21 September 2008
When I was about 10 years old, my parents took our family on the standard issue family vacation to Disney World. We hit all the tourist biggies: The magical kingdom, Epcot, Cocoa Beach, and hours and hours in line waiting to ride space mountain. The thing that I remember most (other than my little brother having to wear a plastic bag filled with ice duct taped to his hand for half the trip because he got stung by a jellyfish at the beach) was the kind of surreal quality to the place, how it tried very hard to boil down elements from the real world like Main Street and the countries of the world, add some plastic and plain vanilla, and present them as attractions. And it isn't necessarily a terrible thing. Disney's Main Street is cleaner than yours, and you can go to the China Pavilion without having to wear a mask and get run over by a bike. It's also devoid of character, charm and really anything that would get a person really excited.
Real de Minas is like that. I have been there and to its sister restaurant, the uniquely named Real de Minas II, on several occasions, and have left each time wondering why I wasted my time. It serves 'Mexican' food (and perhaps should change its name from Real de Minas to 'Mexican Food') - your standard medley of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and green chiles. All of it is OK, and you get just about what you expect... Mexican food. Every plate comes covered in cheese and served with a blob of refried beans and some lettuce and tomato kibble. The burrito I had looked much like the enchilada ordered by a friend of mine. The salsa was fine. The Carnitas plate was average at best - dried out chunks of pork in green chile. On one visit I ordered the Pollo Poblano - 'tender chicken strips cooked in an authentic Mexican sour cream, poblano pepper and corn, and served over rice'. It takes quite a lot for me to not clean my plate when eating out, but the Pollo Poblano I just could not fight through.
I would recommend Real de Minas if you are looking for an average Mexican food experience, assuming you don't mind blowing your bucks on that sort of outing. Perhaps you could spice things up a bit with a little fantasy, Disney style: pretend you've just flown in to Florida, can feel the salt air blowing through your hair (I realize Orlando is 60 miles from the ocean, but we're spicing things up here), and the sounds and smells of the Epcot Center Mexican Pavilion are just up around the corner next to the Japan Pavilion and the German Biergarten.
Real de Minas is located at 11101 East Colfax in Aurora. Real de Minas II is located only a couple blocks away at 3341 Peoria. Check out their website at realdeminasrest.com.
Their oddball Mexican creamed corn dish is a ripoff at $8.99.