Thursday, April 30, 2009

Restaurant Review- Puerto Vallarta, Newington CT
2385 BerlinTurnpikeNewington, CT 06111Tel: 860-667-8080

The Berlin Turnpike is an ugly, boring line of strip malls, box stores and chain restaurants. But nestled within all that boringness is a bright yellow and blue slice of delicious Mexico- Puerto Vallarta. Walking into the double doors of this restaurant, you are hit with an energy that feels exciting and ethnic at the same time. There was a short wait with adults and kids waiting for a seat. Some guests spoke Spanish to the hostess, often a good sign of authentic food.

The wait was brief and we were shown to our table. The atmosphere is a little dull, rows and rows of booths. The dining area is quite huge with some table and chairs way in the back. Our waiter greeted us quickly with warm chips and homemade salsa. We ordered beers (they have Pacifico one of my favorites). The chips were delicious, crisp and not too oily and the salsa was amazing. If we had spoons, I might have eaten our little bowl of salsa like soup. It was thin but full of flavor.

The menu is quite large, ranging from taco/enchilada plates to plates of authentic Mexican food, such as the Arroz con Pollo and Carnitas de Puerco. I ordered two shredded beef tacos in soft shells (which comes with rice and your choice of beans) and Dave ordered the Arroz con Pollo. We opted for a second bowl of chips and salsa (and beer) rather than order appetizers. Our second bowl of chips were steaming hot when they arrived and still glistening from just being cooked. Our meals arrived quickly and piping hot! My tacos were moist and full of flavor, quite substantial meal. The rice and beans were perfect portion and flavor. Just perfect dish. The Arroz con Pollo was delicious. It was sliced chicken in a mild red sauce with peppers, mushrooms and onions with slices of perfectly ripe avocado served on rice with tortillas. The flavor was reminiscent of ketchup, but in a good way. The chicken and vegetables tasted perfect together- peppers still having a crunch when you bit them. It wasn't my meal to eat, just try, but I wasn't sure what to do with the tortillas. Do you make a little taco? Use the tortilla to sop up the red sauce? I don't know but the flavor was outstanding.

This restaurant has a patio for warm weather dining and while it is set back from the Berlin Turnpike, I'm not exactly sure how pleasant it will be out there. Though I'm willing to try it. An excellent value and delicious Mexican food that isn't a burrito (but I did spy some on the menu) this restaurant is absolutely worth going back to again and again. We talked about ordering a large dish as takeout and bringing home to share, but then we would miss out on the bottomless hot chips and delicious salsa as well as the fun looking frozen drinks other were ordering. I know the margaritas are outstanding from previous visits. This restaurant is good for a large crowds or for a quick casual bite. I recommend for a night out with friends or a quick causal bite, not quite a romantic setting. I give this restaurant 3.5 stars overall.

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