Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant in Kuna Excels in Mexican Food, Cocktails

Chili relent and tacos side view at Enrique's Mexican Restaurant in KunaEnrique’s Mexican Restaurant in Kuna is an ideal spot to enjoy quality Mexican food with delicious drinks. Located just a short drive away in Kuna, it is obvious that plenty of people coming in to Enrique’s have driven to Kuna especially to dine there. Take note—there will probably be a wait. Even though Enrique’s is fairly large inside, it seems to attract a lot of people who drive over from Boise, Meridian and other cities for the delicious food and drinks they have. Also judging from the large amount of tables with 12 and up numbers of people at them, it is a very popular place for large groups. Of course, a wait usually means the food is good and Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant certainly is worth waiting for.

On my first visit, I opted to sit at the bar. Zack, one of the bartenders, took me through some of the drinks there and I wound up getting the house margarita. It was nice, made on the rocks as I prefer it. The next time I was in, over a month later, Zack commented that he remembered me when I sat down at the bar. You don’t find many places like that where you really feel like a “regular”. This time, he suggested a Casa Noble Tequila for sipping. It was a good choice while waiting for a table, along with delicious warm chips and fresh salsa. The tequila was very smooth and it was easy to drink. A nice touch was looking over to the prep area and seeing beautiful fresh sliced ruby red grapefruit.

For my first meal at Enrique’s, I made my own combination. I ordered a chili relleno and three soft tacos. The carne asada taco was nice, with a good beefy flavor to it. The carnitas taco was also a standout, with the tender pork chunks having some nice crispness on them that upped the flavor and texture. These are real street tacos, made on a small, fresh pair of soft corn tortillas. Topped with a little salsa, they were three exquisite bites, just as a good taco should be.

One of my go-to items for judging Mexican cuisine is their al pastor. Al pastor pork (or pork adobada) is actually a fairly recent development where the Mexicans in the early 1900s were influenced by Middle Eastern immigrants and their vertical spit roasting, used for making gyros and shwarma. The thinly sliced marinated pork is placed on the vertical spit with some onion and/or pineapple at the top of the spit to baste it as it cooks. Enrique’s al pastor taco was excellent, with the roasted marinated pork and onion made into a soft taco and then topped by cilantro and a few chunks of chopped fresh pineapple. Each bite yielded a different combination of flavors and the pineapple added not only texture but a sweet acidity that really made them delicious.

The chile relleno is another Mexican dish that is a favorite of mine. Unlike many dishes, though, a barely passable chile relleno is the norm and it is hard to find a really good one. Part of this is time—-a really proper chile relleno is made with a light, airy batter created by making almost an egg-white foam and mixing it into the whipped yolks, while an average one just whips the entire egg together to make a slightly foamy dip for the poblano or Anaheim chile. It was apparent Enrique’s did the former—-the tender chile was coated in a nice fried batter almost as airy as a meringue. A good portion of cheese filled the coated chile, nice and mild and fresh. The sauce was flavorful and coated the chile relleno nicely. Served with some rice and beans, it made a very flavorful dish and an excellent chile relleno.

A second visit to Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant in Kuna yielded a wait for the table, so drinks at the bar were in order. The Mango Margarita was nicely sized, available frozen or on the rocks. Opting for the frozen one, it was flavorful, not too sweet and not too tart. Of course, there was a brain freeze at one point, but that’s to be expected with a blended margarita. Nice, warm chips and a slightly hot red salsa helped chase away the hunger while sipping drinks. By the time the margarita was mostly gone, a nice table had opened up.

Enrique’s menu contains a wide variety of Mexican delights. Appetizers and side dishes include tacos, both meat and fish a la carte, as well as tamales and the chile relleno. What is really impressive however is their main menu, which is broken into several sections. Of course, there are the typical combo plates, burritos and chimichangas, taco plates (with a very wide range of taco meats such as beef shredded and grilled, chorizo, chicken, pork and authentic specialties like lengua (tongue) and cabeza (cheek), enchilada plates and even some Americano plates for those who just can’t do Mexican food and would rather have a burger.

For those who are looking for something different, Enrique’s has a nice variety of seafood dishes. Soups are also plentiful, with soups like Pozole (pork and hominy) and Caldo de Camaron (shrimp soup) making warm, filling meals for a cold winter day. There is also a nice selection of entree salads. At the table next to me, holding maybe 16 diners getting together for a fun evening, I couldn’t help overhearing a discussion of how Enrique’s Taco Salad was something the diner came back for again and again, as it was “the best salad ever”. Another page listed Molcajetes, a unique set of dishes served in a hot stone bowl.

With a long list of House Specialties, it was difficult to make a choice. Everything from Chili Verde, Taquitos Rancheros, Tacos al Carbon (grilled steak tacos), Steak Ranchero and even a 16-oz. T-Bone Steak graced the menu. There were several chicken dishes too, including Pollo en Mole (Chicken in Mole Sauce), Pollo con Crema (Chicken in Cream Sauce) and Arroz con Pollo (chicken sauteed with rice and tomatoes). Finally, at the bottom I saw something I had not expected at all. It was a Plato de Cabrito; and I knew it was for me.

Cabrito is goat, not very common in the US but a favorite in Mexico and the Caribbean. It is not for everyone (think of lamb with a more assertive taste), but if you like it, it is just plain delicious. Enrique’s version was slowly cooked in Enrique’s own special sauce, simmered for hours until it fell apart. It was served on a platter with rice, beans and warm chopped tomatoes, along with a couple of fresh hot tortillas.

My server warned me about the small container of salsa that came with it. Indeed, a taste on the fork yielded a very hot, probably straight habanero salsa to be used with the cabrito. The salsa was hot—and kept calling me back for more. On a second plate, fresh cilantro, chopped onion and limes allowed for seasoning the cabrito exactly how you wanted it. Eaten either off the fork, or rolled up with some beans, onions and cilantro and topped with a squeeze of lime in the delicious fresh flour tortilla, this meal reminded me of a place I’d eaten at in Puerto Vallarta. It was absolutely delicious, the tender meat with almost a tart seasoning brightened up by the fresh squeeze of lime or a touch of the hot salsa.

My dining companion opted for the popular dish, Fajitas. This was available in beef or chicken, with optional choices of chorizo, shrimp and carnitas. The presentation of the fajitas was excellent. First a full platter was brought out, with a “setup” of beans, rice, sour cream, salsa, guacamole and a choice of corn or flour tortillas. Shortly thereafter, a hot sizzling platter, so loud that it attracted attention from other diners, was brought to the table. The large platter was covered with plenty of marinated beef, green bell peppers, sliced onion, mushrooms and tomatoes, still cooking on the extremely hot cast-iron platter. It was a feast, not only a nice presentation but a combination of nice flavors.

With the generous portions of food that Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant in Kuna serves, something from their list of great-looking desserts was not in the cards. Another day, a trip for a couple of tacos, a nice cup of coffee and a dessert such as Flan or Tres Leches Cake might just be in order.

Enrique’s is well worth the trip to Kuna for quality Mexican food. Service is very good and the servers are very accomodating. It’s also a good choice for a fun meal with your friends, family or Meetup group, with many large tables for guests. If you’re looking for something with more variety than the local taqueria and with a nice bar too, then Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant in Kuna is an excellent choice.

Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant

482 W. Main Street

Kuna, ID 83634

Phone: (208) 922-5169

Website: www.enriqueskuna.com

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