Everyone has their go-to Mexican restaurant. As is the case with coffee shops, bars and TV shows, you’ll be hard-pressed to convert true regulars once they’ve settled into their comfortable routine.

But against all odds, after hearing from friend after friend about Abel’s Mexican Restaurant, I discovered it was well worth the trip out of my comfort zone. It managed to be both a solid representation of what you’d expect from Mexican cuisine, as well as surprisingly original.

Located in Warr Acres with a second location on S. May Avenue, Abel’s has atmosphere and service typical of casual Mexican dining. Brightly colored murals of Mexican village scenes adorn the walls.

food, however, surpassed my expectations and out-shined the decor.
Every classic Tex-Mex dish is served, from enchiladas to fajitas,
tamales and even Warr Acres nachos.

course, the meal begins with the obligatory chips, salsa and queso, but
the flavor of all three is a cut above the usual. Abel’s chips and
tortillas struck me as especially hot and fresh, retaining a strong corn

The entrées
are rich and filling; in particular the tamales ($6.29), which have a
thick, cake-like wrapper of masa drizzled in a sweet chili sauce.

carnivores like me, there are several high-protein dishes like the
Ramos Plate ($11.99), a generous, meaty helping of beef, chicken and
shrimp marinated in Abel’s special salsa. Sour cream and guacamole serve
as a refreshing counter to the spiciness, and most dishes come with
well-seasoned rice and beans with just a hint of cinnamon.

all may strike you as a successful take on typical Tex-Mex fare, but
that’s only the beginning. For the more adventurous diner on the go,
Abel’s is also a taqueria with a separate menu for authentic street

Take the tacos
al pastor ($1.85), a tasty pocketful of spiced pork, cilantro and, as an
added kick to the palate, pineapple. There are also several
fruitinfused flavors of the classic summer drink agua fresca ($1.99), as
well as spicy beer ($3.50) for the grown-ups.

Another of Abel’s
specialties, horchata ($1.99), is a refreshing, creamy rice and cinnamon
drink. But your meal is not complete until you’ve finished it with a
heaping carton of freshly sliced fruit ($3.50).

impossible to miss the fresh coconut, papaya and mango beckoning from a
cooler as soon as you step inside, but this healthy dessert is elevated
to gourmet heights if you get it garnished with lime juice and chili
powder. Horchata may be called the “drink of the gods,” but Abel’s
exoticfruit presentation is nothing short of divine.

is a great value and clearly focused on the quality of its food, but
its traditional street cuisine lends to a unique authenticity that
doesn’t come from most Americanized Mexican restaurants. Although it
fits comfortably into the Tex-Mex formula, it is at the same time
original enough to keep you coming back.

if some friends are nagging you about trying a new restaurant, trust
them. In the case of Abel’s, they couldn’t be more right.

you’re already among its ardent followers or your heart lies with
another local Mexican spot, Abel’s is worth seeking out, as you’ll be
sure to experience something new each time.

It just might make a regular out of you.

Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.

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