Fiesta Cafe is a favorite restaurant of one of my best friends, so I’ve eaten at the pink Mexican restaurant on First Street many times — and drank many a margarita. Open for 35 years, Fiesta Cafe’s menu offers pages of Mexican food and tequila offerings. I love the chicken fajitas here and the attention the sizzling skillet commands from other diners, but for this review, I ordered a variety of tacos, pollo con mole, and, obviously, some margaritas.
When my husband and I went for lunch last weekend, the staff handed us two menus and told us to sit wherever we liked. I prefer the dining room in the back of the restaurant.
In the back dining room, there are tables that can seat large parties, high top tables, and red booths along the wall. The booths are my favorite place to sit because the seats are comfy.
Within seconds of sitting at our table, a server brought a basket of chips with two bowls of salsa and three squirt-bottles. Served room temp, these chips weren’t anything special, but they tasted fine. Peppered with seeds and chopped jalapeño, the hot salsa was addicting and had a great spiciness. I like the mild salsa here, too, with chunks of onion and chopped cilantro. The sauces in the squeeze-bottles were fine but not better than the salsas in a bowl, and of the three, the bright green was my favorite.
We started lunch with a round of my friend’s favorite margarita: the 1800 reposado fresh. We chose the 16 ounce size of the 1800 reposado margarita ($9.32), which was served with a salted rim. The drink was deliciously tart, and I liked the fresh lime flavor and how smooth the tequila tasted.
Served with warm tortillas and a side of rice and beans, the pollo con mole ($12.95) was a saucy chicken dish that I’d never tried before at Fiesta. The chicken was great: bite sized strips that absorbed the mole. While it had a good flavor, it was less flavorful a mole than I expected. For me, it didn’t have enough chile flavor, but my husband still liked it. He especially liked that there was a lot of sauce, and he dipped his chips and dragged the rice and black beans in the mole. The beans had melted, gooey cheese on top which was tasty, and the side of rice was fine.
I ordered the restaurant’s special tacos: the Alex tacos ($11.95). The tacos were huge and came stuffed and overflowing with crumbly pork sauced with a delicious salsa verde plus onions and cilantro. The green sauce has avocado in it, which made it creamy and a great addition to the ground meat taco. The pork was well seasoned and full of onion flavor, but without the sauce, I think these would be pretty plain tacos.
I also wanted to try other tacos served at Fiesta Cafe, so I ordered an al pastor taco and one fish taco, both Mexican style with onions and cilantro.
Fiesta’s al pastor taco ($4.95) was so delicious. If you like ground pork, sure, get the Alex tacos, but in my opinion, this al pastor taco is a superior pork taco. Inside slightly crisp griddled tortillas, pineapple chunks and chewy, fatty bits of pork had a flavorful seasoning, and that sweet and salty combination was really yummy.
For the final taco, I ordered one I’d never tried before: the fish taco ($4.95), which had the option of grilled or breaded, and we chose grilled. The double corn tortillas didn’t break at all — even under the weight of all the fish and slaw. The delicate pieces of fish were perfectly cooked, so flaky, and tender. The fish and corn tortillas were warm and paired with cold slaw and salsa verde, it tasted heavenly. The coleslaw was sweet, creamy, and dripping with mayo, and I liked it with the mild fish.
For my second margarita, I had a smaller 12-ounce size size, and I ordered the Herradurra reposado margarita ($7.85). This drink sipped like an island paradise on a warm day. I loved the sour and fresh taste. I could definitely taste the tequila, and it tasted excellent. This is my favorite margarita at Fiesta Cafe — and it was my friend’s favorite for years, too, before she fell in love with the 1800 reposado fresh.
For the final margarita, we had the 16 ounce house margarita with a piña colada flavor ($9.09). There were thirteen flavors besides lime to choose from: banana, blood orange, huckleberry, mango, passion fruit, peach, piña colada, pomegranate, pear, raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, and wild berry. This drink was basically a dessert margarita. It was syrup-y sweet and had a sugar rim. Sugary coconut and pineapple flavors dominated, and despite there definitely being tequila in the drink, I could taste zero alcohol.
Overall, Fiesta Cafe is an enjoyable Champaign restaurant with large portions and great tasting food. If you want to drink margaritas, Fiesta Cafe has you more than covered. There are over 160 different kinds of tequila, and every margarita I’ve had here has been good. Fiesta Cafe is a nice spot to catch up with a friend over tacos and margaritas. If the weather is nice, try to grab a table on the covered patio.
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216 S First St
11 a.m. to 11 p.m., daily