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Home Food  She ate: Full of color, bursting with flavor
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Wednesday, July 9,2014

She ate: Full of color, bursting with flavor

by Gabrielle Johnson
There are few things I like better than a slightly crisped, lightly greasy corn tortilla wrapped around a fragrant, flavorful protein (al pastor, or marinated pork, is my favorite), a pinch of queso fresco (soft, white, crumbly Mexican cheese) and packing a little heat — preferably from a chunky, fresh salsa. Although I try to keep this affinity in check, both for my overall health and to avoid what I call “taco hand” (going back to the office with your hands smelling like the tacos you just devoured), I regularly get my fix at the El Oasis taco truck on Michigan Avenue. I was happy to branch out to Cancun Mexican Grill to explore more of Lansing’s Mexican food.

For our first lunch, the boyfriend and I chose the Cancun on Jolly Road. As I waited for him, I started chomping on the warm chips and bowl of salsa that was placed on my table. The chips were fresh, crisp and salty. The salsa was a tad thin for my taste, but that didn’t stop me from depleting our supply before he even arrived. They were readily replenished, with the quick and attentive service that held true through all three of our visits.

He ordered the full-sized chicken nachos ($8.25) and was presented with a platter of chips topped with shredded chicken, shredded cheese, a few pieces of chopped green pepper and topped with a generous amount of melted cheese sauce. The plate was monochromatic, and he would have liked more toppings; beans, lettuce, onion, salsa, guacamole, salsa, sour cream — any of these would have been a welcome addition, and were all absent. He liked the portion size, though — it made for a satisfying lunch but didn’t send him into a food coma.

I ordered a chicken quesadilla ($4.50), a flour tortilla folded in half over shredded chicken, cheese, a few peppers — exactly the same ingredients that topped the nachos. The quesadilla, while fresh and hot, was strangely the only thing on my plate. No shredded lettuce and refried beans. No sprinkle of cilantro. The quesadilla took up half the plate and looked lonely.

For our next visit, we headed to the original Cancun location on Central Park Place in Okemos. Same neon interior, same quick, attentive service. This time I ordered the Taquitos Mexicanos lunch special ($5.99), although I wasn’t exactly sure what I was ordering. This was the plate I was expecting on my first visit. Refried beans, rice, chunky salsa, shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and the main event: Corn tortillas, one filled with chicken and one with sliced steak, grilled until crispy. These taquitos — nay, this entire plate of food — was fantastic. It was fresh and colorful, and the price was right.

The boyfriend had chicken fajitas ($7.79). I cringed every time his hand came close to the sizzling hot handle of his plate. I think the sound of sizzling fajitas is immediately recognizable by just about everyone, whether you’ve had them once or a hundred times. (Also, if you’ve had fajitas a hundred times, please eat a salad.) His summary of his lunch was succinct: “Normal, not bullshit fajitas.” He got three flour tortillas, but he could have used a fourth.

We went back to the same location for one more lunch and this time noticed the restaurant’s small patio. I ordered the quesadilla lunch special ($6.25) and chose chicken over beef. This time my quesadilla was accompanied with shredded lettuce, refried beans, a slice of tomato, sour cream and guacamole. It was exactly the same as the last one — not particularly remarkable — but the addition of the beans and company worked wonders to make me feel more satisfied with my lunch. The boyfriend repeated the chicken nachos; again, no additional ingredients or garnishes were on his plate as they were on mine.

Service at Cancun is seriously quick, a boon for people on their lunch hour and presumably for the moms who were taking their kids out for end-of-theschool-year lunches.

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