Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mexican Burgers at Jalapeno's...huh?

Jalapeno Burger and Fries from Jalapeno's, Murdock & Waco
Today I tried Jalapeno's, the reincarnated restaurant, formerly known as Pimiento's, which is located on the SE Corner of Murdock in Wichita.  I read that the new owner was planning to keep much of the old Pimiento menu in tact, but is adding huge burgers served Mexican style. I heard HUGE BURGER, and had to try it.

Upon entering the place, I noticed the lights were all turned off...including the area behind the counter. It was just a weird entrance. But the funny thing was there were several tables of people and they were all acting like it was no big deal.  And it wasn't. But it was certainly weird...at first.

I proceeded to study the menu, and asked several questions of the young lady at the counter.  She was not very helpful, as her English was relatively broken. At one point, she walked away and the owner helped me with a few options.  I made up my mind that I was going to order a burger, and save the tacos for another time.  Pimiento had very good authentic street-style tacos.  But it was burger time.  I didn't know what most of the burgers were served with, as there were no descriptions (Off-put #1). This made it difficult to decide, so in the essence of time, I order the restaurant's namesake burger, Jalapeno ($7.00).  It was simply described to me by the owner as having grilled jalapenos and bacon, served with fries.

On a side note, I ordered a water to drink and noticed my bill didn't add up. When I questioned the extra dollar charge on my ticket, the cashier told me the restaurant charges $1 for water.  When I asked if I could just have the small drink ($1 as well on menu) she said that they only have large drinks and they are $1.75.  This was off-put #2.  #3 off-put was no soap in the bathroom...not a pleasing thought of no hand soap for employees and guests to use.  But I brushed this aside, and awaited patiently for my burger.

I was pleased to find out that my order came with basket of chips with salsa.  The chips were warm, and extra salty. And the salsa is like a mild picante salsa, and had a simple flavor that was pleasing. Not overly tomato'ee, and nicely balanced with the vegetables.  It had a good amount of acidity, but overall, with the over-salted chips, this was not the purpose for going to Jalapenos.  In fact, the chips and salsa were not really any benefit to my burger meal.

The burger arrived tightly wrapped in a white wrapper like a tuxedo.  It was as if I was about to eat the messiest burger. The wrapper was a convenient way to grab it, but I quickly realized it wasn't necessary to eat the large sandwich.  The bun was huge, sporting a dark color and sesame seeds on top.  It was thick and bready, just like the bread you get at the Mexican bakeries (which I'm sure it's where they come from).  The thinly, smashed burger came topped with melted white cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, grilled jalapeno halves, avocado and bacon.  The bacon was not ordinary bacon you fry up or properly cook in the oven. It was gray in color, flimsy and not prepared in any way I would have wished...I like it a little crispy. It had a nice smokey flavor, but it's texture really didn't have it going for me.  It was simply off-putting (#4).

The actual beef patty was a little under seasoned, and lacked the grill or flattop flavor I really enjoy.  I like the thin burgers to be crispy on the edges, but the meat still be tender-like it was hand formed. This burger was a little bland and overworked. It appears that it may have been a institutionally-formed burger patty. Boo!

The whole sandwich lacked powerful flavors (except the jalapeno heat). The jalapenos were super hot, which I liked, and which it needed.  They were grilled until tender, and they sort of heat-stained the entire sandwich. The other toppings were plentiful and filled the space between the huge buns. After all, the thin burger patty was not that impressive in size...there needed to be something the to bring up the value.  The avocados were soft, but not overly flavorful. The raw onion and lettuce gave the burger good texture, and the bacon added smokiness that cut through the rest of the ingredients.  The sight of this burger really got me excited, but the actual experience left me less than impressed.

The burger came with french fries, which were not homemade. They were insignificant and a let down! Fries are a staple side item with burgers. The least thing a restaurant can do is fry their own. They're cheaper, better food cost and the TASTE BETTER when done right.  The good "fry" restaurants in town know who they are and how to do it. I rest my case.

To sum up my first experience at Jalapeno's, I have to say that it was certainly a unique culinary experience because I have not seen other Mexican restaurants specializing in burgers.  However, I just wasn't very satisfied with my meal.  The overall experience was a little underwhelming.  I may still give it a try to check on their tacos. If Jalapeno's kept the same recipes and prepare tacos the same was as the former Pimiento, then it's worth the trip back.

I give this meal 1 out of 4 "Eat-Eats".

738 N. Waco
Wichita, KS
Hours: 11am to 9pm daily

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