Today I went to Jalisco Fresh Grill for lunch. This local Mexican chain has a few locations in Roseville (note that Plaza Jalisco is not related), on Sierra Collage at East Roseville Parkway, on Fairway and finally on Foothills – which is where I went. I was craving carnitas after my attempt to order the carnitas mac & cheese last night at Boneshakers in Rocklin was thwarted as they were out of pork. I arrived at about 11AM or slightly after. When you first walk in the doors you are looking at some tables, the soda fountains and the chips/salsa counter. Only once you walk around the corner to the right do you see the menu, register and kitchen, along with more seating. If you walk even further past all this you’ll make another left to the back of the restaurant where there is yet more tables and finally the restrooms. TVs in each corner were showing soccer and Mexican music was playing.
I honestly didn’t go over the menu very thoroughly since I knew I was going to get the carnitas plate. I did take a look at the beverage options though. In addition to the soda fountains they also have some bottled sodas, beers and a few self serve drinks to the side including horchata. After paying, I took my number to a table and headed back up front to fill my cup with ice and horchata. I wasn’t really in the mood for chips, but the salsa bar looked clean and well maintained. In the short time it took me to fill my cup and grab some napkins and utensils my order was already being brought out. I led the runner back to my table and sat down. This was the fastest I think I’ve ever been served at a taqueria-type place. Usually it takes up to 10 minutes, where this was maybe 2, max.
The plate was pretty typical, carnitas, beans, rice and lettuce. There was no sour cream or guacamole included, which was a little disappointing. The corn tortillas were in a little dish with a lid to keep the heat in. The beans, while pretty good, were a bit thin. I thought the rice was decent, it was fluffy and tender. The carnitas was hit and miss. Some bites were very juicy and tender while also crispy on the edges. Others were a bit dry and bland. When it first arrived everything seemed to be fairly warm, though not enough to be steaming. I feel like they must have used a colder plate because everything cooled down pretty quickly. I found that it was critical to get bites of a little bit of everything at once, either wrapped in a tortilla or on a fork, in order to enjoy it most. The thinner, borderline runny beans helped out with dryer pieces of pork.
Overall I was a little underwhelmed with Jalisco Fresh Grill. I think I’d say that the temperature played a fairly significant part in this, but the other little things certainly contributed. A little sour cream would have really helped out with some of those less juicy bites of pork. The staff seemed pretty friendly and would smile as they passed by my table. Since leaving I’ve been wondering if this was just an off experience, because the food seemed like it could have been very good. The speed at which it was served leads me to believe it was mostly pre-prepped and just plated when ordered. Whatever the other Mexican restaurants/taquerias are doing with that extra 8 minutes seems to make a difference. As much as I’d like to come back and find out if they can do better, with as many excellent Mexican options we have in Roseville, I think those chances are slim.