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 the 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 90s, 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 that, everyone was really pleased with their drinks, the bright lime and mint flavors took us away from a January night and into a summer day.
After drinks, we ordered a ton of food since their happy hour deals were great and we needed something to soak up the booze. 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, these are no homemade empanadas. 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.
Another deal that we jumped on was the $3 Cicharrones, or pork bites, that came with a habanero salsa. This dish was my favorite because the pork was savory, the fat was crispy, and the salsa that came with it added a bit of complexity to the simple flavors. While the crunchy pork bites were my favorite dish, my least favorite quickly 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 with under-seasoned ground beef and mozzarella cheese. While I’m usually a cheese lover, this was just a blanket of cheese intended to mask the lack of flavor. The other major problem were the fried plantains which got soggy after a couple of minutes and didn’t add the crunch that they were supposed to. Mush with no flavor? No, thank you.
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, 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.