Añejo Cocina, a Florida chainlet with locations in Ponte Vedra, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach and Yulee, has opened in the space in the Ravaudage Plaza that most recently was occupied by the New Standard (né Dexter’s New Standard) and before that TR Fire Grill.
Añejo calls its food “modern Mexican,” which means it isn’t traditional Mexican. In many ways, it isn’t traditional Tex-Mex, either. And that’s just fine. The food I sampled – some familiar, some creatively different – was all good, and the surroundings were pleasant and the service amiable.
My guests and I started with an unusual appetizer called Loaded Avocado, two halves of a Haas filled with chicken and topped with purple cabbage, cheese sauce, pico de gallo and cotijo. A rather tasty way to enjoy an avocado.
For dinner, one of my guests chose the flautas, four chicken-filled corn tortillas, rolled tight and deep fried and topped with greens, cream sauce, radish and guacamole.
It was good, but I liked my tamales much better. Filled with an ample amount of pork (you can have chicken if you prefer) and smeared with a red sauce and drizzled with crema.
Another guest was happier with the chile rellenos, roasted poblano peppers coated in a batter and fried. Relleno’d inside was ground beef, and Oaxaca cheese. It was dressed with salsa ranchera and sour cream and accompanied by Mexican rice and refried beans.
Big flour tortillas were used for the fajita burrito with ancho rubbed steak. I thought the tortillas could have been toasted a bit more, but the steak was delicious, and there were ample amounts of sour cream, guacamole and salsa to glop the whole thing up.
The space has been redone since the previous two tenants. The once-open kitchen has been tiled over (so have many other surfaces). Where the Standard had a stage there is now booth seating. A long bar still occupies the same space along one side of the restaurant with windows looking out to the ample patio space. This is a pretty sizable restaurant.
Mexican cuisine snobs will probably sneer at the food here. But I liked it for what it is. And by the way, the prices are reasonable even before you consider that the portions are ample.