When I tell people where I live, their quizzical response is, 99.9% of the time, “Where is Poolesville?” The answer: it is in northern Montgomery County, isolated by the Potomac River and the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve. We’ve got a lot to offer nature enthusiasts, cyclists, and history buffs but in the food department, well, not so much. In fact, my town is technically a food desert: Poolesville does not have a grocery store. Don’t get me started on the irony of living in a community surrounded by farms that doesn’t have a reliable and local mechanism for purchasing food. Ahem…
…Anyway, we do have a handful of restaurants and the best and most surprising is Mexican Grill. You may be surprised to find authentic Mexican food in a predominantly causcasian exburb of DC, but we do have that. And boy, are we lucky! My household consists of a vegan, an omnivore, and two little omnivores and Mexican Grill has something to satisfy us all, whether we choose to carry out or dine in.
Folks in Poolesville may remember the bumpy early days when Mexican Grill was trying to find its groove with opening hours and staff while running a number of successful taco trucks down county . We found that the food remained reliably delicious no matter what operational glitches were going on behind the scenes. Today, they have a remodeled space that feels more contemporary and with a more responsive customer service vibe. When driving by at dinner time, the busy dining room is a positive testament to the results of their makeover.
Their menu is fairly typical for many Mexican restaurants but also offers some items you may not usually see at more Americanized joints, such as guaraches, sopes, platanos, yucca, and tacos de lengua. We have tried pretty much every item on the menu, and have never had anything to be a disappointment but our family does have its favorites.
Mexican Grill offers a number of vegetarian dishes, and they can be made vegan upon request. The biggest veggie hit in our house is the veggie burrito platter–a soft tortilla rolled around rice, beans, and veggies and served with sides of rice and beans. Though not vegan, I sometimes order the veggie enchilada platter and love that the enchiladas are filled with chunks of fresh veggies and aren’t drowning in some gloppy bizarre cheese sauce. When ordering any platter, be sure to ask for the Mexican rice, a lovely tomato-y concoction and the black beans, floating in a savory broth. Fans of heat should also request their house-made hot sauces: green is mild and red is hotter.
The omnivores in our house have favorites too. The kids always request some sort of quesadilla, crisped to golden goodness and filled with delicious gooey cheese. They also always insist upon sides of those glorious black beans and Mexican rice. I usually ordered a steak dish, but was thrilled to see with their new menu that they offer a half veggie and half steak fajita option, so that is my new favorite. Be sure to request extra tortillas with fajitas–you will savor their warm softness and find they run out too quickly. Their steak tacos are also amazing, served traditional-style in a soft corn tortilla with cilantro and onions (you can request crispy shells if you must, lol).
The outstanding comfort food item on the menu, in my opinion, is the shrimp soup. I can recall many a sick day spent with bowls of this fantastic concoction, giving me my energy strength back. It is served as a large portion (I can usually get three servings out of one.) with tortillas, a small cup of rice, and a lime wedge. Plump little shrimp and chunks of veggies float in this amazing creamy savory broth with cilantro and spices. It’s my power soup!
So the next time you find yourself hungry in Poolesville, give Mexican Grill a try. They are open seven days a week and serve the usual drink options, as well as Jarritos and Horchata. Whether you choose to eat there or take it home, expect authentic, fresh Mexican food made with loving care from a small business, not cookie-cutter Tex-Mex from a big chain.
Mexican and Central American food is becoming a beloved part of mainstream American cuisine. What is your favorite dish?