Restaurant Review: El Sombrero (Southington, CT)

8:35 PM

Don't let the cactus fool you - this is a strip mall in Connecticut.

Smartphones have decidedly changed the way my family travels. On a long road trip, web access has settled arguments with a quick Google search. And even better, finding a Starbucks or a place to eat is a snap thanks to sites such as Yelp and Citysearch. So while driving through Connecticut on our way home from Amish Country, I turned to my BlackBerry to help us find a good restaurant that all of us would like.

Because we wanted to avoid the national chains, we were excited to try what was reviewed as a "hidden gem". We were swayed to drive to El Sombrero (off I-84) in a quiet Connecticut town thanks to reviews such as "THE best salsa EVER" and "the best Mexican food in CT hands down!" El Sombrero even had a Facebook fan page, so it had to be good, right? Well, not exactly...

Located in the Oak Hill strip mall, we walk in to find the place decorated with pinatas, sombreros, and every other cliche you can think of. We were seated right away in the "main" dining room and given menus. The dinner menu was extensive but a little gimmicky. The boys were given childrens' menus and crayons. From their off-the-shelf kids' menu, there was a selection of burgers, chicken fingers, hot dog, mac-n-cheese, and grilled cheese (groan). There was also a taco, enchilada, burrito and quesadillas, so we ordered our youngest the kids' quesadillas ($5.50). Our oldest loves fish tacos, so we order him the fish tacos ($10.25) off the regular menu. Umdaddy got the Carnitas Asadas ($11.95) and I went with the chicken and beef fajitas ($13.95).

Fish Tacos with rice, refried beans. Notice the kid's menu?

After chowing on some corn chips and possibly the WORST salsa I've ever had (think tomato sauce from a can), our food arrived. The kids quesadillas were two flour tortillas with a side of rice and beans. The little one ate some rice and corn chips. The fish tacos platter was big enough for three kids to share, so it was no surprise our son ate half of one taco and a forkful of rice. I had a bite of the fish tacos and was unimpressed with the lack of flavor and texture as compared to the fish tacos at Dorado Tacos and Cemitas (our favorite).

Watch out kids - hot sizzling meat at your fingertips!

Then came the sizzling hot platter of meat and peppers and onions. Learn from me - not a good idea to order fajitas with children and an overcrowded table! My meal was just okay - the meat was tough and over cooked and everything else was pretty bland. Umdaddy found his dish to be mediocre as well. 

El Sombrero hardly met our high expectations, especially after reading all the rave reviews. I guess this means there are not a lot of good Mexican joints in Connecticut? I guess we'll stick with pizza.

El Sombrero
151 Queen Street
Southington, CT 06489
(860) 621-9474

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