Friday, November 11, 2011

A Mexican Grill – East Tennessee

I’m not a huge fan of Mexican/American food… True upscale Mexican cuisine is another matter, but those upscale spots are few and far between.  In any case, we’re always open for trying a new place.  We finished a round of golf with our friends Karen and Charlie and they suggested that we try a new Mexican restaurant that had recently opened in the area.

This is Cielito Lindo Mexican Grill.  It’s been open for a few months and we’d heard mixed reports about the food, ranging from OK to Good… One of our blogging buddies told us that it was passable but both he and his wife felt that the owners would have to improve the food quality to survive. (There are a large number of Mexican restaurants in the area around Knoxville Tennessee)

Keep in mind that we stopped in for an early dinner…too late for lunch but before the normal dinner hour.  The owners of Cielito Lindo certainly spent a lot of effort to creat a colorful, happy ambience!  Very nice…

Like most Mexican restaurants, Cielito Lindo automatically brings chips and salsa to the table for a snack while perusing the menu.  One nice touch at this restaurant is the ‘Salsa Bar’.  This ‘bar’ features a wide variety of salsas that you can sample with your chips and/or your food.  Flavors range from mild and exotic to blow your brains out!  I like hot and spicy…but I stopped sampling the salsas when I tried one that qualified as ‘damn hot’.

This was my favorite part of the whole meal…the Queso Fundido appetizer topped with chorizo.  While it was too spicy for one member of our group, it was generally well received. (I just added a little more hot salsa to mine)  

In addition to 4 different kinds of Nachos, 8 other appetizers and 2 soups are offered.  Seven different dips are available as well.  They include guacamole, bean, spinach, cheese, chorizo, black bean and cheese and cheese with ground beef and pico de gallo.

We tried several different dishes.  This is the Chile Relleno with Mexican rice and refried beans.

I ordered the steak tips with Mexican rice, tortillas, salsa, cheese and beans…the latter with a nice bit of sausage added for flavor.  It was OK but the steak tips were a bit overcooked.  They were more like beef ‘nuggets’.

Another member of our little group ordered the Nachos Supremos for their ‘entrée’.  No complaints on this one…

This is a Spinach Quesadilla…a flour tortilla grilled and stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and cheese.  According to my table mate, she enjoyed this vegetarian dish.  

This is a chicken taco with lettuce and cheese.  Per the diner, it lacked much flavor and the chicken was a little dry.

The same diner ordered a ground beef enchilada with white cheese sauce.  She reported that the ground beef  had a ‘mushy’ quality to it which sort of spoiled it for her.

OK… in general, we felt that the food was OK, pretty average but not worth going out of our way for.  In other words, in my normal parlance, this restaurant primarily best serves as a ‘fuel stop’.  Cielito Lindo was clean and inviting.  Service was polite and efficient.
Now I must say that the menu is 7 pages long.  There are many, many choices for the diner to choose from.  With the exception of my steak entrée, everyone else worked off the lunch or ala carte menu.  Perhaps the seafood specials, the fajitas or the Special Orders are more representative of what Cielito Lindo are all about.  We will give it another try when we’re in the neighborhood…
Cielito Lindo Mexican Grill is located at 1265 Highway 411 in Vonore Tennessee.  Phone: 423-884-2885.  I could not locate a website for this restaurant.
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Sounds like you had the same experience as us. Since we'll soon be at the home of Tex-Mex, I'm hoping for some really good stuff.

  2. I value your judgements. It's good to have information like this on file. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. I like how interiour is colourfull:)

  4. Thanks for the update on this new restaurant. Your foodtography is outstanding!!