Dining: Patron brings bold Mexican flavors — both in cuisine and asthetics — to Fox Chapel
Walking into Patron Mexican Grill is a colorful adventure. One step in, and you feel like you are in Mexico.
Not only is the food authentic, but since most of the decor was designed in Mexico and imported, the ambiance is totally south of the border.
The lively decor is right in tune with the music, too.
Fox Chapel Plaza is the third location for Patron Mexican Grill. The O'Hara restaurant opened just more than two years ago and joins establishments in Wexford and Monroeville. It's easy to see why this family-owned-and-operated trio of grills is thriving.
Diners would never know that the unassuming storefront along the stretch of Fox Chapel Plaza holds such a lively restaurant. Walking into Patron's prompts memories of Disney World. The hacienda-style interior features arches and bright colors, including sun yellow, lime green, sky blue and fiery red.
The booths are made to feel intimate and private, because each theme booth has a terra-cotta-esque roof and festive hand-carved chairs decorated with parrots, palms, flowers and the like. The tables are just as colorful.
The evening our crew visited, the place was jumping.
Lest you think you're south of the border, TVs remind you you're in Penguins- Steelers- or Bucco-land. A sports broadcast competed with a reality cop show and various other shows.
Patron offers authentic Mexican dishes based on recipes from owner Martin Bolanos' native country.
Conveniently, for those new to Mexican dishes, descriptions are on the menu. You'll need a few minutes to get through the many choices available.
We started our meal sharing an all-inclusive appetizer platter that had samples to please everyone at the table. The El Bandido Sampler ($15.99) could have provided a meal for the whole crew with its large servings of four meats and a bowl of hot fiesta dip. We enjoyed steak strips, grilled chicken, carnitas, which are seasoned pork tips, and chorizo, which is Mexican sausage, a spicy ground meat. The fiesta dip is a bowl layered with refried beans, ground meat, pico de gallo and a cheese sauce. Even though we developed an immediate addiction for it, we still had plenty to take home.
We ordered Queso ($3.50) dip to go with our nachos. The warm cheese was mild, and the homemade chips fresh. It's tough to find a better combo than that.
A Bowl of Chicken Soup ($5.25) had the most chicken we have ever seen loaded in a bowl. Soft-cooked veggies floated in the broth amid rice instead of noodles. This is comfort food, Mexican style.
The Taco Salad Fajitas ($11.99) offer a nice twist to fajitas, which can be tough to eat without being messy and drippy. This salad version was perfect.
The Steak and Shrimp ($16.99) features a large, savory T-bone steak grilled to your preference as well as a half-dozen jumbo shrimp perfectly seasoned. It was accompanied by Spanish rice with pico de gallo, lettuce and sour cream. You can sub in fries, if you don't want rice.
The most popular menu items are tacos and enchiladas, but there are 80 to 90 dishes to order, including menu pages dedicated to all-things-vegetarian and all-seafood choices.
Guests can venture into Mexican cuisine as far as you want, or stick to American foods.
The desserts were just too tempting, so we ordered a Cheesecake Chimichanga ($6.25) to go. We shared the cream-filled tortillas drizzled with raspberry sauce. Word of advice: Try to leave room for at least a bite of these.
Rebecca Killian is a features editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-226-4669.