Don't be fooled by its humble appearance, this Mexican restaurant serves it all the real Mexican way - Only fresher.
After years of abuse by chain steakhouses serving greasy nachos and the occasional Tex-mex offering, Mexican food is on the rise in South Africa. Real Mexican, that is, with an emphasis on fresh flavours and colourful presentation. Mexican Fresh combines these two elements with speedy, efficient service at what may just be the city's best fast-food restaurant.
And Mexican Fresh is unashamedly a fast-food restaurant. From the outside, there isn't much to distinguish it from any other chain and, to be honest, the location isn't one that makes for an especially enjoyable sit-down meal. The restaurant has a light, bright interior (no faux-Mexican cantina trappings here) but combined noise from a nearby intersection and a massive aircon vent right outside the door rather ruins the atmosphere.
The lack of atmosphere means that most customers will probably opt to pick up take-aways, which is absolutely fine. Mexican Fresh makes a mean burrito: packed with flavour and fillings and wrapped in a delicious home-made tortilla, it's perfect take-away food.
Sticking to take-aways, however, means that you will miss out on some of their more original dishes, best served hot and fresh from the kitchen. Dishes like crunchy tacos, and a build-your-own fajita platter wouldn't work particularly well as take-aways, but we thoroughly enjoyed them in the restaurant. The tacos, in particular, were a highlight, filled with shredded beef cooked in a tangy tomato sauce and generously topped with salsa and cheese.
Although the fajita was a touch oily, the food was generally much lighter than what one would expect from Mexican (or from fast-food, for that matter) and the use of fresh ingredients really stood out. Still, it's a pity about the location, because food like this really deserves to be enjoyed in more pleasant surroundings. Or your lounge.
Mains: R35 - R60 (all dishes available with chicken, beef, prawn or grilled veggie options)
Where? Riverview Centre, Cnr Conrad Drive and Hillcrest, Blairgowrie, Johannesburg
011 326 2276
by Joseph Mosselson