It’s generally agreed on that there are seven different types of Regional Mexican Cuisine. Since Mexico is such a large country, this probably has more to do with the availability of local ingredients than the influence of local culture.
Tex-Mex cuisine is essentially a hybrid of Spanish and Mexican food dating back to when Spain occupied most of what is present-day Texas. There is another regional hybrid cuisine, Cal-Mex. It incorporates elements of generally lighter foods such as fish, lean meats and more vegetables into a mishmash of various regional Mexican cuisine.
The outside dining area is very nice. It’s well shaded and has views of Naples Bay. Friends wanted to eat here as they were intrigued by the Menu. I was too; fodder for another blog post!
The first thing ordered was the trio of salsa and chips. One of my dining companions ordered this as in their mind, the quality of the salsas served at a Mexican restaurant is a good portent of what’s to come. It’s sort of the same thing as the quality of hot and sour soup at a Chinese restaurant.
The salsas served here were (left to right), salsa verde (tomatillo-based), pico de gallo (tomato/onion/cilantro), and a salsa rojo (red pepper-based). They were served with ancho pepper-infused tortilla chips. Unfortunately, all of this fell somewhat flat. The tortilla chips, although pleasant looking due to their pepper infusion, were as unremarkable as the salsas served to us.
A restaurant very often cannot be 100 percent in its offerings, so we decided to delve further into the menu. A dining companion also ordered the caldo tlalpeño soup. This is a very traditional Mexican soup. At K-Rico, it is made from chicken, carrots, chickpeas, chayote, garlic, onion, tomatoes, seasoned with chipotle chilies and topped with cotija cheese and jalapeño cornbread croutons. It was really good, but a word to the wise. Not for the cumin averse.
I ordered the ceviche de sandia, or watermelon ceviche. The ceviche, laden with shrimp and grouper, was excellent. In true Cal-Mex fashion, fresh citrus juices, watermelon, mango, jalapeño, pineapple, radish, red onion, jicama and passion-fruit habanero-ginger sauce were added to the mix.
Instead of tortilla chips, the ceviche was served with tostones, or slices of twice-fried plantains. The tostones were good, heavy-duty to be sure. The problem was that they were too thick and too few of them to accommodate all of this wonderful ceviche served here. It didn’t matter, I was happy to eat my way through this excellent dish with a spoon.
One of my dining companions ordered the pork El Chapparal. Chapparal literally means a thicket of impenetrable brush and/or trees. At K-Rico, it’s a conglomeration of starch and cheese-laden comfort food. Pork served over yucca fries is topped with creamy queso sauce, scallions and avocado-jalapeño crema. I tried a bit of this, and it was excellent though industrial strength. Be very hungry if you order this or be prepared to have leftovers!
My other dining companion ordered the pork and short rib tacos. If two tacos are ordered from the menu you are given a side of black beans and Mexicali rice. The pork taco served here had slow-roasted pork, purple cabbage, pineapple-mango salsa, tequila pickled onion, cilantro, radish, jalapeño and cotija cheese.
The short rib taco was prepared with slow-roasted boneless short rib, pico de gallo, purple cabbage, spicy mezcal-chipotle plum BBQ sauce, radish, jalapeño and cotija cheese.
The sides were black beans and Mexicali rice. Black beans are apropos in Cal-Mex cooking, substituting for the refried beans seen in Tex-Mex cooking. The latter side of Mexicali Rice was seasoned with chili powder and incorporated fresh corn kernels among other ingredients.
The tacos were good, non-traditional but loaded with flavor. I did not care for the sides. I do not really like a corn/rice mix and the beans were just so-so, but that’s just me.
I finished by ordering a chicken taco. It was served with beer-marinated smoky pulled chicken, shredded lettuce, guacamole, radish, jalapeño, and again, cotija cheese. It was good, and the serving generous.
The food at K-Rico Mexican is non-traditional, following some tenants of Cal-Mex cuisine. If you are a Mexican cuisine purist, do not eat here, you will not be happy. I found most of the food to be good. It’s populist for lack of a better word and will be enjoyed by most. I was unaware of this before dining here, but some menu items are offered at a discount during their happy hour Menu, served from 3 to 6 PM daily in the indoor bar area.
Should you want to get your feet wet at K-Rico’s menu before going all in, the happy hour would be an excellent place to start. I plan to return to try other items on the menu.
It’s a wrap for another post on Forks.
K-Rico Mexican Grill
475 Bayfront Place
Naples, FL 34102
Open Sunday-Thursday, 1130AM – 9PM; Friday-Saturday, 1130AM – 10PM; Happy hour at the bar, 3 – 6PM; All major credit cards accepted.