While on a day trip to pre-plan an upcoming vacation to the Boone/Banner Elk area, my two companions and I stopped in Puerto Nuevo on a Sunday evening. Recommended by a nearby hotel staffer, we had high expectations and, once we found the place, we were initially intrigued by the appearance both outside and in. We were seated immediately and provided with water and menus. While the server attended to our beverage requests, we perused the menus, finding nothing out of the ordinary...no 'specialities de la casa'. When another server dropped off the obligatory chips and sa....wait, that's not salsa, that appears to be beans!* And it was, kind of a white-bean soup. We opted to add a bowl of "Choriqueso" which we tend to like under different names elsewhere. When it arrived in a hot cast-iron shallow bowl it was heaped with chorizo, a good sign. The first chip dipped, however, presented an unforeseen issue: the cheese had been overcooked, baked to where there was a thick crust on the bottom. Alas, this was no dip, it turned out more like a pie which we cut with a knife and ate in chunks (it was so thick and unwieldy that it didn't even work to stuff the accompanying tortillas!). Our other dishes included a daily special of chorizo tacos as well as beef tacos, chicken enchiladas, and chicken chimichangas. The special came with beans but not of the refried variety, they were more of a black bean dish which, with a dollop of sour cream, were deemed very good. The tacos, both chorizo and ground beef, were very pedestrian. The meat seemed overcooked as well as bland - it had no punch, no pizzaz, no character. Likewise for the enchiladas, but in fairness the chimis received a thumbs up. I ordered the only margarita in our group, top shelf/rocks/salt (I can't believe you have to specify 'rocks' for a top-shelf anything) and while it had a pleasant taste it had no tequila flavor and no 'punch'.
My take on this place: it was a marginal step up from a Taco Bell meal. The staff seemed pleasant enough, organized and efficient, although our server seemed a little unfamiliar with the menu. As a group, we thought the food quality was well below the majority of Mexican establishments we frequent.
* while the restaurant offers a 'salsa bar', our server didn't mention it; we asked because we had spied it on the way to our table. Also, it is limited to about six varieties, only four of which were labeled, to be ladled into small plastic takeout cups. None of the three we tried were anything special, lacking both flavor and heat.
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