Mexican Coca Cola, though on the day we visited, they were out.
AMBIENCE: Abelardo's is set up in a former fast-food restaurant, and it still has that feel, with booths and tables filling up the clean and sunny yet somewhat drab space.
PRICE RANGE: Inexpensive. Combo plates are between $6.50 and $7.50, and a la carte items are $2 to $4.
SERVICE: Customers order at the counter, are issued a number and then pick their food up when it's called. The counter employees have always been friendly and competent.