There is a little corner of the Southwest tucked away in Fairfax, Virginia that is worth discovering. I’m talking about Coyote Grille & Cantina, hidden away at the far end of the Main Street Marketplace (10266 Main Street). It’s like a breath of fresh air when compared to the tired old overpriced chain restaurants that folks normally flock to when seeking Mexican food.
Coyote Grille & Cantina is a rather small place, but outdoor seating helps its capacity. The ambience is very down-to-earth and distinctive, and relaxed. The menu is large and diverse, with excellent salads, fajitas, all the standard Mexican favorites, and a terrific queso. The food is fresh and delicious. My personal favorite is the Sedona Seafood Salad: Marinated grilled shrimp, fresh lump crabmeat tossed with mango, pineapple, tomatoes, mixed greens and pumpkin seeds in a cilantro-honey lime dressing. Perfect summer dish! Also worthwhile for salad fans are the Cowboy Salad (skirt stake, portobello mushrooms, chicken and black beans), and the gigantic Tucson Taco Salad.
If you’re heading to the Cantina for lunch, there is a wide selection of burgers, wraps, tacos and burritos. The service is fast and efficient, so no problem getting in and out during your lunch break.
For dinner, there are large portions, so make sure you come hungry. Everyone gets chips and salsa to start with, and they are far better than what the average chain restaurant serves up. If you want to go all out, I suggest the Steak and Shrimp Tostada: crispy corn tortilla layered between grilled steak, shrimp, sauteed onions, and peppers, covered with ranchera sauce and melted cheeses. Not for the health-conscious, but boy is it good! The Chicken Diabla is superb as well, and check out the Ribeye de Encebollado: Marinated ribeye in a jalepeno tequila queso fresco sauce, topped with sautéed peppers and onions over green rice. Nice! They also make allowances for those on a diet, with several lighter options and low-carb tortillas available.
Dessert is also on the menu, and of course fried ice cream is featured. Try the amazing freshly made Key Lime Pie, or the terrific sopapillas – you can’t really go wrong with any of the desserts.
If you’re looking for a place to kick back with friends for some beer and margaritas, and some great food to munch on, you couldn’t ask for a better place. Coyote Grille & Cantina has a full bar in the back, and a great wine selection.
Also recommended is their extensive Sunday brunch, with a wide variety of breakfast dishes served. They also have special events, and ask your server about the deal they have on Monday nights: entrée, dessert and a bottle of wine for a special price.
Coyote Grille & Cantina is the best of all worlds when it comes to Southwestern cuisine. Fresh and creative food, great service, nice location and atmosphere, and prices that won’t break the budget. Next time you’re in the mood for Mexican, steer clear of the big chain restaurants and give Coyote Grille & Cantina a try. You’ll keep coming back.
For more information, including an online menu and directions, check out their Web site: www.coyotegrille.com.
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