Los Cabos Mexican Grill – a family-owned restaurant with zesty food

If you are a chile relleno aficionado and think you have tasted them all – visit Los Cabos Mexican Grill in Murrieta and taste their version. It has a slightly different flavor with a bit of a kick to it. Besides chile rellenos, the restaurant serves a wide variety of Mexican food that the owner Felix Aguilar describes as “California-style fusion – a new generation Mexican food.” Felix is experimenting with an expanded menu which includes food prepared “Peruvian-style.”

Los Cabos opened its doors in 2007, but Felix and his wife, Miriam Suyapa Aguilar started from the ground up – they actually built the building that houses their restaurant. The couple chose cheerful colors for the walls and interior. The unique décor items, such as hand-hewn pottery pieces and metal sculptures, were collected from Mexico or Central America. This festive aura is enhanced by the music of Mexico.

Felix has owned restaurants in Southern California since 1983, but his fascination with the business was stirred as a child growing up in El Salvador. There his mother owned a small restaurant where the scents and tastes profoundly affected him, igniting a desire to establish his own restaurant.

An innovative thinker, Felix has developed new ways to enhance the dining experience. One aspect of this enhancement is the method of ordering combination plates. The traditional procedure is to assign numbers to certain plate combinations so the diner who orders item number one knows that he will always be served the same items, such as tacos and enchiladas.

At Los Cabos the combo meals start with a base of rice, beans and sour cream, then the diner chooses what will accompany that medley. Combo 1 includes one side order of the diners choosing from a list of ten items. Combo 2 includes two items…and so on…

I chose Combo 3, which meant that I was able to choose three items to accompany the refried beans, rice and sour cream. My dish included a chile relleno, enchilada chile verde and chicken enchilada.

The chile relleno was unlike any I had ever tasted – something gave it an extra zip. What was that ingredient? I soon discovered it was actually two ingredients. The dark green roasted pasilla chile gave the dish a sweet flavor and the Monterey pepper jack cheese lent a zesty flair.

Sometimes rice at Mexican restaurants can tend to be on the dry side, but at Los Cabos the rice is moist and flavorful. Corn and tender shaved carrots add flavor. Their rice dish is made “three or four times a day,” according to Felix.

The salsa deserves a nod as well. It’s house-made, a tad sweet, and somewhat hot due to the jalapeño and serrano peppers. The sauce is flavored with cilantro and thick with onions and tomatoes.

If you want something cool and refreshing try the “Tostada Grande.” It’s artfully presented and overflowing with fresh ingredients. A crispy flour tortilla is coated with a light layer of refried pinto beans, then lettuce, finely diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo and guacamole. Marinated grilled chicken crowds the top of the tostada. Each piece of chicken is small, and thus the grilled, spicy flavor infuses more of the meat.

Something new on the horizon for next year will be an “Express Lunch” served buffet-style for the busy person who doesn’t have time to wait. The buffet area will be open for two hours during lunch. However, diners may also order off the menu during this time.

Los Cabos Mexican Grill is located at 26770 Jefferson Ave. in Murrieta. Contact them at (951) 894-4749 or find more information on the web at www.loscabosmexicancantina.com. The restaurant opens every day at 8:30 a.m. A full-service bar and a catering menu are also available.

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