Restaurant Review: Miguels on Main

by Gray Cargill on October 29, 2010

Miguels on Main

Have you heard the quote that goes something like this? "People will forget what you said, and they will forget what you did, but they will never forget the way you made them feel." My experience at Miguels on Main in Burlington is a bit like that. I ate here about a month ago with two friends. Naturally, my attention was mostly focused on our conversation, so I didn't take notes at the restaurant (as I do when I dine alone), and I also neglected to write down notes when I got home. When I finally sat down to write this review, I was perturbed by how few of the details of my time there I could remember.What I do remember about Miguels was how I felt about it: I loved it. The food, service and drinks were all excellent, and I walked out of there with the knowledge that I will definitely return, with or without friends.I'm going on record right now as saying Miguels is the best Mexican in Chittenden County. Granted, it's not like Vermont is a hotbed of Mexican cuisine. I've had enjoyable meals at the other places around town (notably Madera's, across the street), but the quality can be hit or miss and those who know more about it than I do often criticize our Mexican restaurants as not being "authentic". In that regard, I'm not sure Miguels is any different. But insofar as quality, I thought it was head and shoulders above the rest. Hurricane

What did I like about it? I like the cozy little bar in the front of the restaurant–perfect for solo diners who want to be social.  I like the decor – upscale Mexican, tastefully done. There are plenty of two-top tables.  I like the outdoor patio dining, though it was too cold for us to dine there that night.  It would be fabulous in the summer.  I like the menu–a mix of traditional Mexican dishes with some more creative offerings.  I like that the general manager was ever-present in the dining room all night long, keeping an eye on things and making sure everything met customers’ expectations.  The drinks were fabulous.  I had a hurricane and my two friends had margaritas.  We were all very happy with our drinks.  But, to save the best for last, the real draw here is the food.

The starter chips and salsa were good, though I didn’t find them to be exceptional. My friend Gretchen ordered the 1 cheese, 1 chicken enchilada meal and declared it good. She and my other friend, Colleen, both raved about the whole pinto beans that came on the side of their dishes.  Colleen had the veggie enchilada, which was a blend of swiss chard, portobello mushroom and cheese, topped with sour cream. I tasted it, and it was very good.

Beef Carnitas

Beef Carnitas

I ordered one of the nightly specials, the beef carnitas. It wasn’t at all what I expected.  First off, it was beef instead of pork.  On the surface, it really looks like a typical New England dish of beef, garlic mashed potatoes, and veggies.  (Not surprising, since the restaurant does try to use as many Vermont products as possible.)  It came topped with an artistic little nest of slivered sweet potatoes, very crispy.  This, for me, was the winner of the evening. It was the best beef dish I’ve had in a very long time.  What made it Mexican?  It had a chipolte sauce that gave it a nice kick.  Yeah, I know, it’s kind of a stretch to call it Mexican, but it was outstanding.  I pretty much inhaled it all. The three of us split a dessert, the name and content of which escapes me, but it came in a crispy tortilla shell and was pretty good. I thought the prices were fine for the quality and amount of food provided.

What didn’t I like about it? The restaurant got very dark once the sun went down.  There is not enough adequate lighting there. We all noticed the difference when we went to read the dessert menu and found it difficult to do so.  So bring a pocket flashlight with you, just in case. That’s a minor quibble, though. On the whole, I love this place.

Miguels is located in what I consider to be a rather “cursed” spot in town – the corner of Main and Battery Streets.  Many a restaurant has come and gone in that location. I’m not sure why they don’t last, but I certainly hope Miguels is the restaurant that breaks that pattern.  If you’re in Burlington and you’re craving creative Mexican, you won’t find better than at Miguel’s.  If you’re craving “authentic” Mexican. . .go to Mexico.

Charlie January 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Started going to Miguel’s regularly since the summer… excellent margaritas, chips and salsa are great…. love there chimichangas.

Gray Cargill October 5, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Thank you, Joshua! Glad to hear it!

Joshua Works October 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Just to update this post, they do have a website now, including full menu: http://miguelsonmain.com

Sabina October 31, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I never heard that quote before. Those are definitely words to remember. Do you have any idea whose quote that is?

SoloFriendly October 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm

No clue. If I knew, I’d have credited him or her. I see the phrase often used, but I’ve never seen it credited to anyone.

Lara Dickson October 29, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Hard to believe they don’t have a website. No excuse in this day and age. Glad the food is good, though. I’ve been wondering since I live so close – just haven’t ventured donw the hill. Thanks for reviewing – be sure to post on Yelp and Seven Days

SoloFriendly October 29, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Oh, good point, thanks for the reminder! And I do encourage you to give it a try.

Katrina October 29, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Hmmm…I have to say that I’m surprised. We went for my daughter’s last night out before university and were really disappointed in the food. Maybe my standards are too high b/c I’m from California & accustomed to real Mexican? 😉

SoloFriendly October 29, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Oh, you know how these things are, Katrina. I might have been there on an exceptionally good night, or you on an exceptionally bad one. I heard they added a second chef to the kitchen, that might have made a difference? Or indeed, it might be due to your greater exposure to authentic Mexican. Do you think there’s a place in Burlington with better Mexican? Because I haven’t found one I’ve been consistently happy with. Would love to hear what your experience has been here.

zablon mukuba October 29, 2010 at 7:50 am

it seems like you had a good time, the next time i am there at Miguels’ i will order the same meal you ordered

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