Los Cabos Mexican Grill

Restaurant: Los Cabos Mexican Grill
Locations: 7030 Smith Corners Boulevard
Website: none available
Dress: Casual
Cuisine: Mexican
Price Range:

  • Lunch: $5.25-7
  • Entrées (quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, burritos): $5-8
  • Desserts: $3-4.50

Rating: 1 out of 5 spoons

The Scoop:

Mike and I were trying to visit the University location of Thai Taste (for an upcoming review!) one Sunday but alas, it was closed. We hopped into the small, colorful Los Cabos Mexican Grill instead. To preface, we have a pretty sad history with Mexican restaurants in Charlotte. There are a few great Tex-Mex places we love (including my favorite, the chain On the Border), but all of the little Mexican places we’ve tried have been disappointing. With such a substantial Hispanic population, you’d think we’d have some great little restaurants here and there, but Mike and I haven’t found them. Unfortunately, Los Cabos only added to our frustration.

We started our meal with some unremarkable chips and salsa. I hold everything up to On the Border salsa standards, and this didn’t measure up (nothing ever does, though). It was kind of watery and tasted just okay. They were good about refilling the salsa when it ran low, though, which I appreciated.

Los Cabos Chips and Salsa
Los Cabos Chips and Salsa

The ordering process was the first part of our experience that bothered me. Sometimes when trying a new restaurant, especially if the menu is long, I like to ask the servers what they recommend as their favorite dish. Unfortunately, a server sometimes interprets this as me asking them to use psychic powers to recommend a dish they know that I would like, which understandably puts them in a bind since they don’t know me from Eve. Dear servers of the world, when I ask your favorite dish, I really am just asking what you like as a foothold for choosing my own meal. I’m not going to be upset if I try your recommendation and it doesn’t suit my individual taste! No psychic powers needed.

At any rate, the server at Los Cabos suggested I get a 3-way combo to try a little bit of everything. Good advice if my problem had been how to try the most food and see what I liked. Bad advice if what I wanted was simply her opinion on what tasted the best. Because I wanted to try an entrée instead, I went with the Enchiladas Verdes, described as “three corn tortillas folded and stuffed with chicken; topped with tomatillo sauce, melted cheese, lettuce, and sour cream; and served with rice and beans.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t good. It was a pretty plate full of the exact same repetitive, tired, bland food found at so many of the little Mexican restaurants I’ve tried. The enchiladas tasted like someone had opened a can of chicken, warmed it up, dumped it on a corn tortilla and dumped some tomatillo sauce on top. I suspect that’s exactly what happened. The taste was terribly monotonous by the third enchilada. The rice and beans were, eh, rice and beans (I know I’m starting to sound like a fangirl, but On the Border actually does excellent rice and black beans). The slightly tart tomatillo sauce and the grated cheese sprinkled over everything (not a very authentic Mexican touch) were the only pinches of flavor in the whole dish. I’m serious about good eating, and so I actually considered stopping the meal after a few bites, cutting our losses, and trying to find a different restaurant (or even making a grilled cheese at home)! I should clarify that the food wasn’t horrible; it was just paying money for nothing!

Los Cabos Enchiladas Verdes
Los Cabos Enchiladas Verdes

Ordering Mike’s meal was complicated as well. He ordered the Enchiladas de Mole and the server asked (in an elementary school teacher tone), “Have you tried mole before?” When Mike said he hadn’t, she said she’d bring some out for him to try, obviously skeptical about whether he knew he wanted mole or just thought he wanted mole.

Mole is a “different” flavor — the sauce combines chiles with a deep Mexican chocolate — but I can’t decide if it was insulting or nice to second-guess Mike’s order. I think it was both: a nice gesture delivered in a patronizing way. As it turned out, Mike didn’t like the mole and neither did I, because it was more bitter than the other mole I’ve tried. It was odd how discouraging they seemed about it, though. The server was urging Mike to choose another entrée and recommending alternatives before he had even acknowledged that he wasn’t keen on the mole!

Anyhow, Mike ended up with the Enchiladas Mexicana, described as, “one chicken, one beef, and one cheese enchilada, topped with green sauce, cheese dip, and red sauce.” His choice turned out better than mine because at least the monotony was broken up by the three different flavors. It was still a bland meal, though, and he was dissatisfied as well.

