By Keli Vitaioli
Los Girasoles, located at 101 West St., is the newest addition to Grinnell’s roster of Mexican restaurants. A bit beyond walking distance from the College, I believed it was The S&B’s responsibility to determine for ourselves if this mysterious newcomer was worth the trek.
The S&B staff, represented by myself, Louise Carhart and Teresa Fleming, both ’17, spent a romantic Valentine’s Day evening testing out how Los Girasoles stacked up against the heavy competition of Casa de Pancho, La Casa Margaritas and the ever controversial Taco Bell.
Upon entering Los Girasoles I was blown away by the sunny, cheerful décor. With mosaics, palm ferns and a decorative sombrero-filled wheelbarrow, the forty-degree weather outside was quickly forgotten as I was transported to a southwestern escape. Not to mention the abundance of sunflowers, more than living up to the name, covering walls, menus, booths and even tables. Fleming described it as “an oasis in the corn fields.”
Fleming and Carhart enjoying Girasoles, sunflower, themed decor.
When our food arrived, it became clear serving sizes are also an added plus to Los Girasoles. Carhart’s and my orders came with an ample amount of refried beans, rice and even a shredded lettuce salad. The plate was larger than my face, possibly larger than all three of our faces combined.
I ordered a Spanish omelette, which featured a tasty blend of eggs, peppers, mushrooms and salsa. Being someone who typically doesn’t stray far beyond a veggie burrito, I was pleasantly surprised at the added pizazz and protein the egg brought to my meal. Overall, the dish exceeded my expectations in taste, flavor, spicy-ness and mouth-feel.
Fleming ordered nachos with shredded beef while Carhart chose the veggie quesadilla. Similar to my order, the plate sizes could be likened to a 50 lb weight plate from the Bear.
My face next to plate for comparison.
“It was delicious, I enjoyed every bite until I had arrived at the end of my chips and I realized I had a whole third of my plate left that was just cheese, beef and guac, so it was a ratio issue, and I don’t enjoy food waste. But I enjoyed 66.6 percent of the bites,” Fleming said.
“It had a good mix of vegetables, but it could’ve been fried a little bit longer,” Carhart said.
Teresa Fleming and Louise Carhart both ’17 and the staff’s resident margarita experts, sampled the restaurant’s mango and raspberry margarita options respectively.*
“It was smooth and tasted like mango,” Fleming said. “At Casa de Pancho, they tend to taste more like tequila, and this was way better.”
“It tasted better than most margaritas I’ve had,” Carhart said, which is high praise considering her margarita expert status.
The crowd at Los Girasoles was also a refreshing surprise — I spotted nary neither an underage drunken baseball player nor a gaggle of CLS advisors exchanging resume horror stories over salsa. Our corner booth, decorated generously with sunflowers, provided enough isolation for us to enjoy each other’s company while the pleasant din of other diners was merely ambiance and not a distraction.
Spanish Omlette adding protein and pizzaz.
Our waitress was not overly attentive, but she was quick to take our orders and ask how our meals were, ideal for our romantic dinner date. With entrees ranging from seven to 15 dollars, the meal was worth the five-minute drive. When it comes to Mexican food in Grinnell, Los Girasoles is definitely the new fan favorite.
“I think it is a fresh new voice in the Mexican food scene in Grinnell,” Fleming said. “I really enjoyed my evening there, and I will definitely be coming back.”
“I liked the ambiance a lot more than other Mexican restaurants in town, and I will definitely return,” Carhart said. “And, it’s a lot of food.”
*Please enjoy your margaritas responsibly and use tasty nachos to bribe a friend to DD