- 2743 86th St., Urbandale, IA, 50021
- Overall User Rating:
- (1 rating)
- 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Preliminary visit — not yet rated.
After the splurge of the holidays and with winter in full force, there’s something about inexpensive, filling food that seems right in line with the way we want to eat in January.
Yet, that doesn’t mean we have to settle for the same old burgers, burritos, spaghetti and pizzas all month long. While Isla Cozumel offers plenty of tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, et. al., I found some rewarding surprises off that beaten path.
Atmosphere: The restaurant opened Dec. 8 in the former Mama Lacona’s location. With faux-Tiffany lamps, maroon vinyl booths and stylized Roman pillars, there’s no mistaking that this used to be an Italian restaurant. Yet breezy murals of the Caribbean and a few straw-roof effects add some Island-esque cues. It’s a comfortable place to dine, especially if you snag a booth.
Menu: Dozens of Mexican favorites crowd the menu, including, of course, combo platters, which cost $6.99 at dinner. Of note are the steak options, priced $8.49 to $12.99, including rib-eyes and four different takes on 12-ounce T-bones. Preparations range from a simple grilled steak (carne asada) to the more elaborate Steak Tampiqueño, topped with mushrooms and spinach and filled with a cheese sauce.
Fish tacos, a good variety of shrimp dishes and seafood enchiladas help tap into the Caribbean theme of the restaurant.
A la carte options let you try something new while inexpensively adding on a taco, enchilada, chile relleno or another tried-and-true favorite.
Best Bites: The immensely satisfying El Maya rib-eye brought a thin but flavor-packed cut, cooked perfectly medium and topped with sparkling, crisp-tender sweet peppers and hot onions.
Even better was the Choripollo chicken — diced chicken breast sautéed with spicy crumbled chorizo and served with just enough of a cheese sauce to give it sheen and richness. Moist rice, chunky guacamole and a zippy pico de gallo completed the phenomenally good plate — a great value at $9.29.
Also of Note: The flat, lightly breaded, cheese-stuffed chile relleno arrived topped with a rather tame brick-red tomato-based sauce. We appreciated the El Maya rib-eye came with a cheese enchilada on the side — it hardly seems right to go to this kind of Mexican restaurant without something irresistibly oozing with cheese.
Margaritas are standard — refreshing in that sweet-tart-citrusy way, but lacking in the virility that a more notable swirl of tequila might bring.
Bottom Line: A solid spot for an under-$30 dinner for two.