I’ve never seen a Mexican restaurant with a bigger menu than Via Delosantos and when it came to deciding on a plate, I was no closer after 5 minutes than I was at the beginning. Everything sounded good but that was partly due to me holding off on lunch in preparation for a Mexican fiesta. The menu offered all kinds of combinations of the main items (tacos, burritos, tamales, enchiladas, tostadas, etc.) just like most Mexican places, but they also had some fresh ideas like the Spinach and Asparagus enchilada. The reason I point this out is that to many, Mexican dishes are so similar to each other that sometimes it doesn’t really matter what you order, because you know you’ll be getting some combination of cheese, meat and vegetables on a tortilla. But in my mind, Mexican food can be so versatile depending on the way its prepared, cooked and paired with outside ingredients. I feel like Via Delosantos understands this because they offer some very fun dishes and don’t fall into the boring category of Mexican food you can find anywhere.
After reading a lot of reviews on Yelp, I came across a common theme saying the green chile was something I had to try there. With that goal in mind, we walked in and went straight for the patio because it was a perfect, cool evening and seemed like a perfect opportunity to enjoy a margarita. Little did I know (I discovered this after we got the bill) that margaritas were only $2.99! Every day! That’s dirt cheap to me, having lived in Scottsdale most of my adult life where a margarita requires a $10 bill. And the better part is that Via Delosantos proudly boasts more than 150 different types of tequila (proven in some of the pictures), so off the bat they have earned a point from me.
Our waitress brought out some chips and salsa with two kinds to dip into: a mild but very good one I would describe as chunky yet smooth (does that even make sense?), and a spicy one with the consistency of crushed tomatoes. We immediately ordered a cheese crisp to start as we looked at the menu because one of our group came here regularly and knew what to order. She was no help however when it came to deciding on my dinner because it turned out she has always stuck with the same tested and proven item: the Chicken Enchilada.
I eventually decided on a combination plate, #5, that included a green chile tamale, cheese enchilada and bean tostada. Having followed Yelp’s advice on this one, I was eager to get to that green chile tamale. In the meantime, our cheese crisp came and it looked like any other cheese crisp (it’s cheese melted on a tortilla, how else could it look?) but it had a bit more depth to it than others. Spread some of that good mild salsa on it and you got one hell of a starter. To top it all off, my margarita came out at the same time and I was feeling better about skipping lunch that day. My friend Jeff decided to go with the Via Mexico, a platter of mini items like the mini shredded beef tacos, mini chimichangas and mini enchiladas. I think it even had 2 mini tamales. His direct quote once he started eating: “I keep finding food under other Mexcian food!”. Needless to say, I was a little jealous that he got to sample half the front page but he did wind up paying more than mine plus a margarita, so we were good.
My dish came out and I was so eager to try the tamale I didn’t let Jeff get a good picture of it before I had dug in. The tamale was excellent and I smiled up at Katie (the regular to the restaurant) while she nodded with approval. Worth the drive in my opinion. It was thicker than most tamales I’ve had and the corn wasn’t overcooked as sometimes happens with this dish. My fork would cut through the tamale easily, but the bite would hold its shape at the same time. The green chile was also as good as promised. The sauce had a thick consistency to it as if flour was added to it like a roux, but it was a perfect companion to the rest of the dish. The enchilada was also very good while the tostada wasn’t all that impressive, but overall I was happy with my choice.
The rest of the experience I would describe as relaxed. The patio was calm and we had Katie’s dog Dusty with us for his first Food Revu which he handled like a champ. The inside of the restaurant is dimly lit but comfortable until you see the tequila bar which shines like a neon beacon. You can tell they really are proud of their tequila selection. The bartender Eddie was laid back and answered a few questions for us before chatting with us about the football game on TV. Looking around you got the sense that this was a local’s hangout but could meet the expectations of first time visitors. I would definitely say that if you’re in the area and looking for a drink or some good Mexican, give them a visit.
Tip: Thursdays and Fridays bring a younger crowd at night with music played off the jukebox. Go these nights for a more lively dining experience.
9120 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85020