A Clovis & Portales Survival Guide
Everybody loves Leal’s and no two people pronounce it the same. ‘Leelz’ – ‘Lee-ahz’. You just call it whatever works best for you. I was excited to try this place out and see what all the fuss is about. Try some REAL New Mexican fare! I was very misinformed.
I have this problem with ‘non authentic foods’. Let me just get that out there before I even start. When I eat thai food I go to the seedy place where no one speaks English. When I go to eat Italian food I expect a fat man with way too many syllables in his last name to be making his ma’s sauce. SO, when I got to Leal’s and they served mediocre Mexican Style I was very disappointed.
The building was bright and colorful. The parking lot was pretty full which didn’t surprise me because I know how popular this place is.
We were seated quickly in a medium sized room full of mismatched furniture and fake plants. The exposed brick and sunset paint job clashed pretty furiously with the ceiling fans painted like stained glass. The aluminum siding on the walls still had the price stickers attached, the glass dividers had cheap looking etched roses. The whole place just looked cheap to me though I wasn’t expecting anything fancy. Thats OK, as long as the food and service is good, who cares what the place looks like! There was no music playing so you heard everyone chattering away. The waitress took our drink orders and brought us the FAMOUS Leal’s tortilla chips. I see them for sale at the grocery store all the time but have been waiting for this moment to try them.
The chips were nothing to write home about. They make better ones at La Paz in Portales. The salsa was also pretty bland. It tasted like canned tomatoes run through a blender for 15 seconds. WTF Leal’s?!
The menu had lots of options. Daily specials like Enchiladas or Chile Relleno for under $10. Fajitas between $9 and $15. Some interesting sounding dishes like a Stuffed Avocado (breaded, fried and stuffed with meat and cheese) $9. They have an array of fancy Quesadilla options like BBQ or Chipotle or Shrimp and Spinach, none of which crack that $15 mark.
For the boozes they have plenty-O Mexican Cervesas: Tecate, Dos Equis, Corona, Negro Modello. And of course no Mexican joint is complete without Margaritas. I was surprised to see wine options on the menu.
I was torn for what we’d share for desert.. the ‘Mexicheesecake’ $6 or the ‘Fried Icecream’.
The menu totes that Leal’s is ‘The Finest since 1957′ and there are other locations in Muleshoe and Amarillo.
Our waitress was very nice but she was nowhere to be found when I needed her. She brought out our meals and disappeared again before I could ask for hot sauce. This was not exactly what I had in mind for the most popular Mexican joint in town. The food was greasy as most Mexican food is. Thats something I can deal with but the tiny enchiladas and boxed taco shells was not. What combo meal in the history of Mexico doesn’t come with rice and beans? The ground beef wasn’t savory and the iceberg lettuce was not quality.
By the time desert came around we already felt so ripped off we decided to pass.
I wouldn’t say that this place is ALL bad. It might be a good place to go for a ‘non-foodie’. For the less adventurous who likes very very mild foods. Probably perfect for someone who wants to feel like they are eating Mexican food but really they just want some white-wahsed version of what mama used to make.
I’m not coming back here again. I’m also not going to suggest this place to anyone. This is NEW MEXICO, there is no excuse for poor quality Mexican food.