“What do you suggest?” I asked our server.
My family was sitting in a brightly-hued booth at Cancun Mexican Grill in Saline. I had spent several minutes perusing the dozens of “Especialidades Cancun” on the menu. Finally, I decided to leave my culinary fate in the hands of someone who knew the food better than I did.
“Molcajete is my favorite,” he replied, pointing to the second to the last dish listed. I wondered how many patrons even read that far down on a menu stuffed with so many choices where entrées range from $7-$15.
The molcajete, he continued, was a mortar filled with grilled steak, chicken, shrimp, jalapenos, green peppers and chorizo. When am I going to cook molcajete? Never. So I ordered it.
My husband knew immediately that he wanted the Cancun fajitas with chicken, steak and shrimp. My six-year-old was decisive as well, skipping over the taco, enchilada, quesadilla, and burrito on the kid’s menu to order chicken fingers and fries. My ten-year-old was slower to decide. He likes bigger portions than those on the kid’s menu these days, but still prefers bland vs. mature entrées with sauce, vegetables, spice, etc. Finally, he chose a half-order of nachos, just chips and cheese.
While we waited for our meal, we dug into a basket of warm, salty tortilla chips served with salsa. The salsa had a pleasing, but not fiery, kick. We soaked in the atmosphere at Cancun, which opened in late 2012 near the heart of Saline. Every color of the rainbow can be found on the walls, tables, and booths. Murals of wildlife, beaches, farm life, and Mexican casas grace the walls inside and out.
I asked my family how they would describe Cancun’s interior.
“Very Yucatan,” answered my husband.
“What’s Yucatan?” my ten-year-old asked.
“It’s a part of Mexico that Dad’s never been to or seen,” I quipped.
When our food arrived, I think everyone around us stopped to stare at my molcajete. I had a huge mortar bowl in front of me overflowing with chicken, steak, shrimp, and peppers topped with two slices of queso. As I dug in, I uncovered a delicious chorizo-laced tomato sauce made from tomatoes, jalapenos and onions. The molcajete was flavorful, smoky and fantastic. It was served with a plate of beans, Mexican rice, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo atop a bed of iceberg lettuce.
My husband also got a plate of beans, rice and toppings along with an impressive platter of sizzling fajitas. Chicken, steak, shrimp, onions and peppers steamed as he loaded up tortillas and topped them with the guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo. He finished half, just as I did with my entrée, and we happily took home leftovers for lunch the next day.
The kids had no complaints either. There was not a chicken finger to be had on my daughter’s plate when she was done, and my son, suddenly ravenous at age 10, could only finish half of his generous portion of tortilla chips smothered in cheese. It was no surprise we passed on dessert, although the sopapilla, fried ice cream and flan sounded tempting.
THE SHORT COURSE
To avoid wait: Go earlier than 7 for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays
Noise level: Moderate to high
Bathroom amenities: There’s a changing table in the bathroom
upstairs, but not the ones downstairs
High chairs? Yes
Got milk? Yes. Soda and lemonade are also available
Kids’ menu? Yes
Anything healthy for kids? A grilled chicken kid’s meal is available
Food allergy concerns? Talk to the manager as well as your server. They can look up ingredients for you. All food is cooked separately to order
Katy M. Clark is a freelance writer from Saline.
Cancun Mexican Grill
405 E. Michigan Avenue
Saline, MI 48176
Phone: (734) 429-2262
Hours: Mon-Th 11am-10pm; Fri 11am-10:45pm
Sat 11am-10:30pm Sun 11am-9pm