Cervantes Restaurant & Lounge
- 5801 Gibson SE
- $$ Website
Cervantes is exactly the Mexican joint you’re expecting, give it’s smack in the middle of The War Zone… er, we mean, International District. No, no – there’s no looming threat of bar-fights or line out the door of gangsters (unless they’re there to eat). It’s just been there forever and hasn’t really been blessed with an interior update since the early 80s.
If you work at Kirtland, you may have stopped by Cervantes for lunch, and possibly regretted it. Their food is palatable, but it tends to “rip up your insides,” as Phil puts it. It’s not our favorite “authentic New Mexican,” but… you kinda haveta go there if you’re in the area.
It’s about the atmosphere. The waitstaff should be as blue-haired as they are at Paul’s, but they’re actually mostly youngsters. The place gets just as dolled up for St. Patrick’s Day as Cinco de Mayo, and their house margaritas match whatever you’re celebrating. (The green salt isn’t lime flavored, just so you know. And the pink salt isn’t strawberry or anything. It’s just food coloring. Promise.)
Again like Paul’s, and the Monte Carlo, there’s not a window to be found, so the time-travel factor is high. Cervantes makes you feel like you should be smoking a cigarette discussing Reagan’s re-election over a few (too many) cocktails and a plate of something covered in cheese. Unfortunately, they still enforce indoor smoking laws like it’s 2012, but there is a covered patio out back, and you can definitely smoke out there. And get your Walter Mondale visualization on.
So, basically, go for the experience. But consider packing a lunch.