Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Meksiko…Looks and Sounds Japanese, But it’s Not!

Laurie and I have driven by the sign for this restaurant many times…and I was thinking “Mek Siko”…perhaps Japanese?  No indeed… I should have read it to read “Mex Ico”!  So, once again it time for an early dinner, or was it a late lunch? 

Meksiko Cantina is about a block north of US Hwy. 11, (Kingston Pike), in Farragut Tennessee.  Nothing is too pretentious from the outside…with the recessed lights adding a little flair.
You might ask what drew me to Meksiko Cantina… Why did I decide to give it a try?  The answer is found in a recent issue of Knoxville’s ‘City View Magazine’.  A dozen top chefs competed in a charity event…a cook off with the judging panel being comprised of charitable guests who paid generously to attend the event.
The owner and top chef at Meksiko Cantina, as well as another restaurant named ‘Shrimp, Oysters and Beer’, is Mario Navarro.  I read that Mario had placed second in City View’s entrée category this year with his ‘Blackened Fish Tacos with Pineapple and Pacific Special Sauce’.   His entrée had also come in second in 2012.  Since he was competing with some of the best known top chefs in the area, I figured he knew what he was doing…

This view is from the front door through the foyer/reception area looking back past the bar area into the restaurant.  Meksiko Cantina has a full service bar… We were told that this restaurant had been open for about 3 years.

The menu was large but not as overwhelming as many of its competitor’s menus.  We were started out with the usual ‘gratis’ corn chips and salsa.

Laurie tried a light flavored Mexican draft beer…Tecate…and she really liked both the beer and the chilled glass it was served in.
For those who really appreciate Tequila, Meksiko Cantina is the place!  Their list of available brands of Tequila totals eighty-five (85) choices…

Our server turned out to be Jorge Navarro, Mario’s brother and business partner.  The salsa that came with the chips was a bit too mild for me, so I asked him if he had any other options available.  He responded with a habanero variety on the left and a green chili variety on the right.  Both of the alternatives were excellent in their own way.

For an appetizer, we ordered our favorite standby…the ‘Choriqueso’ Dip…cheese and chorizo sausage. ($5.99) It was quite nice with lots of chorizo sausage bits…but it lacked any ‘heat’, that is until I poured a little of that habanero sauce in the bowl and mixed it up.  Then it was perfect!

Unlike most Mexican or ‘Tex Mex’ restaurants, Meksiko Cantina’s dining options include a significant number of seafood items.  Laurie and I had a favorite Mexican Seafood restaurant in Chicago that was terrific so we are always on the lookout for seafood options…
For Laurie’s entrée, she chose the ‘Altata Shrimp’. ($13.99) These shrimp are stuffed with cream cheese and crab, then rolled in bacon strips before grilling.  They were accompanied by rice, black beans, guacamole salad and tortillas.  She really liked her meal and told me that she’d order this one again! (FYI, she liked that green chili sauce that Jorge brought us, using it with her shrimp!)
By way of a little background, Chef Navarro started cooking early with help from both of his grandmothers in his hometown of Culiacan on the Pacific coast of Mexico.  The first thing he remembers cooking on his own was pickled poblano pepper stuffed with tuna and seafood ceviche.  His grandmothers continue to inspire him, as do memories of the many seafood vendors on the Altata beach in his hometown. He is also inspired by the cuisine of other countries such as Spain, Italy, and the Caribbean…creating fusion dishes.

I ordered the Baja Fish Tacos. ($9.50) My meal consisted of 2 flour tortillas stuffed with pieces of fried fish and lettuce, accompanied by rice, black beans, a small mixed green salad and creamy chipotle sauce.  The chipotle sauce worked well with the fish tacos…but so did the green chili sauce. 
I was a little disappointed with my tacos… I’d been spoiled by fish ‘filet’ tacos in Chicago but I admit that for the price, these were pretty decent.  The salad needed something…not much flavor, the black beans were OK and the rice was…well…rice.
Jorge was very attentive and friendly.  He gave us a coupon for a free appetizer at their new restaurant, ‘Shrimp, Oysters and Beer’.  Meksiko Cantina was clean but it seemed a little worn…and needs to be spruced up a bit.  We will return to try out other menu options!  This restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.  It’s located at 120 West End Avenue in Farragut Tennessee.  Phone: 865-671-2220.  Meksiko Cantina’s website is at 
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Dave. At least this is not your typical Mexican fare

  2. We will have to try this place. Thanks for checking it out!

  3. The place sounds interesting and seems to be trying to please.
    That's more than some do.Have a great holiday, Dave.