Yesterday as I drove to Cozumel with my friend he asked, "Where is this place?"
I jokingly answered "Eh, it's in the same place as TJ's Deli." As you may recall, TJ's Deli was the horrible restaurant that scored a 1/5 on food. And I knew Cozumel was in the same complex -- so I tried to scare my friend by saying it was in the same place. Here's the irony -- it IS in the same place.
TJ's Deli is no more, and Cozumel has taken its place.
The interior has changed slightly. It still has the same tables and chairs. While the booths now have small archways, and there is now a small bar. But the register is in almost the same place and the chair-rail and green paint are still there. Fortunately for Cozumel, green is on the Mexican Flag.
We walked in and were seated quickly. After we looked over the menu for a while, we made our decisions. However, it took several more minutes for our chips and salsa to arrive, and for our waitress to appear. Our waitress came over, and took our drink orders, and then disappeared before we could give her our food orders.
While we waited for her to return, we snacked on the chips and salsa. The salsa was very watery / runny, but at least the chips were OK. As we were half way through our chips, our waitress returned with our drinks, and took our food orders. I ordered the lunch special with a burrito and a chili relleno. While my friend ordered the taco and chalupa lunch special.
Now, if you'll recall, one of my measures of a good Mexican restaurant, is the chalupa. Often times the suckier restaurants will try to put one past its customers by passing off a tostada (round, crispy, flat, corn shell) as a chapula (round, fried flour dough). So, the test begins.....
Surprisingly, our food was brought out by the bar tender -- who spent most of his time hanging with the hostess, while the waitress busily ran from table to table without any assistance.
My food arrived, and I took a bite of the burrito. Which was pretty much an enchilada but with a salsa based sauce. Aside from the sauce, there was nothing to distinguish this from an enchilada. No lettuce, cheese, onions, or rice. Just ground beef. Fortunately the ground beef was seasoned well - it had some good cumin and oregano flavors. And though I wasn't happy about the enchilada-ness of the burrito, it was good.
Next came the chili relleno. It was remarkably small. However, it was covered in cheese and filled with ground beef. This was new to me. Every time I've had a chili relleno its been filled with cheese only, so the beef was a nice surprise. Unfortunately the cheese sauce wasn't really cheese. From the way it sorta congealed on my tongue, it seemed much more like a cheese-like food (i.e. Velveeta) than cheddar. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of their cheese sauce.
And as for the chalupa test -- they failed. It was indeed a tostada. Why do restaurants insist on making claims on their menu, that they just can't back up in their kitchen?? Ugh, I can't figure out if they're assuming that their customers are ignorant, or are they just hoping the customers don't care. But either way, the restaurant is undermining their customer base.
Also it should be noted that the staff seemed to be having some issues. It took a long time for our chips and salsa to appear and they were never refilled. In addition, our waitress was rather curt and abrupt, and the few smiles seen were tight and quick. That said, she was working the tables mostly by herself with limited assistance from the bartender and hostess who were busy entertaining themselves in a corner by the bar. That would make me cranky too.
All in all, the food was cheap and below average. As were the service and atmosphere. But the restaurant is still new, hopefully they're just working the bugs out.
Atmosphere: 2.5/5 (clean, but most other restaurants in the area have done a better job)
Price: $ (lunch was about $7 including tip)
Kid Friendly: Yes
Conclusion: The score is lower than I thought it would be. The restaurant wasn't bad, I just found it to be below average in all categories. The fake chalupa and cheese brought down the food score.
Cozumel Mexican Restaurant
120 Market Pl Dr