Review: Angela’s Cafe and Cantina No. 2 serves simple, tasty Mexican fare

03/13/2014 2:11 PM

03/13/2014 2:12 PM

When you pull in to the parking lot of Greenwich Plaza, you’ll see a liquor store, a massage parlor and a bar. Then you’ll spot Angela’s Cafe and Cantina No. 2.

There’s nothing fancy about Angela’s, but compared to its former location in an aging, tiny building on East Kellogg that burned to the ground in March 2011, this facility is like a palace to its many regulars. Angela’s aficionados know there are two Angela’s in town. The original is still at 901 E. Central. The owner of Angela’s Cafe and Cantina No. 2 is Pedro Perez, the father of the restaurant’s namesake, Angela.

ON THE MENU: Angela’s No. 2 serves all the traditional choices, including fried flour or corn tacos and enchiladas, football-size burritos, and everything in between. It also has a selection of appetizers, mainly quesadillas, guacamole and nachos. The only dessert on the menu is sopapillas.

DON’T-MISS DISHES: No Mexican meal is complete without chips and salsa. The chips at Angela’s are light and crunchy when served right out of the kitchen. We love the fresh salsas, both mild and hot. Since they are made daily, the flavor seems to ebb and flow according to the quality of tomatoes available.

The guacamole is fresh, a simple blend of avocados, tomatoes and finely diced onion. There doesn’t appear to be any diced jalapeno in it, so if spicy is your thing, you may want to ask to have it added. Our waitress highly recommended the fajitas, so we chose the steak and chicken combo. They came out sizzling in a piping hot cast-iron skillet. The grilled onions and peppers were sauteed to perfection, so they still had a fresh and distinct flavor, instead of melding together in an overcooked heap like in some restaurants.

We also sampled the green chili-smothered burrito, which actually isn’t green at all. Perez explained that habaneros, jalapenos and Anaheim chiles are used in making the tomato-based sauce, and by the time the peppers are simmered for hours to extract the flavors, the green color disappears. Mystery solved.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was the tamales. Tamales are my husband’s favorite, but I have never been a fan since many times they are mostly masa-based outer dough with just a hint of whatever meat filling is used inside. In this case, we could actually taste the generous portion of the tender pulled pork in the center. It was covered in a slightly spicy red sauce that complemented the sweetness of the corn dough. The Mexican rice served with many of the entrees is full of flavor, as are the refried beans.

AMBIENCE: Let’s call it purposefully Mexican, with randomly placed bright, colorful art pieces on the burnt-orange walls. There is plenty of room in Angela’s No. 2, with all seating in comfy and spacious booths. To the longtime fans of the old Angela’s, the new location is a welcomed change – and a relief. I stress relief because now there are nice, spacious bathrooms – no more drafty, cramped community restroom like in the old days.

PRICE RANGE: Reasonable. Appetizers range from $2.29 to $8.99. Entrees are $7.99 to $12.49. Child and senior meals are $3.99 to $4.99. Sopapillas are $2.99 to $3.79.

SERVICE: It’s almost a given at Angela’s that not all meals for your party will come out at the same time. The small but well-intentioned staff can get overwhelmed at times. Also, for various reasons, the restaurant’s hours can be inconsistent. Call before you go if you are not flexible with your lunch or dinner plans.

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