I’m getting to that point in my life where most of my friends are graduating college and moving to other parts of the world, so in order to give them the proper sendoff we usually go out to dinner a few days before they leave. Most recently, a group of us from Temple’s Education Abroad Office decided to go to Mixto to celebrate one friend’s graduation and another’s move to Los Angeles.
This Latin American restaurant is a pretty popular spot and, not knowing we had to make reservations for a Tuesday night, we ended up sitting at their coffee bar and ordering off their happy hour menu there. While we didn’t mind this as this seating arrangement afforded us some privacy, others who are more particular about where they sit should always make a reservation here, especially since the coffee bar doesn’t offer any forward facing views of the restaurant. I wasn’t blown away by the tans and browns that surrounded the wooden tables as the decor seemed a bit boring, but I’m sure most people out there would prefer this view to one of a cappuccino machine.
Once we were seated, we all ordered drinks, which included $5 Margaritas and Mojitos. It took a little while for the first round to come out, but our waitress was very attentive, so the wait must have stemmed from the busy bar. Despite the wait, everyone was really pleased with their drinks, especially considering they were ordered during happy hour which doesn’t usually guarantee great quality. I was even more surprised when my second drink came out a bit stronger than the first as this rarely happens whenever I’m drinking.
After drinks, we ordered a ton of food since their happy hour deals were great and we needed something to soak up the booze we were drinking. Something that we all tried was the $1 Empanadas. You have the option of choosing between chicken, cheese, or beef empanadas. Between the five of us, all three were ordered. Everyone agreed that the beef empanadas were seasoned the best, but that the stand out of the dish was the dough that it was encased in. A nice golden brown color, this dough was both flavorful and texturally on point. However, two of the girls who are very familiar with Mexican cuisine mentioned that the homemade empanadas they’ve had are a lot more flavorful overall than Mixto’s. In general, I agreed since the fillings in the empanadas were dull and nothing about them wowed. However, I think that despite its shortcomings, this is worth ordering when you think about the price compared to how filling they are.
Another deal that we jumped on was the $3 Cicharrones, or pork bites, that come with a habanero salsa. This dish was my favorite of the night because the pork was savory, the fat was crispy, and the salsa that came with it added a bit of complexity to the simple, powerful flavors. While the crunchy pork bites were my favorite dish, my least favorite followed them. The Patacon Pisao was by far the most disappointing of all the food I tried at Mixto. This $4 deal was made up of fried green plantains that were topped in under-seasoned ground beef and mozzarella cheese. While I’m usually a cheese lover, this was just too cheesy for me. It was as if the restaurant knew the plate was awful and just decided to dump as much cheese on it as possible in order to mask that fact. My other major problem was with the fried plantains because they got soggy after a couple of minutes and didn’t add the crunch that they were supposed to. This is one plate that I would definitely avoid in the future.
One of the last specials that we all tried was the $5 Guacamole that came with plantain chips. The plantains were phenomenal and seemed healthier than the average chip while the guacamole itself had a nice, clean flavor to it. I tend to prefer my guacamole with a little more kick to it, but nothing about the dip was bad since the avocados were fresh. If I came back, I would order this again even if it didn’t wholly please me, but it does illustrate some of the larger spicing and seasoning problems that I noticed with Mixto’s food.
I’ve been to a number of restaurants around the city for happy hour, but Mixto isn’t one of my favorites. There were things I would try again, but just as many that were completely disappointing. The deals are a steal, so it’s perfect for everyone looking for a big bang for their buck. If you are a student or someone who thinks that happy hours in Center City are too pricey, Mixto may be the place for you, but if you’re looking for food that will blow you away, look elsewhere.