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.
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.