Opinion: ‘Caliente’ earns one thumbs up, one thumbs down


While Caliente’s options are generally “muy bueno,” some miss the mark.

Caliente, one of the new dining venues in the Worth Hills Multipurpose Building, offers burritos, taco bowls and a variety of specialty tacos.

Curiously, the restaurant also offers a typically Mediterranean dish: the “Gyro of the Day,” featuring lamb or beef on a pita bread with lettuce and tomato. Why gyros are sold at a Mexican restaurant is a bit baffling, but who is complaining?

The lamb gyro is surprisingly delicious. While the meat at Market Square can be hit-or-miss, the meat in the gyro was surprisingly tender, moist and delicious.

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If you are looking for a low-calorie dish, the gyro is not for you. A better bet would be the taco bowl, but avoid the taco shell. Get a salad, which can be complimented with a wide variety of rice, beans, cheeses, salsas and sauces.

To keep the calorie count low, skip the beans, cheese and heavy sauces; and go light on the rice. Feel free to load up on the meat and veggies. Play around with the salsas on this salad for new tastes.

If you are the adventurous type, try one of the Chef’s Supreme Signature Tacos. One standout, the Red Rooster, consists of “achiote chicken, grilled corn pico, cotija cheese, [and] cilantro lime crema,” according to the menu. Adding in some Spanish rice and baked beans creates a splendidly messy, fat taco.

However, the flavor doesn’t match the impressiveness of this taco’s size. With a name like “Caliente,” I expected the chicken to be a bit spicier. But if spicy food isn’t your forte, buy this taco. If you prefer spicy food, consider adding some “Beg for Mercy” habanero salsa.

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While the taco’s insides were a bit disappointing, the house-made tortillas were fresh and delicious. The venue’s glass windows allow customers to peek into the kitchen and watch the tortillas cook, which ups the anticipation. Tortilla-quality can make or break a taco, and these earned the taco a win despite the flavor’s lack of punch.

Other signature tacos include the “Texas,” the “South of the Border” and the “South Padre.” Next time you need some comfort food, try the “South of the Border.” It includes sliced brisket, house coleslaw, pickled onions and lime crema.

The restaurant has some good choices and some you could skip. Is it worth a second trip? Yes, but despite its name, Caliente’s food is not exactly “caliente.” Lukewarm, perhaps — but not hot.