I don’t get too worked up about what’s “authentic” Mexican food vs. Americanized corporate “product,” but the appearance and sounds at seem pretty authentic. The name, which means “three colts” or “three little ponies,” comes from the nickname for a trio of brothers who are popular singers in Mexico. Alejandro Fernández is the most famous of the three.
The menu is extensive, ranging from typical Mexican appetizers (the Mommias appetizer, six jumbo shrimp marinated and rolled up with bacon, $6.90, looks interesting) to Lunch Specials for $4.99, Create Your Own combos ($6.15. or $7.25 during lunch, $7.20 to $10.25 for dinner), to familiar fajitas, chimichangas, enchiladas, tostadas $6.10 to $8.40), steaks ($8.50 to $16.25), salads, chicken, seafood and plenty more. Even those who don’t like Mexican food in general will find something appealing on this menu.
If you choose to dine outdoors, be forewarned that the yellow jacket hornets are getting pretty aggressive, as they typically do this time of year. That’s not the restaurant’s fault, of course.
The restaurant, owned by brothers Rafael and Guillermo Ayala, says all of its meats are fresh, not frozen, and the dishes are prepared on the premises. Mario, my waiter, said the only thing frozen at the restaurant is the ice cream.
The service is friendly and fast (the kitchen is fast too). I doubt 10 minutes elapsed from the time Mario took the order to when it arrived at my table. That’s a good thing for the lunch crowd. I went with the $4.99 lunch special, selecting a beef burrito with the standard rice and refried beans on the side. I munched on a few freshly fried (in vegetable oil) chips with a slightly runny salsa. Very mild heat.
The burrito and sides filled the plate, with some mozzarella melted on the burrito and beans. That's a lot of food for $4.99. The ground beef in the burrito was fresh and very mildly seasoned. The rice was also mildly seasoned, and the refried beans were pretty standard fare. I’d have liked maybe a little more kick, but then I did pick a pretty tame selection off the lunch special menu.
I did notice on the seafood menu Camerones a la Diabla with the warning “very hot” ($12): 14 shrimp cooked in hot sauce and served with Mexican rice, lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole. Maybe next time.
The lunch menu also offers a lunch-sized lime margarita for $2.50. Get it on the rocks if you like to taste the tequila, but don’t have more than one if you hope to have a productive afternoon.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big dessert guy, but in the name of journalism I sacrificed the well-being of my bathroom scale and ordered Churros and ice cream ($3.90), which came highly recommended. Out came three doughnut-like dough sticks stuffed with a dense custard and a generous scoop of ice cream, all drizzled with strawberry syrup. It’s quite rich and sweet, the cinnamon didn’t overpower everything else, and it was more than I could finish. Very good. Definitely bring a friend or a date for this.
The restaurant has been on Montrose West Ave. for about eight years, and it has the atmosphere of a well-run restaurant: attentive and knowledgeable wait staff and quick service out of the kitchen. The food didn’t always knock my socks off (the dessert did), but I did opt for pretty tame stuff. Reviews from restaurant customer review websites have been mixed, mostly favorable, but take the source of that information with a grain of salt – both bad and good. There’s no telling if a competitor is posting a bad review or a friend is loading up on good reviews.
As for my review: I’ll visit Tres Potrillos again.
Tres Potrillos, 115 Montrose West Ave., 330-668-9779. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday.
A new location in Medina recently opened at 3175 Medina Rd. (Route 18), 330-723-5600. Also a location just outside of Columbus, 964 Galloway Rd., Galloway, OH 43119, 614-851-9540.