We enjoyed two different Tex-Mex restaurants over the holidays.
After taking our daughter to see Santa at Brookwood Village the week of Christmas, we went to Cocina Superior, which bills itself as "Modern TexMex". There was a less-than-30-minute wait for a table in the sleek, modern restaurant, which was bustling and noisy.
Cocina Superior is one of the few restaurants that still has a smoking area. It's actually an outside deck area, with a view of the creek (or "brook") that runs in front of the complex, but it was mostly enclosed on this slightly chilly evening.
While you can get many of the fairly standard Tex-Mex dishes, Cocina Superior really shines on Tex-Mex with a twist. We enjoyed Angela's grilled shrimp tacos ($14.25), mesquite grilled shrimp with roasted-corn-and-zucchini slaw, served with arroz verde. There are several other fish and shrimp taco options, and other seafood dishes as well, including mesquite grilled mahi mahi, a shrimp-and-crab-stuffed fried avocado on the appetizer menu. Plenty of other choices, too including steaks, wraps, salads, and more.
Enchiladas al Carbon ($13.25) featured mesquite-grilled fajita beef topped with ranchera salsa, served with serrano pico do gallo, Spanish rice and beans. Unlike most enchiladas we get at typical Tex-Mex places, the tortillas weren't mushy. They did perhaps have a bit too much cheese on them, but otherwise were very good. Some of the other "Enchiladas Modernas" were stuffed with spinach and chicken; crab; raosted pork; and chicken topped with mole sauce. There's also a vegetarian enchilada dish.
The cheese dip was less processed tasting that you typically see, with more chunks of peppers. The chips were very thin and crispy. Instead of the usual refried beans, Cocina Superior has tasty refried black beans.
We also were pleasantly surprised by our visit to Amigos' Mexican Grill in Hoover the following week, in the strip mall on Lorna across the road from Arby's. We used to go quite frequently, but on a couple of visits the food and service seemed to have gone downhill. But it's our daughter's favorite so we decided to give it another try, and we're glad we did.
They've done some redecorating, painting the walls a warm distressed burnt orange color, with colorful paper lanterns hanging above the tables, and booths along the walls replacing the tables that were there previously.
Also new were house margaritas, made with fresh lime juice instead of a mix, simple and delicious.
Amigo's has two very good salsas they serve with the thing, warm tortilla chips, a nice red sauce and a green tomatillo sauce. Some dishes come with an orange habanero sauce that you should check out if you like spicy.
We also ordered two small bowls of queso-chili dip to start with, which is fairly mile. Our daughter loves it. She also enjoyed the kid's taco plate, which they happily prepared as requested without lettuce or tomatoes.
Tacos al Pastor were very good, tender slightly spicy marinated strips of pork loin wrapped up in your choice of flour or corn tortillas, three of them served with rice and beans, pico de gallo and the aforementioned habanero sauce. Nachos were fairly standard, although they could have used a little more cheese along with the beef, lettuce, sour cream and jalapeno slices.
The service was fast and friendly; we'll definitely be back.