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DINING REVIEW: Jorge's serves traditional cuisine - simple and fresh
Restaurant Character: Jorge's is a lively family-run restaurant with great service and a nice selection of traditional Mexican-American dishes.
Rating total: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Food: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Ambiance: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Service: 4 out of 5 stars
Address: 2427 W. Colorado Ave.
Contact: (719)634-9031, www. jorges-sombrero.com
Hours: Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday - Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays
Alcohol: full bar
Credit cards: Yes
Vegetarian options: Yes
What's online as of Jan. 16, 2013:
- 79 percent of 182 voters "liked it" on Urban Spoon
- 3 out of 5 stars based on 15 reviews on Yelp
- Photos on Facebook; search Jorge's OCC
- No violations requiring follow-up were marked after July, 2012 inspection by the El Paso County Health Department
The night was cold, the hour was late and we were hungry. So we stepped into Jorge's Mexican Restaurant in Old Colorado City, not knowing what to expect.
I knew Jorge's had been closed for the better part of a year while undergoing a half-milllion dollar's worth of renovations. The decor is certainly inviting, with tall ceilings and warm, red/orange walls. Pastel accent walls and colorful serapes on the ceiling add to the festive feeling without going overboard. I'm hoping that the food is just as appealing as the decor.
And with the exception of some service issues during my first visit, I found traditional Mexican-American cuisine served simply, fresh and often with a lot of flavor.
It started a little bumpy, though.
It was a Thursday night and the restaurant was bustling. The young host said, "Three?" Then he walked away. No smile, no request to follow him. When we caught up in the adjacent dining room, we were seated in the middle of three of large, boisterous parties.
What had I led my dining companions into? We peered at our menus -- and I wish I was speaking metaphorically. The low level of the lighting tempted us to use the flashlight apps on our phones to read the menu. The waitress came by for our drink orders with an armload of dirty dishes, which she slung at the host after yelling at him. We asked her if we got chips and salsa, and she said, "Only by request." That translates into, "Yes, for $3.00."
Still, despite the large parties around us, our waitress kept our glasses filled, checked on us regularly and found time to crack a joke or two in passing.
These were the tortilla chips I dream of. Fresh, warm and fried on the premises, and with a thick, corny crunch you can't get from a bag. The smooth salsa, dotted with chile seeds, had a pronounced punch of heat that hits the back of your throat as you swallow. The first couple of bites were delicious, but by the fourth bite, all I could taste was the heat.
The menu offers a decent variety without attempting to be everything to everyone: burritos, tostadas, enchiladas, taco, fajitas, carnitas and a few shrimp dishes. The red chile was described twice simply as "like a mild enchilada sauce."
The green chile sauce, on the other hand, was delicious, about as thick as good gravy, with the predominant, heavenly flavor of roasted chiles accented with tiny bits of pork. Simple, basic and delicious, with no tomato (for those who eschew such heresy). Most of the entrees come with rice and beans. The beans are thick, bland and smooth, a comfortable companion to the spicy green chile. The rice strikes a nice balance -- fluffy and faintly tomatoey.
Most of the menu items offer the range you'd expect in a Mexican-American restaurant: pork, beef, beans or chicken. The Pork and Avocado Burrito ($6.75) was large, filled with tender pork and buttery, sliced avocado, and blanketed with hot green chile. The carnitas ($11.25) were extremely disappointing, tasting like slices of warmed up leftover pork roast with no discernible marinade or seasoning. The Shrimp Fajitas ($13.50), on the other hand, were outstanding. The plump shrimp were cooked perfectly, surrounded with sizzling onions and fresh tomato wedges (we'd asked for no bell pepper, and the kitchen obliged). The fajitas came with lettuce and tomato, shredded cheddar, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo and rice.
Of note are two of the garnishes. The guacamole tasted like it had been made moments before it arrived at the table. The seasoning was extremely simple, a hint of garlic and lime, allowing the smooth taste of the avocado to shine. The pico de gallo was similarly fresh. The small dice of the tomato and onion meant a very balanced flavor and less messy eating.
On a cold but sunny Saturday afternoon, I visited Jorge's again. The same host still seemed confused by his job, but the waiter was every bit as good as our first waitress had been.
The Chicken Tamales ($9 for two) were good, but not outstanding, although the mild green chile on top was excellent. The masa dough was a little bland, although the chicken was moist and delicious. The Enchiladas Tejanas ($9.50) come stacked instead of rolled, and topped with a fried egg. The melded layers of soft corn tortilla, moist chicken, enchilada sauce and cheese, covered in hot green chile sauce, make a dish I'd eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
But the best dish at the table was the Tacos de Carne Asada ($11.25). Diced, marinated steak, redolent with cumin and full of rich, beefy flavor, comes on small, fresh corn tortillas, and are simply topped with onion and cilantro. A simple dish, but with an attention to detail that shows someone in the kitchen knows their way around a taco.