Ocho Cafe has found its rhythm…but not its spice


Amelia Jarrett

Ocho Cafe menu

Amelia Jarrett, Features Editor

Early this summer, Ocho Cafe opened it’s doors. Among their first customers was Ghostwriter Opinions Editor Pravar Mukkala, who found the restaurant’s vegetarian options lacking, cold, and practically drowning in sour cream. I was curious if anything had changed since his review, and took a trip to the Mexican restaurant last week to find out.

The restaurant is brightly colored, with decorative ceramics on practically every flat surface in sight. Open windows lining the walls allowed a fair amount of mid-afternoon daylight to illuminate the dining area.

My family, consisting of me, my mom, dad, and grandparents, ordered Baja Fish Tacos ($10), Tacos Al Pastor ($11), Enchiladas Suizas ($11), Pork Carnitas Tacos ($11), Tortilla Soup ($8), and Fajitas Hawaiianas ($12). Our table had a few unusual dietary needs, and the staff attended to that as best they could, replacing sides or toppings and pointing out menu options suitable for my mother’s many allergies.

While we waited, we snacked on corn tortilla chips and tomato salsa. A small bowl of guacamole was prepared table-side as a part of my dad’s meal.

The food arrived in a relatively timely manner, with the fajitas taking the longest. The fish tacos, served with pico de gallo and a chipotle cream sauce, were made with mahi-mahi, instead of the cod my dad was used to. This was not a bad thing, and though it didn’t blow him away, he did enjoy it.

As I mentioned earlier, my mother has many allergies, so her food options were much more limited. She got enchiladas made with corn tortillas and served without tomatoes. Even without the fresh veggies, she said it was delicious.

My grandmother, having ordered the Tacos Al Pastor and Tortilla Soup, said that both were delicious, and that the soup had a refreshing lime flavor. My grandfather ordered the pork carnitas tacos, and while I didn’t have a chance to ask him what he thought, I would assume he liked it because he finished the plate at a record-setting speed.

The meal I can attest to most is the one that I ordered, the Fajitas Hawaiianas.  Served still-sizzling on a skillet, the fajitas consisted of a grilled chicken laying on a bed of grilled onions, peppers, and pineapple. On the side, there was a small container of freshly-baked flour tortillas, and a plate of rice with a bowl of guacamole, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and a dish of beans.

Fajitas Hawaiianas

I greatly enjoyed the veggies, as the soft sweetness of the onions and peppers complimented the tang of the pineapple perfectly. Though the rice was a little dry, when mixed with other components of the meal, it was very good. I also greatly enjoyed the beans, as Ocho Cafe avoided the mistake of having them become too mushy. The chicken was cut in long strips, making it easy to cut up and eat, as well as looking pretty.

With all the positives, there were bound to be some shortcomings. The lettuce was slightly wilted, and there was quite a large amount of cilantro topping the entire dish. However, where Ocho Cafe truly fell short was their spices. The chicken was cooked through and good enough, but it was not nearly as spicy as I had hoped or expected. It would have been nice for there to be a dash of paprika to balance out the sweetness of the pineapple.

Halfway through my meal, I found that not enough seasoning was a theme at our table. For my parents and me, this was disappointing, as we tend to like our meals heavily seasoned, but my grandparents do not care for strong seasonings and found the lack of spices enjoyable.

Flavor profiles aside, the food was appropriately sized. Each of us found our meals filling without becoming heavy. Though I was unable to finish mine, the staff provided to-go boxes for us to take what was left of the meals with us.

I would like to note here that I can only truly attest to my own experiences. There’s always a chance that someone else may have a different experience, or that other meals are not as good, but I had an enjoyable afternoon with my family.

Even though it wasn’t the best food I’ve ever had, I found the entire experience to be delightful, so I would give Ocho Cafe a solid 9/10. I am ready to go back again to try some of their other menu options…but only if I bring my own seasonings!