Nuevo Mod Mex
 Akron, Ohio        Date of Visit  04/16/14 

We are out with El Diablo. He’s mostly a nice guy but when we go out together we order entirely too much and I wobble outside and then have trouble focusing on the drive home. For the sake of transparency, I once had a hand in a group of people paying him to eat a plate full of sticks of butter. He might be trying to pay me back one dinner at a time. He had found a place that just opened in downtown Akron which we think is associated with Momocho and Jack Flaps in Cleveland. That’s a clear green light.



Completely Forgot We Put The Hot Sauce Behind Us For Room On The Table

The space is neat, small and modern, I guess that would go with the name. Our server was well versed in the menu and had enough energy to make someone in the middle of a meth binge feel weary by comparison. As far as ambiance, it’s put together well, save a single detail.

The music channel playing in the background was a surprisingly distracting mélange of every known style of music except for one, Mexican. They would go from buscador de oro by “El Kanye Westo” to Volare by that famous Mexican troubadour “Diego Martinez”. It was distracting like sitting next to the door on a winter day. Every time a new song would start we would all be jarred from our meals or conversation to wonder what in the world what was playing now. I thought it was just me at first, but we all keyed into it. A song by Los Lobos magically appeared at a single point in the evening and I almost expected a manager to come to the table to apologize. It seems like a bit much, it could be, but if you are a musicphile it is hard to miss.


We started with a wide assortment of everything…three salsas…three guacamoles…and three flights of margaritas (make that nine glasses all together). There are only three salsas to choose from in the trio so we had the house, the caliente and the verde. The house was a thin and chunky mix with strong tomato, cilantro and other flavors. The spicy caliente didn’t bring the sort of heat that would make you regret trying it, but there was a very dusky undercurrent of some type of pepper that seemed to suppress everything else, it was my least favorite. The green salsa verde was screaming with tomatillo and lime juice. When we ran out of chips originally, I considered just sipping it from the bowl until we were quickly delivered more chips. Great balance of bright and strong flavors.


Blue Corn Chips With

Loads Of Options

The Salsa Verde Is Incredible

As Were The Guac Mixes I Was Sure I Would Despise

The three guacamoles we tried were their classic, an almond, goat cheese and cinnamon, and a habanero jelly. They also have a corn, blackbean and poblano option but the other two had peaked my interest. The classic is good. I was interested in the other two because I didn’t expect to like them at all. Almond and goat cheese, sure…but cinnamon in guacamole? It works. Well. Lightly bitter nuts, tangy chevre and the fall spice churned together are delicious. The habanero jelly. I wasn’t worried about the heat. I was worried about the sweet. The pepper jellies I have had in the South carry some spice but are seriously sweet overall. I hated the idea of a sweet guac, but stirred into the green goo, it turned out to be a match for the other strange cinnamon combo. Well thought out, well executed and unique.

The Margaritas are made with El Jiminez 100% agave Reposado tequila, citrus syrup they make in house and fresh fruit puree. The flavors available this night were apricot ginger, cranberry orange peel, cucumber, spicy mango/mango, pomegranate, strawberry and jalapeno cilantro. Once you have a flavor you can then choose what you want on the rim. Sea salt, smoked salt, chili, sugar, sugar/salt together, salt and pepper or peppered bacon, whatever your heart desires. Essentially, we tried them all; the pictures are evidence. Did I mention we were dining with el Diablo? The cucumber was a disappointment. When I have a cuke centered beverage I imagine a clean and refreshing liquid but something in this mix muddied the tequilas in a less than pleasing way. The others, spicy, sweet or mixed worked really well with the alcohol and syrup, our server did a nice job suggesting rims that worked well with beverage within. We also tried a beverage called Tres Mules, which was much like a Moscow Mule with Tequila. All in all, not a bad way to lubricate a meal.


Jimmy Buffet Would Be Be Mystified

Nine Drinks Weren't Enough

Apps. Yeah, we got em. El Diablo. A coffee rubbed tuna was seared rare and set in a mole negro sauce. For me, the sauce beat the fish into submission and it should have been treated differently. The Camarones, or tequila-roasted shrimp were fine. They were cooked well, but the tequila and other additions did little to add to the decapod crustaceans. Better, were the plantain fritters. Just sweet but definitely starchy rounds were pounded flat, fried and served with a mint yogurt and a spicy salsa. The salsa seemed to be identical to the caliente offering from the trio (with the same distracting dankness) but the mint yogurt brought a bit of tangy pip to the starchy fruit, which worked much better than the salsa. I ordered the Cordero. Lamb and Cotija cheese enchiladas, set in a pool of pomegranate mole. Where the mole crushed the tuna, the fruit added a bit tang neglected in the tuna dish. The rich braised lamb and the salty cheese made for a serious bite, the mole balanced the richness, the whole thing worked. I stared thinking the Momocho guys are definitely involved here.

