K-Rico Mexican Grill in Naples: all that and a bowl of crisps?
It is generally accepted that there are seven different types of Regional Mexican cuisine. Considering that Mexico is such a large country, it probably has more to do with the availability of local ingredients than the influence of local culture.
Tex Mex The cuisine is essentially a hybrid of Spanish and Mexican cuisine that dates back to when Spain occupied most of what is now Texas. There is another regional hybrid cuisine, Cal-Mex. It incorporates elements of typically lighter foods such as fish, lean meats, and more veggies into a mishmash of various regional Mexican cuisines.
The outdoor dining area is very pleasant. It is well shaded and offers a view of the Bay of Naples. Friends wanted to eat here because they were intrigued by the Menu. Me too; fodder for another blog post!
The first thing ordered was the trio of salsa and fries. One of my table mates ordered this because in their minds, the quality of the salsas served in a Mexican restaurant is a good omen of what is to come. It’s a bit the same as the quality of the sweet and sour soup in a Chinese restaurant.
The salsas served here were (left to right), salsa verde (made with tomatillo), pico de gallo (tomato / onion / cilantro) and a salsa rojo (made with red pepper). They were served with ancho pepper infused tortilla chips. Unfortunately, it all fell a bit flat. The tortilla chips, while enjoyable due to their pepper infusion, were as common as the salsas we were served.
A restaurant very often cannot be 100% in its offerings, so we decided to go deeper into the menu. A table companion also ordered the caldo tlalpeño soup. It is a very traditional Mexican soup. At K-Rico, it’s made with chicken, carrots, chickpeas, chayote, garlic, onion, tomatoes, seasoned with chipotle peppers and topped with cotija cheese and jalapeño cornbread croutons. It was really good, but a word to the wise. Not for those who oppose cumin.
I ordered the sandia ceviche, or watermelon ceviche. The ceviche, loaded with shrimp and grouper, was excellent. In true Cal-Mex style, fresh citrus juices, watermelon, mango, jalapeño, pineapple, radish, red onion, jicama, and passion fruit habanero-ginger sauce have been added to the mix.
Instead of tortilla chips, the ceviche was served with tostones or twice fried slices of plantains. The tostones were good, tough to be sure. The problem was, they were too thick and too few to accommodate all of the wonderful ceviche served here. It didn’t matter, I was happy to eat my way through this excellent dish with a spoon.
One of my table mates ordered the El Chapparal pork. Chapparal literally means a thicket of brush and / or impenetrable trees. At K-Rico, it’s a conglomerate of comfort food made with starch and cheese. Pork served over yucca fries is topped with creamy queso sauce, green onions, and avocado-jalapeño cream. I tried a bit of this, and it was excellent despite the industrial strength. Be very hungry if you order this or be prepared to have some leftovers!
My other table mate ordered the pork and short rib tacos. If two tacos are ordered from the menu, you receive a side dish of black beans and mexicali rice. The pork taco served here consisted of slow roasted pork, purple cabbage, pineapple-mango salsa, tequila-pickled onion, cilantro, radish, jalapeño, and cotija.
The short rib taco was made with slow roasted boneless short ribs, pico de gallo, purple cabbage, spicy mezcal-chipotle plum barbecue sauce, radishes, jalapeño and cotija.
The accompaniments were black beans and mexicali rice. Black beans are about cal-mex cuisine, replacing refried beans seen in Tex-Mex cuisine. The last side of Mexicali rice was seasoned with chili powder and incorporated fresh corn kernels among other ingredients.
The tacos were good, non-traditional but loaded with flavor. I didn’t care about the sides. I don’t really like a corn / rice mix and the beans were just poor, but that’s just me.
I ended up ordering a chicken taco. It was served with beer-marinated smoked pulled chicken, shredded lettuce, guacamole, radish, jalapeño and more cotija cheese. It was good and the service generous.
The food at K-Rico Mexican isn’t traditional, following some tenants of Cal-Mex cuisine. If you are a Mexican food purist, don’t eat here, you won’t be happy. I found most of the food to be good. It’s populist for lack of a better word and will appeal to most. I was not aware of this before dining here, but some menu items are offered at a reduced price during their happy hour Menu, served from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily in the indoor bar area.
If you want to get your feet wet on K-Rico’s menu before you jump in, happy hour would be a great place to start. I plan to return to try other menu items.
This is an envelope for another article on Forks.
Mexican grill K-Rico
475 Bayfront Place
Naples, FL 34102
Open Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Happy hour at the bar from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.