You don’t go to Los Pinos, 1225 W. Douglas, for the ambience. You go for the crispy taco.
The humble restaurant, which opened in January 2013, isn’t trying to be fancy. Its simple menu features the same combo plates and burritos you would find at most area Mexican restaurants, but Los Pinos stands out thanks to its deep fried tacos and one-of-a-kind squeeze bottle hot sauces.
▪ On the menu: The Los Pinos menu is small, but the portions are not. Appetizers include nachos, asada fries, guacamole made in-house, and chips and queso. I wasn’t impressed with the queso dip because it wasn’t very flavorful and was too thin. But you must top your chip with the spicy avocado lime sauce or red adobe sauce brought out with your entree. The green sauce is full of flavor with a building heat. You’ll add it to everything.
Have a guest in your dining party who would rather have American food? The owner includes burgers, chicken and kids’ meals on the menu. If you’d rather drink something other than a soft drink or Jarritos, a Mexican soda, $3 beers also are available.
▪ Don’t-miss dishes: Although it was the lunch hour, we made sure to order several menu items, including a la carte items and a combo meal. You may think you’ve had Wichita’s best crispy beef taco, but if you’ve never had Los Pinos’ version, you’d be wrong. Though we shared the tacos, I found myself secretly hoping to have them all to myself.
The combo fajitas ($10.25) with strips of heavily peppered steak and chicken came out on a platter also filled with green peppers, soft onions and tomatoes. You’ll most likely need extra flour tortillas to finish off the fillings. The fajitas would be better served in a hot skillet to keep their temperature.
Los Pinos offers a street taco served with a meat of your choice plus cabbage, raw onion and cilantro in a small white-corn tortilla. We agreed that the diced pork bistek filling was more flavorful than the beef, which was dry. Diners can also select from tripitas, barbacoa, longaniza and pastor meats. I recommend you squeeze the provided lime over the tacos because the taco meat is not as flavorful as the fajita meat.
▪ Ambience: The small restaurant is able to seat fewer than a dozen customers in its booths. You’ll find yourself eating to the backdrop of sounds from a televised Spanish channel and the beeping of computer games from a neighboring table reserved for the employees’ children.
▪ Price range: Inexpensive. The highest-price entree is $12.25, but most average $8. Tacos can be purchased a la carte ($1.69). Los Pinos also offers a breakfast burrito of chorizo and veggies ($5) and a lunch plate featuring two enchiladas ($7). All plates come with fluffy Spanish rice and refried beans. Each table is served complimentary homemade chips with mild salsa.
▪ Service: The service at Los Pinos was courteous and swift. You may get a table visit from the owner/cook inquiring about your satisfaction. Customers pay at the counter, and to-go orders are also available.
Ratings reflect the critic’s judgment of the food, service and atmosphere in relation to the price. If you would like to nominate a restaurant to be reviewed, call 316-268-6327.
Where: 1225 W. Douglas, 316-927-3936
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, closed Sundays
Type of food: Mexican