Mexican Radio

So, we’ve visited Mexican Radio! Actually, we’ve visited Mexican Radio multiple times. It’s World Cup soccer time, and we have no cable. So there’s been a number of outings to bars lately, because Cute W is obsessed, M and I are very interested, and J will happily come to watch if it means sodas, Shirley Temples, Buffalo chicken wings or nachos are involved. But Cute W and I also had a date there–woo, hoo! We went on a Friday, fully expecting to wait around quite a bit, because, really, hanging around and drinking margaritas while chit-chatting with your spouse ain’t so bad. And we did wait, but we had a lovely time.

So! First, I should tell you that Cute W was extraordinarily excited for Mexican Radio. If only someone would give him a massive amount of capital, he has all sorts of economic development schemes that he’d like to implement in Schenectady. We’ve been pining for a sit-down Mexican place with margaritas for a very, very long time. Actually, we would have liked one on Upper Union Street so that we could each drink a pitcher and stumble home, but we were still psyched about Mexican Radio. And Cute W particularly likes to see businesses that are willing to invest in creating an awesome experience for customers (as opposed to when folks half-ass it–insert passive aggressive link here). So the gorgeousness of the new building and even the oh-so-slowness of the opening, only increased the hype in our household.

The place is gorgeous. I didn’t take any photos of the interior, because you’ll do better to just check out the Times Union’s photos instead. It’s a lovely place. It feels like a destination, many people were all dressed up, it’s got atmosphere like crazy and fun outdoor space, too. There are three different bars, so it can be quite busy without feeling overcrowded.  There’s room for many more tables, and right now they’re not filling all the tables because it’s a whole new staff and they’re getting up to speed. Sometimes it really feels like the staff is learning on the job, like when Cute W asked the bartender for a Paloma and the guy started to look up the recipe on his phone, or when our server didn’t think to ask us which size appetizer we’d like. But every staff member we’ve encountered has been quite friendly and polite.

And, yeah, it’s a little too expensive: $8 to $12 for a margarita, and burritos in the $17-$20 range. Almost every item that arrived seemed like it was bit less actual food than I’d expected, given the prices on the menu.

The food we tasted seemed to fall into two categories: super-yummy and not-so-great.

In the appetizer category, we loved the Mexican Mac ‘n Cheese ($5 for the small order you see here),  savory comfort food that had us wishing we’d gone large:

Mex mac

Cute W and J also split Nachos, and they both really enjoyed them. Filed under not-so-great were the Radio Roll-Ups, which were fine, small, and boring.

For main dishes, Cute W and I split two entrees. We thought that the $20 Cajun Burrito was delicious, packed with yummy chorizo and shrimp.

Mex cajun

It came with your choice of beans and rice or a side salad. We weren’t huge fans of the beans in particular. However, the side salad is delicious, and I don’t think it’s just because I am a sucker for a salad (although, yes, I do love me some salad). It was fresh and delightful with a dressing and other elements that put me at war with myself: I wanted to shove it all in my mouth before Cute W got his fair share, but I also wanted to linger and analyze the ingredients for home replication.

Mex salad

In fact, just writing this post is making me realize that I could choose to eat this salad as my meal, possibly with grilled-something-delicious thrown on top, and it makes me want to go back again. Soon.

Our Enchiladas dish was disappointing, though. We asked three different fillings (I think it was the shredded chicken, the ground beef, and the pulled pork) and three different sauces (Red, Salsa Verde, & House Mole). We thought that the meats were fine but not outstanding, and we were split of the two sauces: Cute W liked the Red while I thought it was dull, I thought the green was delicious and bright while Cute W found it, um, too bright, and we both agreed that the House Mole was too overpoweringly dense with chocolate, a particular disappointment because mole is Cute W’s favorite.

So, the verdict? We like Mexican Radio almost as much as we like the idea of Mexican Radio. It’s a fun outing, I love margaritas, and some of the food was awesome. The staff were all friendly and I think it’s a great addition to downtown. Would I have appreciated a little more flavor or even a little more actual food in some of the dishes? Yeah. Do I think that the food at La Mexicana Grocery‘s restaurant is more consistently yummy? Yeah. But going back to that whole idea about the overall experience, it was wonderful to hang out on the lovely patio in a pair of heels slurping down margaritas, and the atmosphere lends itself to family, date, or girls’ nights, so we’ll absolutely be going again. You should try it!

But I feel compelled to nag you: I insisted that you must try Tara Kitchen a year and a half ago, so if you haven’t tried it yet, queue Mexican Radio behind Tara Kitchen. Really.

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