Hot salsa, strong margaritas, "were-these-made-in-Mexico?" quality quesadillas... they all come together, sheltered in a Caribbean style home with a South American flair. I was envisioning our Picante night on the burning horizon.
My family had washed down meal after Mexican meal at Picante since they moved to Anguilla in August 2008.
Five months later I arrived.
Clearly, I was lagging behind, and it was about time I caught up!
We parked our Jeep in the dusty, dirt lot behind the colorful establishment, lined with sparkling lights and desert gardens.
As we walked through the wooden walkway, the familiar fragrance of secret spices and recipes, passed down through generations, filled the air, and it all came rushing back...
I would travel far and wide to get to Anguilla, just for a meal here!
I felt relaxed, at home in the warm atmosphere. The element of excitement?
Since my Mom, Dad and Yuki had a few visits up on me, they had ventured from our family favorites, establishing a big new one.
Before they revealed their latest Picante addiction though, our waitress Kerry brought over a basket of hot nachos, straight from the oven, complemented by spicy salsa!
Then, it was time to try the dish that my Dad and Yuki were craving...
Now, I understand.
Before, I had no prior conception of how one could crave an appetizer with such intensity!
Picante's calamari are perfect little squid rings, lightly battered and deep fried, with just enough flavor and a hint of lime.
Without any hesitation, they serve the most delicious calamari I have ever sampled...
And that's coming from someone who grew up in Montreal, a city loaded with Greek restaurants!
We ordered two calamari appetizers, which was just enough. If you're really hungry, I would even consider ordering one per person... The best advice I can give you is don't eat lunch before dining at Picante!
My stomach would be put to the test tonight!
We sat back and enjoyed the bustling room, filled with both locals and visitors, a restaurant defined by its true fusion of Caribbean beauty and Mexican charm!
Then, Kerry came back to us, main dishes in hand. Would my stomach fail me or would I pass with flying colors?
After the nachos and the calamari, I was still able to polish off my hard-shell steak tacos.
I graduated with an A+.
Hard-shell tacos are always a challenge to eat, but that's half the fun. Picante's home-made shells are a treat, with finely chopped and grilled slices of steak, cheese and freshly diced tomato cubes.
My Mom, Dad and Yuki managed with their dishes as well, claiming that their steak quesadillas were the best item on the menu.
I'll have to get back to you about that sizable statement!
We all ate here, with a couple of Caribs and rum punches, for $120 USD. Sadly, we didn't have room for dessert.
That will have to wait 'till next time. I'll pace myself.
Picante made me fall in love with Mexican food. It's the only Mexican restaurant I've enjoyed time and time again, getting it right at every turn!
A Quick Note: If you're planning to get to Anguilla just for a meal at Picante, it's best to make reservations. Every wooden bench and table are always taken!