The Restaurant Sampler



If one were to observe the Brown County restaurant scene as a whole, one could not help notice a certain lack of ethnic representation.

Not that there’s anything amiss with sliced white bread—I’m a fan. But there are times when one hankers for something—different—something international in flavor—something spicy.

Fortunately for us, there is a place just east of Nashville where one may comfortably settle into a big, well-lit dining room, bedecked with festive decorations and the feast of smell and taste. It is Maldonado’s.

Accordingly, I corralled my attractive associate, encouraging her to forego her low-fat, low-seasoning, low-taste diet. As with most people who take my culinary advice, she was ultimately glad she did.

Located at 51 Parkview Drive just east of town on State Road 46 East, the Mexican-themed eatery is authentic, friendly, and—most importantly—the food is great.

Maldonado is a family name and it seems to be a family-operated restaurant, which usually bodes well for the patrons.

And indeed, the expansive menu offers everything one might want for a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine.

A word of warning from many trips to this south-of-the-border restaurant—your dining experience will begin with your cheerful and efficient server bringing you a big bowl of crispy nacho chips and a little container of fresh salsa.

Do not eat those chips.

Oh, they’re good—delicious, in fact—and the obviously fresh salsa has just the right amount of cilantro. But years of experience have taught me that they are so good you will eat the whole basket full and possibly run out of room for the excellent repast which lies ahead.

Just a bit of friendly advice. Take it from a professional diner—a seasoned pro. You’ll spoil your appetite. There are so many choices on the menu that I can’t even begin to relate them all. From the 15 appetizers, we chose the nachos with cheese, beans, and beef. We were, however, intrigued by the “Queso Fundido.” With a name like that, it had to be fun to order.

The menu includes 21 “Chef’s Specialties” ranging from Enchiladas Rancheros, Shrimp Chimichangas, to Pescado Al Mojo De Ajo (garlic-marinated codfish, but, again, so much fun to order).

There are nine delightful dinners from the “traditional favorites” category, including beef or chicken flautas, camitas (pork tips with rice, beans, etc.) pork ribs with zucchini and the Chile Rellano Cena, a Poblano pepper stuffed with Chihuahua cheese, lightly battered and deep-fried and topped with traditional mild red sauce, served with rice, beans, and choice of flour or corn tortilla.

There are six pollo (chicken) dishes; five carne de res (beef) dinners, including carne asada; and seven specialties “de la porrilla” (from the grill).

From this list, I selected the Fajitas Monterey; tender marinated strips of beef, chicken, and shrimp sautéed with onions, tomatoes and bell peppers and served on a sizzling hot skillet with a huge side dish of rice, beans, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and tortillas.

It was delightful—well-seasoned but not too spicy (if you don’t mind a few beads of sweat just in the bald spot)—and too much to finish but too good to stop eating. I found a little strip of steak lying on the table and— yes, I admit it—I popped it in my mouth.

My charming associate opted for the Burrito Maldonado (why must I always want what the other person ordered?), a flour tortilla stuffed with beans and tender chicken and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and cheese and served with rice and beans.

Often people are happier, more relaxed, and perhaps even more efficient when you coax them away from their troublesome dietary restrictions.

The menu goes on and on. There are children’s plates, lunch specials, vegetarian combination dinners, create-your-own combination dinners, side dishes, and ala-carte orders.

And as the cheery mariachi music hummed softly in the background and I munched contentedly, reveling in the flavors and textures and smells and ambience, I approached a point of palatal satisfaction seldom experienced.

I was beyond dessert, really, but the choices were not overwhelming—just a little reminder of dessert, actually. So I indulged. There is the Sopapilla, a kind of fried tortilla thing with cinnamon and sugar, also available with ice cream. We elected to share a Flan Napolitano, a little custard with a honey-sweet sauce.

It was just the tasty little morsel with which to conclude.

I wanted to dally and perhaps parley with my pulchritudinous companion—but I had miles to go, and things to do, and I was suffused with a healthy ampleness and satiation from my gustatory escapade south of the cuisinal border.

In fact, stuffed like an enchilada, there was only one thing more I really, truly desired.

And that, my friend, is why they invented the siesta.