Los Cabos Enchiladas Mexicana
Los Cabos Enchiladas Mexicana

All in all, Los Cabos was quite unsuccessful. The servers are nice and they serve alcohol, so maybe people visit for the margaritas? Being a tee-totaler, I couldn’t tell ya, but it sure doesn’t seem like the enchiladas would keep you coming back. Even with the inexpensive prices, I wouldn’t waste time visiting Los Cabos.

Have you been to Los Cabos Mexican Grill? Found any great Mexican restaurants in Charlotte? Share your thoughts by clicking on the “Comments” link below.


27 responses to “Los Cabos Mexican Grill

  1. You need to try Senor Tequilla on Rea rd. Incredible quality, fresh ingredients, etc.

    The salmon quesadillas are incredible.

    • Ooh, salmon quesadillas sound fantastic. I’ll give Senor Tequila a try! Your comment also reminded me that I enjoy Cabo Fish Taco (sometimes), but I’m not sure how “Mexican” it really is.

      Thanks 🙂

  2. There’s a great Mexican restaurant in Asheville, La Paz. I understand that there’s one in Charlottes as well. If it’s anything like the one in Asheville, it will knock the competition out of the water.

    • Hey Anna!

      I visited La Paz once a lonnng time ago and I remember liking it! There is indeed one in Charlotte over on South Boulevard. I’ll have to make my way back there! Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. In Charlotte, my boyfriend and I only go to El Cancun on Carowinds Blvd for Mexican food. It’s amazing!

  4. I’ve been to Los Cabos once and was disappointed also. If in the University area, I prefer Monterrey.
    I agree that Senor Tequila is great, but is far away for me.
    My top choice is Cantina 1511. I’m surprised to see you haven’t reviewed it. It has the same owners as Mama Ricotta’s.

    • Hi Rhonda,

      I was wondering if someone would mention Cantina 1511! I’m anxious to try it. What did you enjoy there? I read that Frank Scibelli visited Mexico City and Oaxaca to get inspiration for his recipes. It’s definitely high on my priority list.

      I’ll try Monterrey as well — is that a chain?


  5. I love Azteca Mexican Restaurant‎ over by Northlake Mall. They have never let me down when it comes to good Mexican, and the portions are huge.

  6. Hi Fantasyeyes,

    Is this the one on Statesville Rd. in the shopping center by the hotel, Jack in the Box, and Bob Evans? If so, I tried it and unfortunately didn’t care for it, but maybe I’m thinking of somewhere else!

  7. Yes that’s the one! Aww darn…I’m on the mission for good Mexican dishes as well. I think I may have to try one of those lunch trucks on Nations Ford to get good food. LOL!

  8. Prob the two best mexican restaurants in the area that are standouts above the rest are Cantina 1511 (East Blvd.) and Latorres (Uptown). This is where you’ll find “fancy” and authentic mexican cuisine. I can tell you they’ll be better than any of the previous ones mentioned. The only one I can’t vouch for is Senor Tequila which I have not tried/heard of. BTW, I also love Mamma Ricottas (in reference to your previous review). I mention this because Cantina 1511 is by the same owners.

    • Hi RC!

      Yep, I’m excited to try Cantina 1511! I’ve heard of Latorres — they have a salsa night, don’t they? — but never tried it either. Thanks for the recommendations.

  9. Ok ok, I’m sorry but Latorre’s is NOT Mexican, nor Mexican-American, nor Tex-Mex. It is, in their own words, “Latin Inspired Cuisine” or something. It may very well be good food, but it is not Mexican.

    Most of the other restaurants named are Mexican-American – which is fine because thats what most of us like. But I just had to point that out. And I am by no means a food snob and enjoy enchiladas as much as the next person.

  10. I forgot to mention which I like! A lot of times I’ll eat Mexican for lunch, and I’ve had decent food at Azteca and Tres Pesos. There are some good ‘authentic’ Mexican on South Blvd, but I usually don’t get a chance to visit them.

