THE CUISINE SCENE

Brenda

Hill


 


The Cuisine Scene
Brenda Hill





Las Fuentes Mexican Grill
Yucaipa, CA


When I moved to California five years ago, I saw all the neighborhood restaurants and thought I was in heaven. I tried most of them and also explored restaurants in Beaumont, Banning, Redlands, San Bernardino, and any other place I could find. And while I still love to discover new ones in different cities, I have my favorites right here in Yucaipa.

Las Fuentes has ranked high on my list since the first time I tried them several years ago. Everything, from the chips and salsa to the steak fajitas has always tasted fresh, and the guacamole is better than most. So when Roger and I had the opportunity to review their restaurant, we were delighted.

Located in the Von’s shopping center near Denny’s, Las Fuentes is an ideal place to gather for excellent food and reasonable prices. Owner Juan Carlos Orozco, who comes from a family of restaurateurs, opened the restaurant in 2002, offering a warm atmosphere with decorated walls, tiles, colorful banners, and strings of lights. And he’s created several eating areas, so his customers can choose from cushy booths, tables, the lighted bar, and an outside patio complete with a fountain and romantic lights. I learned that Las Fuentes means ‘The Fountains.’







Celene Rodriquez, who’ll assume the general manager title as soon as her baby is delivered, greeted Roger and me.


The Crew - Celene in pink

Gracious and accommodating, she seated us at a large booth and soon our table was filled with chips, their signature salsa, and guacamole. What a treat. I love their chips and salsa. Everything is made fresh each day, and their chips are crispy enough for that satisfying crunch, yet thick enough to hold the dips. While I knew the salsa was my favorite out of all the salsas I’ve tried, Roger was surprised at the delicious flavor.

He’s lived in California over twenty years and has traveled the world in his business, and he also enjoys trying new restaurants. Even he said the salsa was the best he’d tasted. Made with a fresh tomato base, it had a green oniony flavor mixed with regular onion, cilantro, enough chilies and/or spices to create some heat, but not too much that I couldn’t enjoy it. And the guacamole was as delicious as I remembered – fresh with no packaged additives, and no hint of browning or that ‘old’ flavor. We could’ve happily sat and munched on them all evening, but when Celene asked if we were ready to order, we didn’t resist.

Their menu is a large one – six oversized pages of offerings, including enchiladas, tostadas, ensaladas, y sopas, fajitas, burritos, chimichangas and the extras such as fish tacos, flautas, chili dishes, and taquitos. Most are served with refried beans and rice and the prices range from $7.99 to $23.99 for dinners for two.

I love their refried beans. After the chips, salsa, and guacamole, it was their beans that kept me coming back to the restaurant. Topped with just enough melted cheese to add to instead of overpowering the flavor, they always taste as if they’d just come out of the pot. Never have I found those burnt edges that seem common in many other restaurants. Celene said the cooks are very careful not to overcook them and lose the flavor. I’m not a big rice lover, except with Chinese food, but Roger liked his because of the light flavor and texture, not sticky and clumped together.

But the pièce de résistance for both of us was the main course. I’d ordered the steak fajitas for $14.99, and I could hear the sizzle when the server carried it through the restaurant to our booth. That sizzle, combined with the delicious aroma of grilled steak and onions was enough to make me clutch my knife and fork. And when it arrived, it was almost too pretty to eat, but I didn’t let that stop me.

Arranged on a hot, twelve-inch round platter, the strips of steak, grilled onions, and green peppers were tender, moist, and slightly smoke-flavored, all combined with a dash of teriyaki and their own spices. Tomato wedges and cilantro sprigs decorated the plate. As if that wasn’t enough for a meal, another plate accompanied the platter, a smaller plate filled with refried beans, rice, a helping of guacamole, a dab of salsa, and tortillas kept warm in foil.



I eyed Roger’s dish of Carne Asada for $13.99, which was an 8 oz grilled steak served with guacamole and pico del gallo, a tomatoey sauce that tasted like roasted peppers, accompanied with refried beans and rice. Like most men, he enjoyed his steak, but he couldn’t resist extra bites of the chips and salsa.

 

We were too full to try dessert, but Las Fuentes offers cheesecake, flan, ice cream, and other desserts for those who wish to end their meal with something sweet.

I’ll certainly return again, as it’s a warm, wonderful place to gather with family and friends and have a delicious, reasonable meal, all within our own city. New menus will soon include ribs and salmon.

They also offer a buffet on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a Sunday Champagne brunch.

And next time you see a movie at the Krikorian Theaters, stop in next door at the Las Fuentes in Redlands. They’ll be happy to see you.  

33562 Yucaipa Blvd
Yucaipa, CA 92399
(909) 790-6080
7 days a week