BG Eats: A chip off the old block

Puerco en salsa verde at Garcia’s Grill at 1689 Campbell Lane. Bria Granville/HERALD

John Greer

Notwithstanding their authenticity, Mexican restaurants are a staple of Bowling Green. This is the first in a recurring series of Mexican restaurant reviews that aim to provide a definitive answer to an essential question. What’s the best Mexican place in town?

Garcia’s Grill is a satisfying entry in Bowling Green’s Mexican food scene.

The interior of Garcia’s barely resembles the stereotypical over-the-top Mexican scenery of similar restaurants. Instead, it opts for a more subtle, intimate feel. The Latin American music playing softly in the background conveys the only obvious Hispanic influence.

As with any typical Mexican restaurant in America, the eating begins with unlimited chips and salsa. The tortilla chips stick to this typical narrative. Crunchy, salty and warm, the chips are an adequate vessel for the tomato-based sauce.

The salsa looks unassuming, but it exceeds expectations. Generous chunks of fresh tomato float in a sauce infused with fresh onion and cilantro. The result is a complex mixture that is spicy, acidic and fragrant. 

Unfortunately, sometimes the chunks are too generous. Some bites are only fresh tomato. The salsa lacks another element that could really pair off the freshness of the ingredients. Adding some roasted tomatoes or charred peppers, for example, would contribute a smokier component and greater depth of flavor.

The Puerco en Salsa Verde was similarly satisfying. Slow roasted charred pork doused with a sharp green tomatillo sauce sits next to a bed of rice and black beans topped with cheese and pico de gallo. Warm flour tortillas complete the meal. Above all, the dish is well balanced. The brightness of the tomatillo sauce really enhances the flavor of the pork and the sides provide substance.

Despite the flavor, bites do become monotonous. The texture is overwhelmingly soft. It is begging for any sort of crunchy element to break the homogeneity. The liquid in the salsa verde and black beans leave a soupiness that makes the last few bites less appetizing than the first.

For those looking for a filling meal, Garcia’s delivers. The flavor just needs to be intensified.