The menu has the familiar pages devoted to burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas, beef, chicken and seafood entrees and a large number of combination platters.
Mi Cocina finally pulled me past its "I look like I used to be a Hardee's" facade thanks to...its Bucky Book coupon. Yes, it's true. Every year I seem to end up with a Bucky Book which, come September 30, remains mostly still full of coupons. Not this year, I vowed. Hello, Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf!
The 2008-09 Bucky Book contains coupons from a number of restaurants that have already folded -- Osteria di Lucca, Herreman's in Sun Prairie, and Trapani -- so I figured I had better get moving.
Despite its exterior, Mi Cocina has a surprisingly warm interior, with a kind of makeshift lodge/New Mexican casa feel to it -- only with Formica booths marring the effect. Never mind, a lot can be forgiven with a decent basket of chips and salsa, and Mi Cocina's arrived on the table quickly. The chips were slightly warm and have an earthy, stoneground feel to them. The salsa was mild and a little on the thin and salty side, but still pleasing. Refills were quickly forthcoming.
Mi Cocina has a large menu which is basically the same as the menu at Laredo's, because, I discovered, the ownership of the restaurants is the same. It's been a while since I've been to Laredo's, because I felt that the food had slipped from pass to fail, so I was a little apprehensive about Mi Cocina. Maybe the smaller dining room and kitchen helps out here, because the food was better than I'd expected. While Mi Cocina doesn't rate as highly as spots like Juanita's, Tacqueria Marimar or my old favorite Pablo's, it passes.
The menu has the familiar pages devoted to burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas, beef, chicken and seafood entrees and a large number of combination platters. The seafood entrees are few (shrimp and shrimp & scallops) as are the vegetarian.
The Burrito Tipicos ($8.50) was a modest burrito stuffed with beef tips, served with a flurry of shredded lettuce and guacamole. The beef tips were tender, but didn't have the rich flavor of a barbacoa. The taco salad ($7.25), which seemed to be the entree at roughly half the tables I could see, comes in a generous crisped flour tortilla bowl with a choice of beef, chicken, or the beef tips. There wasn't anything surprising about either entree, but they seemed less slapdash than what I'd been getting from the kitchen at Laredo's.
The lunch specials, served 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. weekdays only, range from $5-$7 and mostly come with rice and beans. The breakfasty items are found here -- huevos rancheros ($5.75), Mexican omelet ($6.75, with chorizo and avocado), burrito chorizo con huevos ($6.25). I tried the huevos con chorizo ($6.25), scrambled eggs and chorizo with rice, beans and flour tortillas. This was a little bland without throwing on the leftover salsa from the chips, but -- well, I'm trying to decide between calling this meal "satisfying" and "not unpleasant." That sounds like damning with faint praise, and perhaps it is.
But, this is an area of town without much in the way of other Mexican options, so Mi Cocina fills a niche. (Abuelos is much further west, Pasqual's has a branch at Hilldale.) Would I rather have gone to, say, Marimar? Sure. Am I glad I used my Bucky Book coupon? You betcha.