Rockland’s Tres Amigos Mexican Restaurant is the Real Deal!

March 23, 2012


Restaurant review by Pale Rider

Drew “Pale Rider” Townson is a Rockland resident who relocated to MA from Texas. Read his guide to evaluating Mexican food here, “A Texan on Mexican Food: A Primer for the Yankee Palate…”

The Ballad of Tres Amigos! Olé!

Opening a year ago without a liquor license, and struggling through fits and false-starts, Rockland’s Tres Amigos is finally off the ground. Word on the street is that the place is good. But all-too-often I’ve been very disappointed by local (so-called) Mexican restaurants, even popular ones. I grew up in Texas and have lived in New Mexico, so I know good Mexican when I find it. And I can tell you with full confidence that Tres Amigos is the real deal. They serve-up fresh, hand-made and authentic Mexican cuisine.

For starters, the fresh salsa is excellent. It reminds me of a smaller-batch version of El Sarape’s, the restaurant we consider the gold-standard for Mexican on the South Shore. Tres Amigos was a little skimpy on the chips (they brought us more on request), and we prefer a thinner, lighter chip, but this was by no means a deal-breaker.

The Mexican Flag: Guac, Salsa y Crema (sour cream).

The so-called “Crazy Guacamole” is unreal and unbeatable for a 22-mile radius. It’s even BETTER than Sarape’s! And as Pale Rider always says, if the guac is good, the food is good! They bring a bowl of naked, freshly mashed avocado to your table, along with all the things you might or might not want to mix in to it – onions, tomatoes, cilantro, etc. Fantastic!

Tres Amigo’s menu offers an array of authentic and traditional main dishes, including not-typically seen items like carnitas, chile rellenos, tacos al pastor, tacos de carne adobada, tortilla soup, enchiladas moles, flautas, shrimp and scallop dishes, and much more. Not your typical commercial fajita and chimichanga menu, I think you’ll agree.

We tried the carne asada tacos, which were delicious and totally authentic, in a soft corn shell. The tasty, grilled steak was only accompanied by chopped onions and sprinkled cilantro, and not all the usual gringo-ized junk like cheese and lettuce. Dash in a little Cholula hot-sauce and you’re trippin’ on taco treasure-island!

The enchiladas moles (of course we had to try the mole) were astonishing. Tres Amigos’ version of mole sauce (so notoriously hard to make it’s not even offered by most commercial Mexican places) seems more small-batch and hand-made than Sarape’s, whose mole sets the bar by which we judge all mole. This mole is more challenging in that the bitter chocolate is predominant. A hard-core aficionado would say that Sarape’s might in-fact be too smoothed out, and this punchier, more bitter version is more genuine. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of sweet and savory flavors in there as well. I totally loved it. I might actually like it more than El Sarape’s. Of course the tortillas were authentically corn, not flour, giving the enchiladas that tasty, corny sweetness, and the pollo inside was perfect; not-at-all stringy or dry.

The flautas my wife ordered were tasty tubes of beef in a chewy corn tortilla wrapping, just as expected. They were just a little too salty, but darn good.

All dishes come with the traditional sides of refried beans and Spanish rice, both of which are well above average, and not just an afterthought slopped on the plate. Like everything else, there is evidence of hand-made care, even in the sides.

La Cervesa Mas Refrescante!

I was happy to see that 3A has one of my favorite Mexican beers, Tecate, which I love in the can with a lime-wedge. You don’t see Tecate every day around here, so there’s another plus in my book!

The margarita menu looks great, containing several original concoctions by 3A bartender Tito, who is one of the most personable guys you’ll ever meet. I haven’t had a chance to dive in to the cocktails yet, but I will say one thing: The tequila selection is barely the bare minimum at only two or three bottles. They really need to step-it-up in that department, and if I have anything to say about it, they will. *See Pale Rider’s famous tequila blog, Rancho Tequila.

Tito turned me on to a Tres Amigos house-secret that is not on the menu. They have their own home-made hot-sauce; a real uber-picante creation. It comes in three levels of heat; uno amigo, dos amigos y TRES AMIGOS! I tried the dos, adding some in to the regular salsa. I love heat, and I loved it. I would have tried the tres but they didn’t have any. Why? Because Tito’s order for ghost-peppers, the world’s hottest pepper, has not come in yet. So, the tres amigos picante sauce could well be considered weaponized food. Apparently you will need to sign a waiver of responsibility before they let you try it. Here’s my pen, baby, where do Pale Rider sign? (Have an ambulance and a fire extinguisher standing by!)

But wait! That’s not all! Tres Amigos is now offering live latin and mariachi music on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as live comedy on Sundays. They are planning to expand with local bands of different popular genres, including rock, folk and country. Why not drop in some evening for comida, musica y cervesa? How about enjoying Cinco de Mayo, right here in Rocko-de-Vego?

Tres Amigos has good service, a friendly staff (especially Tito), moderate prices, and really good food. Rocklanders, don’t  ignore Tres Amigos. This place is excellent, and well-deserving of success. Do yourself and the restaurant a favor, and give Tres Amigos a try. I give it quatro estrellas!

The 411:

Offering Lunch and Dinner with full bar

Address: 323 Union Street, Rockland

Phone 339-469-1434

HOURS: Mon – Tue, 11a to 10p, Wed till 11p, Thurs till 12, and Fri & Sat till 1a.

Closed Sundays except for comedy events.

Wicked Local Feature on Tres Amigos by by Mikaela Slaney