Garcia's Mexican Cafe
Garcia's Mexican Café offers sunny dining outdoors and indoors in the bright, comfortable dining room decked in shiny wood floors and walls washed in orange hues. The outdoor deck overlooks bustling Austin Street from its second floor location and offers a nice get away from your hectic workday or a day of shopping. The bar welcomes everyone for fabulous margaritas of every kind and a host of cocktails, icy cold Mexican and American beers and good wine. There's a very happy Happy Hour here Mondays through Fridays from noon until 7pm, serving half price beers, margaritas and well drinks.
Owner Manuel Gutierrez has been at the helm since 2004 and welcomes all his guests with a friendly smile and a commitment to service and quality. In fact, Manny, as he is known to all, is very community minded and even donated a delicious meal to the 112th Precinct's Auxiliary Police force, for which he received a formal certificate of appreciation. He also donates his restaurant to meetings of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, to which he is a member.
We jumped right in to frosty margaritas, served frozen, straight up or flavored with the juices from mango, peach, guava, passion fruit and more. The "Mexatini" is a sexy little cocktail made from mango juice and coconut that goes well with the house freshly made guacamole and crunchy tortilla chips. Next, we dove into some of the appetizers on the menu. With about 15 to choose among, the decision was not easy. We decided on shrimp Vera Cruz, which were plump and tender in an irresistible sauce of tomato, garlic and wine and a secret touch of spices. I could not get enough of this sauce and scooped up some more with tortilla chips. This dish is also available as an entrée, due to its popularity. Manny suggested a Mexican delicacy called "huitlacoche" which is a special variety of mushroom that is folded into a flour tortilla and fried until golden. We had never tasted anything quite like this dish, and although it doesn't appear on the menu, just ask for it and the skilled chefs will prepare it for you. Classic quesadillas can be ordered with chicken, beef, chili, sautéed vegetables and lots of yummy jack cheese for that savory flavor and ooze that we can't get enough of. Try a cup of "three alarm" chili at just $3 or jalapeño poppers stuffed with cheddar cheese. For three or more diners, order Nachos Locos, complete with the works: grilled chicken, shrimp, black beans, guacamole, melted cheese and jalapeño peppers ($15.95).
While we waited for our main courses, we were serenaded by a live guitarist who plays Wednesdays and Sundays, adding a soothing, Latin touch to your dining experience. Entrées include meat, chicken, shrimp and vegetarian dishes, all accompanied by Mexican rice and refried beans. Fajitas are perhaps the most popular item on the menu, especially since they can be shared by two people. Sizzling chicken, steak, shrimp, vegetables, or a combination, comes to your table on a cast iron skillet accompanied by warm tortillas, pico de gallo and guacamole ($16.95-$18.95). Mole Poblano is a traditional Mexican dish made with cocoa and spices into which chicken breasts are baked. I love this sauce and spooned it over rice ($14.95). I devoured as much as I could of Garcia's tacos al carbon, meaning tacos from the grill. Tender, marinated steak or chicken is grilled on the fire then sliced up and placed into warm flour tortillas with pico de gallo, grilled scallions and cool sour cream ($16.95). After trying a few appetizers, this dish provided plenty for lunch the next day. For those eschewing meat, the vegetable enchilada is filled with cheese, spinach and beans, topped with guacamole. You can create your own combination of tacos, enchiladas and burritos, filling them with beef, shrimp, chicken or vegetables. While most dishes are prepared with mild flavor, the chef will spice anything up as you request.
Garcia's offers an economical lunch menu, served Tuesday through Friday from $6.95. They will happily deliver to your office or home and provide you with a "lunch card". After you buy 5 lunches, your next one is free. Desserts provide a sweet juxtaposition to the flavors and textures of Mexican cuisine. Fried ice cream is the most popular, as is cool and light flan, creamy Junior's cheesecake and buelos, an open faced fried tortilla, dusted with cinnamon sugar, that rests below two scoops of ice cream. This dessert is ideal for sharing and the perfect end to a flavorful, fun meal at Garcia's. Enjoy a glass of Tia Maria or Kahlua to help digest.
Garcia's is open seven days a week. Lunch is served Tuesdays through Fridays and dinner is served all seven nights. On weekends, special dishes such as paella, roasted pork and steak are featured. Don't forget the live music on Wednesdays and Sundays and Happy Hour Monday through Friday from noon until 7pm. Life is a fiesta so come celebrate at Garcia's Mexican Café.