Nuevo Mexican. | Rock Candy

Nuevo Mexican.

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I’ve been watching with interest the installation of the new restaurant in the old Kettle location at Fair Park and I-630. Watching with a lot of hope. This used to be where we would send out for food very late at night when I was still working the overnight shift -- that is, until a 1am kitchen fire ended The Kettle’s long run at that location.

It’s sat vacant for years, but now Riviera Maya has opened in the building. No worries… the place has received extensive renovation. It’s just opened, so it still has fresh, uncrinkly menus and a relatively fresh wait staff. How’s the food? I’ll tell ya, on the jump.

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Had the Pollo a la Riviera ($8.75), described as “grilled chicken and shrimp sautéed with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, topped with cheese sauce. Served with Guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo.” The shrimp was bountiful… lots of largish shrimp, well seasoned, not overcooked. The chicken was pounded flat and pretty decent. It took me a few minutes before it occurred to me that there was no cheese sauce on the dish -- but a waiter quickly remedied the situation and brought out the cheese sauce separately.

I kinda preferred the cheese sauce on the side, to tell you the truth.

The white cheese dip is average, as is the salsa, but the portions are large. I’d say Riviera Maya is somewhat better than average, but then again it’s just been open a few days. I just hope it lives up to the mantra posted below the large glowing letters out front: “Discover Real Mexican Food.” I’ll make a return trip soon to try more… and to check out those fabulous looking margaritas that went over to the next table.

I don’t know whether it’s part of a chain or not… if not, wow, those are some glossy menus and heavy branding for a brand new place. The restaurant is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. (501) 663-4800.

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