Food for thought: A real taste of Mexico

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 28, 2007

If authenticity and freshness are what you are looking for, you will find it overflowing from one menu in a Calera shopping center. When you walk in Los Potrillos Mexican Restaurant you see a typical, brightly colored restaurant and hear mariachi music playing in the background. Even the menu tells you that when you visit you get &8220;Real Mexican Food.&8221; What you enjoy from then on is more than typical. From the service to the menu selection, Los Potrillos offers an invigorating dining experience.


Family fun is at the center of this restaurant&8217;s concept. The owner Ramiro Mendoza named it after a song written by singer Vicente Fernandez called &8220;El Potrillo.&8221; Mendoza has three children, hence the name &8220;Los Potrillos&8221; or &8220;little horses.&8221; The building itself is colorfully painted in oranges and purples with various pi&110;atas hanging from the ceiling making it attractive to families, especially those with kids. The restaurant&8217;s kids menu features cheese quesadillas, Mexican pizzas, and even chicken fingers and hamburgers for the pickier eaters.

The restaurant&8217;s location also makes it an easy stop if you have been shopping at Wal-Mart or another store in the shopping center. Many like to quench their thirst with a drink during Happy Hour. Locals stop in from 2-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, to grab a two-dollar Mexican beer or one-dollar 12 oz. margarita. The margaritas include flavors such as pina colada, peach and tamarind.


The cooks and servers at Los Potrillos pride themselves on their unique menu. &8220;Everybody has enchiladas and burritos,&8221; Carina Mendoza, a server, said. &8220;We have an entire section with traditional Mexican dishes.&8221;

One customer was surprised to see Tortas on the menu. This dish is a Mexican favorite but is rarely seen on many menus in America. It is a sandwich that includes either beef, chicken, Mexican sausage or breaded steak and is served with avocados, onions, tomatoes, lettuce and Mexican chilies. If you are in the mood for seafood you don&8217;t have to write off visiting Los Potrillos &8212; you can try their Mojarra a la Diabla or any of the other seven dishes containing either fish fillets or shrimp.

Mendoza makes a good point when it comes to their extensive menu. There are more than 100 items to choose from which could be difficult. So, whether you are adventurous or someone who sticks to what you know, you can find a dish that satisfies your senses. Plus, any menu that includes tortillas will give you a taste of freshly made bread; another perk that Mendoza said you can&8217;t find everywhere.


Calera High School Principal Ken Mobley attributes his frequent visits to those who run the restaurant.

&8220;I enjoy the friendly and family atmosphere,&8221; Mobley said. &8220;They&8217;ve got generous portions and always fresh quality. Plus you can&8217;t beat the people.&8221;

Making sure everyone is happy is key to Mendoza who once was a student of Mobley&8217;s. By watching Mendoza talk to customers, you can tell he has become buddies with many of the restaurant&8217;s regulars. Other servers are attentive as well, making sure that you always have enough chips to go with your salsa and plenty to drink when washing down the spicy food.


209 Supercenter Drive

Wal-Mart shopping center

Calera, AL 35040

Phone: 668-3001

Hours: Monday-Thursday 10:30 a.m. till 9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday 10:30 a.m. till 10:30 p.m. Sunday 10:30 a.m. till 9:00 p.m