The battle for Mexican restaurant supremacy rages on. With a plethora of eateries in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area offering quality Mexican dishes, it’s hard to decide who will emerge as the frontrunner. Enter La Fuente.
La Fuente, located at 1930 Whittaker Road in Ypsilanti, is flanked by Kroger’s on one side, tucked away in a strip mall just a stone’s throw from Eastern Michigan University’s campus. La Fuente takes reservations, is kid-friendly and offers outdoor seating. Whether out on a date or in need of a strong margarita after a hellish workday, La Fuente strives to offer quality food at competitive prices.
The service at La Fuente is, in a word, weird. The waiters were unusually upbeat considering that the dinner rush was mild. Whether singing loudly to the mariachi music or cracking jokes in Spanish, it’s hard not to scratch your head upon seating. However, my waiter was a generally nice gent, and I was promptly seated upon arrival.
I glanced over the menu hoping to find some authentic, certifiable Mexican cuisine. Instead the menu was devoid of such, offering partially authentic, partially Tex-Mex style food. Simply put, the menu was the direct result of what happens when you Americanize and bastardize Mexican food and whisk it off to the suburbs.
After the waiter spoke in Spanish some more and I kicked myself for not paying attention in high school, I started off with a heaping basket of complimentary chips and salsa. The salsa is frankly nothing special. Store-bought with some cilantro sprinkled in, it was the texture of liquid. This was a letdown, but it was free so beggars can’t be choosers, right?
I decided to shake things up a bit and indulge in one of La Fuente’s various appetizers. I opted for the queso fundido for $6.75, which is queso blanco (white cheese) dip with chorizo bits sprinkled in. Hold the phone, for this was not your common or garden cheese dip. The chorizo was the right mix of spicy and sweet. With the spiciness of the queso to contend with, your taste buds will rejoice and sing in harmony after sampling this delectable dish.
Then the entrée came. I ordered the enchiladas super rancheros consisting of five enchiladas with beef, shredded beef, cheese, beans and chicken all on one plate, and it was a generous portion to say the least. Served with ranchero sauce, cheese and sour cream, I will say that this dish surprised me. The taste was not too bad, but at the same time not too good. The ranchero sauce was store-bought, and I got the feeling that the rest of their ingredients were not fresh. My worst fears were confirmed when my food took about 15 minutes to cook, plate and bring to my table, not long after I ordered my appetizer.
The décor and ambience was victim to cliché Mexican murals. Also, I understand the need for mariachi music in a restaurant of this setting, but it’s just such an outdated form of “dinner music,” sadly for which there are few alternatives. Nevertheless, the place was spotless and well organized, which made the service efficient.
The sizable portions are not too hard on your wallet, so if you want to bring the kids to dine in, I would recommend it. Where La Fuente veers off the path is that although it houses a full bar complete with 42 oz. margaritas, it offers no happy hour and the setup and overall atmosphere doesn’t entice or hold the customer like it should. La Fuente is simply a place to eat and leave, nothing more, nothing less.