Tag Archives: Let Downs

Mija Cantina: Not Worth Their Salt

13 Jun

The Boston Nacho News Network (BNNN) is all atwitter today with the news that Jalepenos is closing (the curse of Our House West rears its ugly head…). But with its passing comes another crappy Mexican restaurant–this time in the doldrums of Quincy Market. On first glance, Mija Cantina & Tequila Bar  seemed to be a lovely oasis with a design concept best described by our friend Zach as “pro-tourist salvage-yard neo-mexigoth.” We would have been wise, however, to heed the advice of the many Yelp reviewers who cautioned us to keep clear.

According to our server, Mija opened two weeks ago, but if we didn’t know better, we would assume someone had hauled in a wait staff off the street, forgot to train them, and then opened doors three months early. We didn’t even know where to begin in describing the problems with the service, so we condensed it down into a list:

  • Upon arriving, a nervous looking hostess told us it would be an hour wait for a table of seven. This was Wednesday early evening, and once we pointed to a whole slew of empty tables and told her we would just sit separately, she told us they could push two tables together.
  • While waiting for our table, we noticed numerous waitresses demonstrate an absolute inability to hold a tray.
  • Our waitress could only find one drink menu, and then brought out the wrong beer three times. We asked for a Long Trail IPA–first they served us Bud Light. Twice they brought out Harpoon IPA. We gave up after that.
  • It took five bartenders 22 minutes to serve us two margaritas so bad that we had to send them back.
  • In deference to our vegetarian table-mate, we asked for carnitas to be served on the side of our ‘chos. When the runner put the plate on the table, we saw a distinct pile of meat. Asking him if these had “carnitas on the side,” he quickly said yes and left before we could argue. We would have been grumpy about this until we noticed that the beans had meat built in. Which brings us to the issue of the nachos…
Based on the description on the menu, these nachos had promise: tortilla chips, charro beans (pinto beans with bacon and chorizo) , Monterey jack cheese, chile con queso, pico, crema, guacamole, and carnitas.
  • Appearance: (7.5) Attractive, with an artful drizzle of crema.  Points off for the “on the side” carnitas…
  • Quality: (7) We enjoyed the carnitas and beans; however, the chips were both unevenly cooked and unevenly salted, so much so that there were bites that left us choking and teary-eyed with sodium overdose (and Nacho Patrol LOVES their salt).  The guacamole and salsa were nothing special.
  • Distribution: (7.3) There were a lot of toppings, but overall the dish was heavy, rather than complementary. The unevenly cooked chips only added to the problem as some became incredibly soggy under the weight of all the toppings.
  • Price: (3) The management might think that $13 nachos (and $11 margaritas) are appropriate for the space and location, but we say they simply aren’t worth the trouble of dealing with this establishment.
  • Overall: 24.8/40.  These nachos aren’t bad, but please, don’t go.  This place hasn’t yet earned the right to be in business and we don’t want to encourage them!
We were lucky to share this meal with a small army of food industry professionals, and as they pointed out, a new restaurant needs a competent wait-staff to support it while it builds a reputation. Sadly, Mija’s under-qualified staff and overpriced menu handicapped what could have been a pleasant dining experience. We will be eagerly anticipating the next Mexican restaurant to sweep in on the Tex-Mex tides.
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Cactus Club: The Official Boylston Epic (Part 4)

13 Jun

Looking for overpriced Mexican food? Weak margaritas? Bro-ish atmosphere? A stuffed buffalo that occasionally breathes smoke??? Are you in the Hynes Convention Center area or willing to commute to get there? If so, than Nacho Patrol has the place for you!

Cactus Club

Located (as is the pattern these days) on scenic Boylston St. just off Mass. Ave., The Cactus Club isn’t the only restaurant in the area that provides diners with the sensual taste experience of greasy Tex-Mex. Maybe we were just there on an off-day. After all, they are said to have the best margaritas in Boston. But when your “traditional margarita” with Cuervo sets you back $10.50 and your enchilada $10, you are more inclined to notice the poor quality of the food. On that upbeat note, let’s wax nacho:

  • Appearance: (9) For all the crap they do wrong, Cactus Club certainly has presentation down to a science. Despite a little char, these nachos were absolutely beautiful, as fresh and bright as a sunny day.
  • Quality of Ingredients: ( 7 ) how refreshing to get some black beans! It went a long way it battening down the chili powder hatches, which seemed to have blown open in some sort of Incident. It was literally a chili powder keg, reminiscent of some childhood mess your mother made in the crock pot. However, we did enjoy the pico (a little chili-ey itself) and the lemony guac.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (7) We suspect Cactus Club may have, at some point, hijacked Cabot Farms to fund the massive volume of cheese used on these nachos. The farmers weep and the cows’ udders are utterly tapped. At that same point, somewhere on the coast, three Nacho Patrollers simultaneously witness the glory of oh-so-much gooey cheese while attempting to chisel the clots out of their hearts. Luckily the excitement brought us back to life–it only took as a little digging to discover that the cheese was simply a ruse to disguise the plate of naked chips below. Sure, there was a lot, but in not layering it, the “cheese helmet” cooled and congealed quickly, making for an unpleasant and difficult nacho experience. Also, this could be nit-picky, but the wax paper underneath the nachos often proved to be problematic.
  • Price: (5) $12 for this particular plate, which we officially award the “Biggest Rip-Off Award” in Nachos. They do offer an $8 option, sans meat and guac. $8 for chips and cheese. A travesty!
  • Overall: (29/40)

Boylston, Boylston, Boylston…What shall these Nacho-Lovers do with you? After our overrated margaritas and wallet-cleaning nachos, we considered being sad. But then we remembered that Pour House is right next door…and there was much rejoicing.