Deep in the heart of an industrial area, surrounded by auto-body shops, corrugated tin, cement and ugliness, you can cross the border. You cross from the everyday world of Kaneohe into a bright oasis of conviviality, where giant cactus plants embrace the building and the sound of mariachi music wafts out into the night air. You are in a place where you can look your companion in the eye and say, “aqum se come bien” (the food is good here). You have arrived at Mexico Lindo.
Anyone who reads this column regularly knows I have a weakness for Mexican food, so reviewing a restaurant like this, which serves traditional food from Southern Mexico, is a really rough assignment. In fact, the only glitch in an otherwise perfect writing assignment was the dire lack of margaritas and Coronas at Mexico Lindo. (As I write this, the restaurant is working out some issues with its insurance company, so the drinks are as virginal as a Texas preacher’s daughter.)
The food and service more than made up for my tequila disappointment, however. Let’s start with the warm, crisp and salty tortilla chips, served alongside a salsa that actually had some freakin’ kick. We moved on to guacamole as well as a ceviche appetizer. The ceviche (in this culinary method, raw fish is “cooked” using acids, such as lime juice) was spicy and very fresh tasting, with an almost exhilarating flavor. Wow. Now I’m paying attention. This is clearly not a dive.
The décor at Mexico Lindo is festive, with yellow walls and plenty of green coconuts, and the young, upbeat crowd of diners only adds to the colorful atmosphere. It was very breezy, too, and a comfortable temperature.
For my entrée, I tried the diablos shrimp, which arrived looking pretty enough for a photo spread in Caliente! magazine. Jumbo shrimp were dosed in a bright-red chipotle hot sauce. A spicy mix of mushrooms, bell peppers, roasted onions (man, I am getting really hungry writing this) and garlic swum over a base of guacamole, refried beans and rice.
Overall, you’ll find the menu to be quite extensive, almost to the point of making it hard to make a decision. It includes plenty of vegetarian options, including meat-free burritos or quesadillas. Those in search of a light meal can sample a salad, such as the crab salad or juanit avo salad (lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, avocadoes, papaya dressing). Prices are quite reasonable, ranging from $10.50 for a giant California Style sandwich wrap to $12.50 for an enormous pork chimichanga, to mid-teens for fancier entrees, including $14.50 for my shrimp entrée. Kids’ meals are quite affordable ($4.25 to $4.95) for dishes such as Mexican pizza or tacos.
Throughout our meal, we found the service to be prompt and personable. The mariachi music added to the fun scene, without ever grating on my nerves. My dinner companions and I savored a fried banana split, which is just as gooey and fattening as any self-respecting fried dessert should be, and rolled away from the table completely satisfied. I can tell you it won’t be long before I’m back for another border crossing.
Lindo restaurant is located at 46-132 Kahuhipa St. #A, in Kaneohe. Phone:
236-4992. Lunch is served starting at 11 a.m., and the restaurant is open
until 9 p.m., except on Fridays and Saturdays, when they stop seating at
9:30 p.m. Live mariachi music is performed on Thursday and Friday nights.