Halfway through my dinner companion’s meal at Fondita Mexican Grill in Ottawa, she said she could still feel the heat wafting from the molcajete vessel.
A molcajete we learned – from a quick Google search at our dinner table – is a large mortar and pestle made from volcanic stone used to prepare Mexican food. I’ve had salsas served in a molcajete before, but never realized its significance.
At Fondita Mexican Grill, the first specialty item on the menu is named “molcajete” for the vessel it is served in. The dish features steak, chicken and shrimp grilled with peppers, onions and tomatoes, and topped with Monterey Jack cheese and special red sauce. Lettuce, guacamole, rice, beans, sour cream and pico de gallo are served on the side.
The molcajete ($19.99) arrived with a pig’s face chiseled on the side of it. The food contained inside was the perfect combination of flavors, and showcased sizable shrimp paired with the steak and chicken. It was one of the highlights of our meal.
Another standout was the bola dip ($5.99).
Served as an appetizer, the bola dip has shredded chicken, ground beef, cheese dip, red sauce, pico de gallo and beans. My dinner companion and I took turns dipping chips and taking spoonfuls of the savory bola.
While she had her hands full with the molcajete, I was in heaven with carnitas. The carnitas ($15.99) are pork tenderloins simmered in beer with jalapeños, and served with avocado slices and plenty of onions, as well as rice, beans and a tossed salad.
I filled flour tortillas with the flavorful and tender carnitas, complemented by onions and pico de gallo.
As a side dish, I also ordered a steak burrito ($5.99) with red sauce.
Fondita Mexican Grill has an expansive menu with a number of specialties, tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, quesadillas, chimichangas, burritos, chicken, steak and seafood items, as well as vegetarian combinations. There’s also a bar, with an array of margaritas available.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee of Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Fondita Mexican Grill
WHERE: 351 W. Stevenson Road, Ottawa