Saturday, October 8, 2011

…Patrón Mexican Grill (Monroeville)

I love…and hate…being busy.

I am way, WAY more productive when I’m busy – probably because I waste less time when I have more things to do.  I like to get things done as efficiently and quickly as I can without risking quality, so the less time I have to waste, the more that gets done (and done well).

October definitely has to be the busiest month of the year for me – May is a close second, though.  October is a month of working at Kennywood for Fright Nights, high school football games (Go Titans!), pumpkin patch visits, and the penultimate holiday – Halloween.

This October is no exception.  Between teaching, Kennywood, and football alone, my weekends are booked, with the exception of Sundays – and last Sunday was my trip to Triple B; this Sunday, I’m going to the Steeler game…it seems like I never have a free day.  Even tomorrow, after working at Kennywood until 1 AM and having to work again at 6:30 PM, in between I am doing the South Side Step Trek – walking 2700 steps, along with touring other South Side venues.

Thank goodness for coffee.

I have been concerned about finding time to visit restaurants this month – which is why I was relieved that my brother called me on Wednesday, asking if I wanted to go to Monroeville with him so that he could complete some errands for his trip to Disney World the next day.  In addition, he said that he wanted to go to Patrón for dinner.

He knows me so well.

I had been hearing about Patrón for awhile now, as several of my friends have gone there.  Rumor has it that their Wexford location is better than their Monroeville location, but I’ll take what I can get – Wexford is a bit of a drive from the ‘Miff for an impromptu dinner.


Walking into Patrón feels like walking into a redecorated Chili’s – after all, it used to be a Chili’s.  Host stand and bar straight ahead, restrooms in the section to the right, booths and tables set up the same way…but…the chairs, tables, and booths were not plain at all.  They all had things painted or decorated on them – chili peppers, Aztec symbols, exotic birds – there was plenty to see (and all vibrantly colored).  The wait staff was all Hispanic, and our waiter had a very thick accent. 

I ordered a lime Jarritos (traditional Hispanic soft drink) and a water for my beverages, and we were immediately served chips and salsa.  The chips were obviously not made fresh, as they were very uniform and not at all warm, and the salsa was served in a small carafe with individual bowls for both my brother and I.  We each poured salsa into our bowls and tried it with the chips.


My brother immediately commented that the salsa was too onion-y.  I tried it again, and made this comparison: you know how McDonald’s hamburgers have those chopped up onions on them?  And then they mix with the ketchup on the burger?

Yeah.  That’s what this salsa tasted like.  Onions and ketchup.  I still ate a boatload of chips and salsa, because I was starving (and I like onions, unlike my brother).  
For my meal, I ordered the “Special Santa Fe”, which included a chalupa, taco, chile relleno, tamale, enchilada, rice, and beans.  I thought it was a good “sampler” to get an idea of what each of their entrees would contain.  I didn’t realize that I was ordering a double meal!  It was only $14.99, but SO MUCH FOOD that it had to be brought out on two separate plates.

Tamale, enchilada, rice, beans (bottom left of the rice is where it tasted nutmeg-y)

Taco, chalupa, chile relleno (and good guac!)

My brother ordered the “Enchilada Mexicanas” with beef, which was $5.00 less than my meal (and he ate most of it, by the way).

Enchiladas Mexicanas (beef with red and green sauce)

I sampled each food, because I knew that there was no way that I was going to be able to eat all of it, but I made sure to eat my taco and chalupa, since those would not reheat well.  I was glad that the cheese was queso fresco, since that is an authentic Mexican cheese, but my taco and chalupa were not exactly anything to rave over.  They were a bit bland, to say the least.  I was happy with my chile relleno, enchilada, and tamale, so I decided to save those as leftovers (which I just ate for dinner at Kennywood before typing this post, and they were just as good reheated!)

I was most intrigued by the rice – when I tried it, there was a distinct flavor – almost like nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice – that I could taste in the one section of rice.  Strange, yes.  However, whatever anomaly this was, I welcomed, as the rice itself was also bland.

My brother wasn’t thrilled about the red sauce on his enchiladas, but he liked the green sauce better.  I asked to try the green sauce, because it looked an awful lot like the green sauce on enchiladas that I had so often during my visit to Mexico 12 years ago.

And you know what?  I’m surprised that I remember this, but it tasted just like that green sauce, too.

I wasn’t totally disappointed with my visit to Patrón, since some things reminded me of foods that I ate in Mexico, but it could have been better.  I really want to see how the Wexford location compares, since I’ve heard such great things about it…

…perhaps when I have time.  And if I’m driving that far, sometime after I try The Franklin Inn…

Patrón Mexican Grill  

245 Mall Boulevard
Monroeville, PA 15146

Website: (currently expired; pending renewal?)


Patron Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

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