Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Celayense, tal vez, pero no la mia

Mi Celayence
2903 Fredricksburg
(between Hildebrand and Olmos Drive)

Of all the untried Mexican restaurants in the Hildebrand Corridor, probably none interested me more than Mi Celayence. Celaya is a large industrial city in the southern part of the state of Guanajuato; it is also the family home of a very good friend of mine, and so a place I've visited on occasion. And frankly, my memories of Guanajuato are so gilded that any association with that place, however tenuous, causes a little hiccup in my normally profound equilibrium. 

But as a restaurant, Mi Celayence is nothing special, despite my wishing to make it seem so. The food is perfectly good, even slightly better than average. Our choices on this visit were what have become our generic standards: machacado and chilaquile tacos on corn tortillas, beef fajita and picadillo tacos on flour. While the seasoning and preparation were just competent, the difference lies in the quality of ingredients used. The fajitas were, in particular, a slightly better cut of meat than is strictly necessary for the dish, and that, plus the relatively large chunks of well-cooked potato in the picadillo, was just enough to raise the food in our esteem about half a chili-pepper's worth in the ratings. The service was reasonably good, though the three waitresses working the room at the time of our visit seemed unable to cope completely with some recently-departed rush: there were a number of uncleared tables when we arrived, and as many when we left, though the place wasn't remarkably busy in the interim.
Last city inspection: November 2011
19 demerits

Those tables were one aspect of the ambience that left something to be desired. Another was the number of flies buzzing around, and while I accept that, in a corner booth with windows on two sides, any flies in the place would be in that part of the place, I still found it unpleasant, and something made me think that the management didn't really care about such things. Also, the air conditioner was barely adequate to compensate for the unusual warm humid conditions prevailing on the day, which detracted from the pleasure a diner hopes to find in even the humblest restaurant. 

One other characteristic of this restaurant deserves mention, and that is the thoroughly mejicano feel of the place. It's not just the food, the décor, the colours, the Spanish heard on all sides. It's also the well-behaved little children in the place and the itinerant vendors offering sweets and trinkets. Most Mexican restaurants seem to try hard to be American, or at least Mexican-American; it was refreshing to find one that is utterly and unapologetically content to be Mexican.
Mi Celayence Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. AnonymousMay 09, 2012

    So, the food is above average. The place has a distinctive Mexicano vibe. The meat is a better cut than other places. Quality ingredients but you have to b---h and moan anyway. I have studied in Mexico with Kennedy, Bayless, and others and while Mi Celayence is much more about mass producing reasonably good Mexican food, I think the quality and quantity FOR THE PRICE cannot be beat. We have urged them to raise their prices so they can stay in business. In the meantime, if this indicative of your reviews, it is thankfully my last time on your site.

    1. I wonder what "b---hing and moaning" you object to? The flies? The un-bussed tables?

      Look around, Anonymous: similar or better quality and quantity at comparable prices are all over that part of town.

  2. ,"Similar or better quality", is just NOT found anywhere else perhaps in all of San Antonio as Mi Celayense DELIGHTS in so many ways! Starting with their Cheese Chili Rellenos which are delicacies that are oh-so-elusive to try to find Made with real Mexican cheeses this dish excells with flavors and freshness with just the right touch of picante. Want more Pico? Their Green chili hot sauce is too hot for me but their red sauce is truly wonderful. You should see the central table in the kitchen as they prepare what looks like hundreds of tomatoes for broiling as they make the daily chili sauce. This homey restaurant has become my almost daily lunch spot and I am trying to prevail on Dona Marta, the owner and her husband, the chief cook, to remain open for dinner but I admit with a bit of trepidation as I don't want one single thing to change here as I have found the best answer to that nagging hungry feeling I get daily around noon. Yes, despite the occasional fly as the door opens often to let in what is generlly a full house but never have I seen a line I am constantly amazed at the friendliness of the waitresses and beautiful smile and graciousness of Mar's loving bounty and at a price that I can actually afford daily...wow!..Talk about habit forming!

    1. Well obviously you feel very strongly about the place, having twice written to laud it in such detail. The glow of such affection, however, clouds my own objectivity, and so I don't review restaurants operated by people I care about. I don't know you, of course, but I would suspect that you, too, are less than completely objective as a result of your great interest in the place and its people. Enjoy it, by all means; but don't expect to run into me having a meal there.


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