Mingo Kitchen + Lounge
Mundo Chopped Salad – Bleu Cheese, Poblano Pepper, Tomato, Cucumber, Apple, Red Onion, Golden Raisins, Tortilla Chips, Queso, Vinaigrette
Crispy Calamari – Cilantro Serrano Sauce, Sweet Chipotle Sauce
Pollo Rostisado – Roasted Chicken, Tamarind Chile Glaze, Sweet Corn Tamale
Filet Mignon Chile Relleno – Black Beans, Rice, Mushrooms, Potatoes, Roasted Tomato Sauce, Crema
Mini Cheesecake Trio – Caramel Apple, White Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Swirl
Pecan Bars – Vanilla Ice Cream
Churros – Vanilla Ice Cream
While the ability to travel and dine at several of the World’s greatest Restaurants is undoubtedly a privilege to be grateful for it also comes at a cost, the financial aspect obvious to most but the risk of becoming ‘jaded’ also something to be taken into consideration; an elevated sense of what is possible often setting a bar too high for more casual circumstances, though in the case of Mingo Kitchen + Lounge it seems as if the average local Diner or even Denny’s may have higher standards for what they serve.
Currently located at 1017 South 1st Street in the Arts Distict, the former Mundo inside World Market Center shuttering in December 2015 and becoming Mingo shortly thereafter, it was on a baffling recommendation of “the food was pretty good when I was there” from one member of the team that the office Christmas Party was booked for Dinner on Friday, a 7:00pm arrival finding vagrants in the parking lot and a bar nearby jumping, the “closed for Private Event” sign on Mingo’s door apparently not enough to dissuade rough n’ tumble looking regulars who more than once attempted to enter.
Originally toqued by Chef Robert Solano, much of his Latin-inspired menu ported over from World Market as “Mundo Classics” to join a list of “Mingo Faves” and “Sharables” with clever names, everything from Mac n’ Cheese Hotdogs and #IMABIGDILL Frickles joining items as pricey as the $28 Boneless Ribeye, it was with a prix fixe offered by way of check-boxes that guests were greeted at their seats, the “decadent & sexy lounge” likely only fitting such a description for those fresh from the Strip Club as tacky glass raindrops blended with mixed lighting, worn leather banquets and the overwhelming smell of Clorox.
One-upping the description of their décor with “an inventive & risqué menu,” the inane hashtag descriptions apparently intended to be provocative, it was with drink tickets distributed that guests were left to decide between Beer, cheap Wine or “Well Cocktails” described as “a shot with some mix,” the decision to try Sangria finding Fruit and Wine largely inoffensive, as too was Iced Tea that was refilled appropriately.
Originally told that Appetizers were a choice by servers, this fact unapparent on the paper menu and actually untrue as the kitchen sent out individual Salads plus a sparse plate of Calamari to be shared at each table, suffice it to say that dinner got off to an inauspicious start when the jumble of Fruits and Vegetables arrived sloppy wet and best eaten with a spoon while the rings of Squid were largely overcooked and only rescued by bottled Sauces in plastic cups that were the furthest thing from risqué, sexy or inventive.
Next offering one of four entrees, the person who recommended the place actually returning hers to the kitchen because it was too spicy, anyone seeking ‘sexy’ vibes or good Mexican food would be well advised to stay at Sapphires and dine at El Dorado or give up the glitz and drive over to Charleston Road for better as the Chicken was nicely roasted but far too sweet while the Filet Mignon Chile Relleno was fair to middling at best, though the Corn Tamale clearly made from a mix instead of actual Masa was a nostalgic throwback to Chi-Chi’s Corn Pudding from a Midwestern childhood.
Exchanging White Elephant gifts and playing Trivia throughout the course of two hours, the people present helping to alleviate much of the regret for ever stepping through Mingo’s doors, it was with samples of all three Desserts that dinner lurched across the finish-line, the Churros easily the most edible option though everyone agreed they were too hard while the Pecan Bars as well as the “Cheesecake Bites” were confirmed via the internet to be straight out of Costco.
ONE STAR: An unmitigated disaster in terms of food and décor, the fact that Mingo’s website actually brags of both almost as tone-deaf as Mario Batali’s recent apology with a recipe, the only thing good about this night out was the people involved plus the knowledge that a Corn Pudding like Chi-Chi’s still exists in the form of a packaged mix sold at Vons.
RECOMMENDED: Corn Tamale.
AVOID: Mingo Kitchen + Lounge.
TIP: I promised to be nice. This is as good as I could do. Obviously my opinions are not representative of the group.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.