Tios Receives a Good Review..????

by John on August 5, 2009 · 12 comments

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If you weren’t previous aware of my hatred for Tios Mexican Cafe, read this post before you go on.  Or you could just take my word that I really hate Tios.  It’s terrible.  Awful.  So bad, that for this post I made their restaurant burst into flames via Microsoft Paint.

I was notified of a certain article posted onto AnnArbor.com the other day.  AnnArbor.com has become the eventual replacement for the Ann Arbor News, which ends circulation soon.  It was written by Julie Halpert, a member of the staff.  I was unable to find out if she only writes food reviews or what, but I am here to say that she should be banished from ever writing about food again.  Why do I possess so much animosity towards Ms. Halpert?  Well, in this article she gives Tios a GOOD review.  That’s right, she gave the anti-Mexican restaurant a favorable review.  Instead of simply complaining about the article I will break down the article paragraph by paragraph.

When we walked into the new location of Tio’s Southwest Cafe, a sanitized spot on Liberty Street, my daughter complained that it had lost its hole-in-the-wall, authentic appeal. Tio’s was part of a much-publicized dispute when its landlord sold the building on Huron Street where the restaurant had been since 1986, forcing Tio’s out. It opened in its new location under the same management on June 12.

Tio’s never had any kind of “authentic” appeal.  That’s what’s so terrible about it.  Their food is a terribly Americanized version of American southwest food, which is rarely good in the first place.   Tios has decided to serve awful tasting food covered in poorly made sauce and yellow cheese.  YELLOW CHEESE!  As for the landlord selling the building, I believe he was trying to drop a hint that the food sucks.  Thank god they found a location, or that “world famous burrito” would have been no more.

As for me, I’m okay with this new location, where parking is far more accessible than it was on Huron. Tio’s changed the ambience little from from its predecessor, Salsarita’s a fast-food Mexican place. The interior is expansive and cheery, with bright wall colors and a loud cloud painting on the ceiling left by its former owner. A long counter where customers at Salsarita’s used to get their food was taken down to make room for a cozy island/bar area along with high-backed booths.

OK, so Tios decided to take their old location which was as close to Mexican food as Pizza Hut is to Italian food, move it into a former Salsarita’s, change nothing except for an ordering area, and slap their name on it?  Sounds like a Tios thing to do to me.  I wonder if they adapted some of Salsarita’s recipes into their own in hopes of making their food even less authentic.  I’m not sure if that would be possible, but if you ever wanted to degrade the authenticity of any Mexican food, all you need to do is look to Salsarita’s for inspiration.

Customers can expect the same quality food as they experienced at the former Tio’s, which means that some of the dishes are better than others. Service here, from the start, was impressive, with our amiable server consistently checking in on us.

SAME QUALITY FOOD????  It was at this point that I could not believe that Ms. Alpert was referring to Tios, but sure enough there is a picture of the restaurant attached to the article.  This woman truly believes that stuffing an Ortega shell with refried beans and adding a garnish of chicken and a few veggies is QUALITY Mexican food.  Credibility — Gone.

Our meal got off to a great start with smooth, creamy, perfectly seasoned guacamole and warm chips. Salsa tasted and looked homemade, with tiny chunks of tomatoes, green peppers, and onions providing a pleasant complement to the warm, slightly salted chips. Roasted tomato soup arrived piping hot, and it was a delightful, hearty broth.

I’m sure your guacamole and salsa were DELICIOUS, considering they cost you over $7.  Maybe next time you go to a GOOD Mexican restaurant you will realize that salsa is supposed to be served complimentary.  I will say that Tios does serve an acceptable salsa, but I refuse to believe that it is made in house.  And guess what?  Your soup was probably water and ketchup.  MMmmmm, enjoy.

As for the main courses, I most enjoyed the wonderful homemade Spanish rice, accented with chunks of fresh tomatoes, and refried beans. I would happily have made them a meal on their own.

The vegetarian burrito, filled with these ingredients, was delicious. My daughter complained that the chicken was difficult to decipher in her chicken quesadilla, the result of being so finely ground, you could barely taste it, though the overall structure and texture was fine.

That’s just great, the food reviewer from AnnArbor.com would be happy eating beans and rice for an entire meal.  That just says so much.  I know every time I go to a restaurant, I would be more than happy to eat breadsticks for my meal.  Who needs any of that other delicious food, I’m just going to stick with the bread.  It seems like the the lady’s daughter has more credibility than she does, although she did use Tios and authentic in the same sentence.  Tios’ chicken closely resembles cat food and seems to taste like it as well… And why are they using ground chicken in a quesadilla?  Have you ever had a ground chicken quesadilla?  I, for one, have not.  Does she mean shredded?  God, she’s terrible.

My fajita was served with fresh-tasting grilled chicken and vegetables, but it didn’t arrive on a piping-hot skillet, taking away some of the appeal. And there was no sauce, making for a bland-tasting dish. The grilled chicken fajita salad included fresh greens and slightly spicy dressing and was quite good.

She may be stupid, but damnit she’s right.  When was the last time you went to any Mexican restaurant and saw fajitas that did not come on a skillet?  That sizzle is like 23% of the appeal.  As for the sauce, maybe she doesn’t realize that you can get some at Tios for an extra $2.

Deep fried cheesecake is purchased from Gordons Food Service, but it was nonetheless interesting, with a an interior that tasted like farmers cheese and reminded me of the cheese blintzes that my grandmother used to make – and that’s a great memory.

Wow, what a great way to end a meal of terrible Mexican food.  No better way than eating deep fried cheese cake bought from the grocery store.   Did you really do that to your grandma’s food?  Compared it to Gordon’s?  Damn, that’s cold blooded.

This may be one of the most poorly written food reviews I have ever been witness to.  Not only is she giving a good review to one of the worst eating establishments in the United States, but she’s calling it authentic as well.  It is hard for me to believe that Tios has won several awards for best Mexican food in the area when Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor is host to SEVERAL incredible Mexican resturaunts.  It’s disapointing to me that a place like this can recieve good press while places that deserve it are left to bringing in customers by word of mouth.  Tios has decided to charge for any little thing a customer may request, while authentic Mexican resturaunts are happy to offer their home made sauces and salsa for nothing.  They deserve better.

I should add that the first comment to this aricle read:

This is NOT authentic Mexican folks….Try La Fiesta in Ypsilanti or try the new Mexican place on South State past Stimson called Burrito Borimex.REAL Mexican people make the food and they make it authentic!

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