Las Islitas

You ever sit there enjoying a really good movie, taking in the spectacle of the action and romance, being completely enthralled with the characters…. and then it all goes to shit with a horrible ending? Isn't that the worst? Well that's exactly what my experience was like at Las Islitas.

My girlfriend and I stopped in after a rub down at The Best Foot Spa because we were freshly relaxed and starving. Las Islitas was just around the corner, so we figured we'd give it a go.

The word "Interesting" is best to capture the essence of Las Islitas. There was a lot to take in. At first entering, I immediately noticed the vibrant and fun décor: Two huge murals on the wall of an island view, with oars, ship wheels, and other island themed decorations strewn about. We also saw that the place was packed  and that every single patron was hispanic, those are good signs to me. I also noticed directly next to the entrance was a table where they were selling bootleg DVDs! That'll definitely add some character to a place! There was two flat panel TVs playing Univision and music videos, by the hallway to the bathrooms was a random fish tank, with pet fish, not entrée fish, and a jukebox blaring Spanish music. There was also a separate sound system in the dining room that was also playing music, so at some moments, they were both playing different songs at the same time. A little annoying but a little hilarious too. 

Before our meal we were given their Chips and Salsa to snack on as we scoped the menu. The salsa was a tad watery and had a good spicy kick to it, but we added salt to help out the overall lackluster flavor. It wasn't terrible, just not amazing. We also shared an Horchata which was pretty good. It wasn't too grainy or sweet like most tend to be.

Las Islitas specializes in seafood but also has regular Mexican menu items like burritos and tacos, and even chicken fingers to satisfy 'Mericans I suppose. I wanted to try their seafood so I ordered the Filete Relleno, which had shrimp, octopus, tilapia, and peppers with rice and beans. My girlfriend got a carne asada burrito. Both meals arrived in less than five minutes from ordering and that always concerns me. It normally means everything is reheated in a microwave or they prepare the food in the morning and it just sits there in chafers until ordered. But, I didn't suspect either from our meals, I think the rice and beans of course were pre made, but my seafood was all items that would cook pretty fast in a hot pan, so no worries there. (And just as a funny observation, I was served this meal exactly as pictured…..what am I supposed to cut with the knife?!)

I first tried the rice and it was cooked perfectly, was a touch buttery, and had some corn kernels in it for a little extra flavor. The rice was overall pretty good. The beans on the other hand…. magnificently horrendous. I don't know how you screw up beans, that takes skill. A 79¢ can of Rosarita beans would have been better than this brown tragedy that was wrongfully bestowed upon me. Completely inedible. 

The seafood portion of my meal was the winner by far. The shrimp was cooked well and there was a good amount of them. They were sweet and had a good consistency. The grilled octopus was small in size but big in flavor, each little bite was very firm and tasty. The tilapia was buried under everything else, but shined by being very smooth, buttery, and cooked to perfection. And the sauce that everything was drizzled in was rich with a spicy undertone to it and really held it all together very well. I also got flour tortillas with my entrée and mixed the rice and seafood portions together and ate them taco style, I highly suggest eating it that way. 

Once we were done with our meals, our server cleared the table and we waited for our check….and waited…and waited… I flagged her down and asked for the check after about five minutes. She said she'd be back with it right away, so we waited…and waited… she was still serving tables and passed us a few times, still no check. After about fifteen minutes we said screw it and just rounded up how much we think we owed, left the money on the table and bounced. What a way to ruin a somewhat good experience. 

In the future, I'm willing to give Las Islitas another shot because my meal was pretty good (minus the beans). I'd like to try some of their whole fish offerings and desserts eventually, maybe pickup a bootleg movie while I'm at it, and see if they can redeem themselves by actually giving me the check when I'm done.

Rating Description
out of 10
6 Location
I've driven by and never noticed it before, it's kind of nondescript in a strip mall.
8 The Décor
I liked it. It doesn't seem cheesy or over the top. The hand painted murals really give it the island feeling.
8 The Prices
Prices are on par with most similar Mexican restaurants.
9 The Drinks
I didn't have any, but their selection is pretty good. Cocktails, Mexican and domestic beers, Tequila, Whisky, Cognac, Brandy, Vodka, and Wine all available.
7 The Food
On the seafood side, everything was great. The horrific beans were a problem.
I'm willing to go back for more seafood.
(out of 10)

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