Jane Stern: Mex on Main brings a touch of San Diego to Trumbull

Mex on Main is a place I had not previously heard of, and did not plan to stop at. I was on the way to the dermatologist in Trumbull when I noticed Mex on Main and made a mental note. After my skin had been taken care of I quickly backtracked and stopped for lunch.

From the outside I could not tell what to expect. Was Mex on Main fancy? Was it fast food? Was it one of the many Mexican chain restaurants that are to Mexican food what Olive Garden is to Italian. Once inside Mex on Main, I still could not tell what the level of food was. There is no table service or waitstaff, although there are a handful of tables with tall chairs to dine at. There is also a little patio for people who want to eat outside.

You place your order at the cash register and are given a number, when your number is called your food is given to you on a tray (or wrapped to travel for take-out orders). The menu is situated on the wall high above the counter. I found it hard to step back long enough to read the menu and then move forward fast enough to order.

Although far from fancy, the menu at Mex on Main is large and the choices are so many I would not classify it as fast food. It was slightly after one in the afternoon when I got there and the place was jumping. The clientele looked like they came from nearby businesses. Many of them did not even glance at the menu. These were “frequent flyers” who knew what they wanted before they came in.

Mex on Main

6528 Main St., Trumbull

I, on the other hand, had no clue what to order, so I started safely with guacamole and chips. It looked good and was prepared before my eyes, but the avocado was not ripe and the guacamole did not have the sensual ooze of the perfect version. It also needed salt but that was easily rectified by the many packets of salt available.

I then ordered three beef tacos on crisp corn tortillas. Having been a fan of flour tortillas for years I have come back to craving the corn ones that crunch when you bite them. The tacos were very good, and generous in size. On the side came well-seasoned rice and beans and there is a salsa bar with five different varieties to choose from. My favorite was the mango salsa, followed by the the green tomatillo.

I then ordered a Fajita Quesadilla, a meshing of two Mexican standards. This hybrid contained charbroiled chicken, fire-roasted peppers and onions, jack and cheddar cheese and an ancho chili sauce all neatly contained in a large flour tortilla. I love the idea of making the unwieldy fajita into a hand food. Maybe I should specify “large-hand food” as it was quite broad and well filled.

I was struck by how many salads were coming out of the kitchen. What impressed me was how generous they were and what nice fresh greens were used. Quite popular was the Cabo Shrimp Salad featuring chipotle peppers, grilled shrimp served over romaine lettuce, chucks of avocado, corn niblets, black beans, shredded cheeses and tortilla strips. A tangy house dressing is added. I must have seen four fly by as I waited.

Even the very hungry will be satiated by the portion size here. If you want a big lunch get the Supreme Seafood Burrito, which is a combination of shrimp, crab meat and scallops mixed with seasoned rice, shredded cheeses and a very nice enchilada sauce all stuffed into a sour-cream-smeared flour tortilla. I have eaten a lot of Mexican food in Mexico, and this dish was identical to what I loved over the border.

On the menu are platters worth getting, especially if you plan on eating in.

Chimichangas are made with shredded chicken, seasoned rice, grated cheeses all rolled in a flour tortilla that is then deep fried. This is then topped with roja sauce and Mexican crema. The first time I encountered chimichangas in Tucson I thought they were brown cigars, and honestly that is what they look like! If I am honest, I also think Greek stuffed grape leaves look like wet cigars.

Except for the unripe avocado I was impressed by the quality of the ingredients. Levels above Taco Bell, but still an easy and reasonably priced lunch. I would return. When I do, I think I would try the Cali Shrimp Tacos, soft corn tortillas stuffed with chargrilled shrimp and shredded cabbage. There is also shredded cheeses, diced avocado and Baja Sauce. This dish is a version of the glorious fish tacos served in San Diego. Personally I love shredded cabbage replacing lettuce. It adds more flavor and stays crisp longer.

One thing on the menu that made me smile was a “Side Taco,” meaning one ground beef taco that you can add on to any meal. I can’t tell you how many times I have ordered Mexican foods, and wished I could just also have a taco’ not an entire plate of tacos, just one. I applaud whomever added this treat to the menu. Very smart.