Mole Obliterated The Tuna

Tequila Shrimp Were Well Done But Lacked Layers

Enjoyed The Plantains

Cordero A Fantastic Combo Overall

Our entrees were a pollo crema, tacos al pastor, a chorizo burrito and scallops. The chicken was fine. All dinners are served with a rice or bean option. Our server recommended the beans and received a better tip for doing so. The rice was underdone, common for holding, but little had been done to rectify that before putting it on the plate. Past that, the dry yellow grains in most local Mexican places pack way more flavor than this pile tried to. The burracho pinto beans or the black beans were miles ahead of the rice. Dinners also came with a lightly pickled vegetable eschabeche. The choice of veg or the pickling might not be down everyone’s alley but they certainly satisfied my buds. Back to the chicken. Grilled. Okay. Some roasted jalapenos, sure. The crema ladled over the top was blended with goat cheese, making the sauce much more interesting than the protein beneath.

The tacos al pastor (chicken) were fine. Three cheeses and a pineapple-jicama slaw added to the dish but not enough to make it a contender with everything else at the table. I am a fan of bold and this would suit the more conservative. We broke a standing rule with the scallops. Seldom done well, more often poorly flavored, Nueveo really adds some punch to the round mollusks. Serious salt and pepper. Seared edges and tender interior. The roasted fennel and corn hash, with the peppery sauce beneath gave an anise-y and sweet tone to the sea nuggets. They are not a cheap option, probably not worth the expense, but much better than so many others we have tried.

Delicious Goat Cheese Crema On Functional Chicken

But Skip The Rice

Al Pastor Was Good But Paled Against Other Dishes

Scallops Were Tasty, For A Change

I tried something from the “Build Your Own” section. Again by our manic servers recommendation, as a burrito with taters on the side and inside. The house made chorizo restored my faith in ground sausage. Spiced and flavored past the hilt to the pommel, the ground meat was fiercely delicious. The taters were well seasoned, both with conventional and with added Mexican spice. You could fill a sock with this stuff and I’d eat it.

Sausage & Tater Burrito

Chorizo. Wow!

Reeling from salsa, chips, guacamole, appetizers and entrees, I couldn’t rationally consider dessert. Perhaps buoyed by ritas, I was driving, my three companions dismissed my groans and eye rolling and ordered four of them anyways. We should have gotten two plates of one of them. The churros were dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with a coconut chocolate sauce for dipping. They were alright but thick and sticky-cakey for me, they couldn’t compare to the unbelievable fried sticks from Xoco. The El Diablito was made of a marita chocolate mousse sandwiched by two slices of flourless chocolate cake. So heavy and dense, it needed another hint of sweetness (not a pile) to make it desserty. The candied nuts on the top were nice. A Tres Leches Triffle, a cup of pound cake soaked in milk with a layer of tasty lemon curd and topped with a tequila whipped cream. The curd was sharp and sweet but the cake was again too heavy, both in texture and suppressing power for me.

Then there was the “Fried” Semifreddo. It looks like a stick of butter (bring back any memories Joel?), sitting on a zigzag of fruit puree, with brown crunch on top. The toasted cornflakes evoke memories of fried ice cream but the salted brown butter meringue frozen beneath it created its own memory. Made with cajeta (which I learned is like a Mexican dulce de leche) this clean and unassuming plate is the only one I returned to, the flavor outweighing my serious lack of room. Skip the rest, get four of these.

If they are connected, the Akron outpost isn’t quite up to par with the Cleveland location on the plates or otherwise. It would be hard to imagine they aren’t at least kissin’ cousins if not outright sisters. If they aren’t whoever opened the Akron joint does well and has some excellent options on the menus. It’s worth a visit, just designate a driver.

Okay Mexican Donuts

Chocolate Needed An Opposing Flavor

Just Too Heavy For Me

But This Was Spectacular



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