Cristina's Fine Mexican ~ North Richland Hills, Texas
RJG's primary page for Cristina's
Back on home soil again, let's cover off on the newest Cristina's location. We've already written about Cristina's before, primarily their Southlake and Trophy Club locations. As such, please follow the link above to read more about the chain, and their other locations.
The newest Cristina's has already hit the Top 10 of hottest restaurants in DFW according to Urbanspoon (Talk of the Town). And given that this is the chain's 12th location, that says something about the power of the Cristina's brand.
Cristina's did the smart thing here, and took over a fully loaded former Mexican restaurant, that had been recently redesigned. Therefore that limited the amount of decor overhaul that is normally required to reopen a restaurant. The former tenant, Anejo's House of Tequila, was an elegant place, with a superior bar that suits the moniker "house of tequila". We went once a couple of years ago, and while the drinks were solid, the food was lackluster. Still, the place seemed reasonably popular, so I was a bit surprised to see it closed. But not disappointed. When Cristina's stepped in, it looked to be a stroke of genius. And I think it is, given its early popularity. Though I have to wonder if they aren't starting to eat their young. Southlake isn't that far, and most certainly former patrons of that location will just head over to the NRH store for convenience.
So for this lunch visit, the RJG started appropriately enough with a frozen margarita. I'm on a roll here, as this was yet another excellent concoction, with a great flavor and the right smoothness. I went with the 10 ounce (instead of 20), and I was still pretty knocked out. Hooray. Mrs. RJG abstained from the sinful liquids, and started digging right into the chips. Their chips continue to be boring, and their table salsa (tomatoes, cilantro, and onions) is quite frankly dull as ditchwater. But they still have the heated habanero sauce if you ask for it, and it's absolutely delicious! It's not that spicy, and the flavor is miles better than their normal offering, so definitely ask for it. I went with the puffed tacos, which were just OK. The ground beef needed more seasoning, and while I appreciate the homemade crispy fried shells, the fact remains they aren't strong enough to hold the ingredients - and it collapses on the plate for a taco salad. As I read my former review of the rice and beans, it appears they aren't as special as they once were. The rice was slightly mushy. The beans were good, but nothing extraordinary. Mrs. RJG had a ground beef taco, that they placed in the beans, so that the shell would disintegrate quickly. Her verde chicken enchilada was cold and lifeless.
So there you have it. Final conclusion: Better than Anejo's, about par for Cristina's. Which is to say they are good, not great, middle of the road Mexican. Exactly, I think, what they are striving for. Appeal to the masses - which is good business honestly. Mrs. RJG has pretty much written off Cristina's, which means I'm resigned to going there if I'm craving a frozen margarita and a taco or two (they have upscale tacos that look pretty good actually). That translates into very few, if any, further visits. Oh well.
The current rating as I write this on Urbanspoon is 45%. But that's only based on 11 votes so far. This number will almost assuredly go up. Despite the rather harsh review, I continue to give them a thumbs up. But it's not exactly a ringing endorsement.