    I do have to say I don’t like La Paz – I’ve never had food with so much sauce and so much cheese and so little taste. Speaking of Asheville I didn’t know La Paz was also up there, but Papas and Beer is downright delicious, and also wins points for best name.

  11. Jax is right about Latorres, latin inspired/nuevo latino, not mexican. I second the comment on La Paz, lacks flavor and prices are a bit high for the quality of food. A place worth trying for the food/ cultural experience is the food court at Plaza Fiesta besides Carowinds. This is more of a latin american street-food fare themed food court, but so far everything I’ve had is good (empanadas, enchiladas, pupusas, churros, pastries, etc.). It is also kid friendly which is part of why I am so familiar with it.

  12. Fiesta Maya off David Cox is hands down the best. Music on certain nites.

  13. RC,

    I’ve read about the Plaza Fiesta food court (in the Charlotte Observer, I think) but haven’t made it down there yet. Sounds delicious. Thanks for the recommendation.

  14. SP,

    Funny, I tried Fiesta Maya once and was WAYYY not impressed. I feel very similar about it and Los Cabos actually — they both seem to be that chicken-from-a-can-on-a-corn-tortilla kind of restaurant. Maybe I’m misremembering, but even the fact that it’s vague in my memory is a bad sign!

  15. not surprised, anyone that has On the Border as a favorite has no clue about mexican food. here’s another establishment you may like TACO BELL!!!!!!!!!

  16. Ooh, sorry to hit a sore spot, SP! Do you by any chance work at Fiesta Maya? Ha. Sorry, but if it doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t taste good.

    Anyhow, I think I was pretty clear that On the Border is Tex-Mex, not Mexican. It’s really an entirely different experience. I simply haven’t been impressed with Mexican in Charlotte yet. That being said, there are some exciting recommendations for me to try above!

  17. I just thought I should point out that if you’re comparing any Mexican-related food you eat to that of On the Border then you’re not actually eating Mexican food. Mexican-American food has it’s place but you can’t exactly criticize something for being “not very authentic” when that is exactly what it’s not. Cantina has very good Mexi-Cali food and La Torre’s also has great food. But, as noted before, La Torre’s is NOT Mexican. If you want the real deal authentic Mexican food I suggest you brush up on your Spanish and venture into a taqueria. El Taco Veloz on North Tryon has great, cheap and authentic food. Also, Las Cazuelas on N Tryon is pretty good and similar to El Taco Veloz. Do not expect the same type of service as you would get in a corporate chain restaurant, like the food, everything is a little different outside the box. Good luck and please, please, please (I’m begging you) do not compare real Mexican food to anything On the Border waters down, markets and sells. If you want suggestions about what exactly to order at those places I would be more than happy to tell you!

    • charlottespoon

      Hi La Chica!

      I thought I was clear about On the Border being tex-mex. I’m quite aware it’s not authentic, nor intended to be. The point was that I’ve never had any Mexican I enjoyed more than tex-mex, so I’m not sold on the cuisine. And because of my Southwestern friends’ insistence that Mexican is fantastic, I think I must simply be missing something at all the Mexican restaurants I’ve tried in Charlotte.

      Re: the taquerias, I’ve wanted to visit, but I only took French in high school and college. Any hope for me?

  18. I think the author seems like a typical american and should stick to ONLY chain restaurants that will change the taste to americanized (aka bland). Anything authentic would be difficult for them to get.

    • Thanks for your opinion. Actually, Americanized Mexican food tends to be super-salty and super-cheesy, not bland. And since this post I’ve scouted out an authentic Mexican haunt that I thoroughly enjoy. It just so happens that in Charlotte, we have a lot of supposedly “authentic” places that sell cheap, canned-chicken sort of dishes.

      By the way, I’m impressed that after scouting this blog, you seriously think of me as enjoying chain restaurants more, generally, than non-chains. I’m absolutely not a food snob that will act like chain restaurants are the scourge of the nation so as to sound good — I think that’s pretty pathetic — but I tend not to frequent them. I do love On the Border, though! No apologies for enjoying a great meal.

    • P.S. LOL at the insinuation that I just couldn’t possibly “get” authentic food. Must be too dense to understand . . . um, flavors of food. They’re just too complicated for little old me!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s