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Published: Thursday, 8/1/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Sylvania cantina serves up Mexican with flair

BILL OF FARE
Fish tacos at Sundown Cantina. Fish tacos at Sundown Cantina.
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Intriguing ideas and effective execution come together at Sundown Cantina in Sylvania Township, creating a marriage of tastes that works far better in practice than in theory.

For example, a Mexican egg roll? How about a south-of-the-border pot pie? Sounds a little disconcerting, right?

They're on the menu at the relatively new and definitely noisy place in the Mayberry shopping plaza on Centennial Road just south of Centennial Terrace and they're unequivocal successes.

The southwest chicken egg rolls ($6.99 for six as an appetizer) are exactly what they sound like: a crispy fried dough shell wrapped around black beans, corn, chicken, and Mexican seasoning. Served with a spicy queso sauce that accents the flavors of the fillings and provides a hint of heat, these are the appetizers you've always dreamed of serving at a great party. They're just the right size to eat with your fingers and different enough to seem exotic.

Sundown Cantina ★★★

Address: 5680 Mayberry Square North, Sylvania.
Phone: 419-517-1033.
Category: Casual.
Menu: Mexican/American.
Hours: 3 p.m. to midnight Monday and Thursday; 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m; noon to midnight Sunday. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: Sundown Cantina on Facebook.

Sundown serves four different "hot pots" (think pot pie): beef or chicken fajita, southwest macaroni and cheese, chicken chorizo, and beef supreme. We ordered the chicken chorizo ($8.99), which is giant and comes with a heated flour tortilla slathered with sour cream on top.

Chorizo (a type of spicy sausage) is layered with chicken, sauce, and vegetables in a spicy melange covering a baked tortilla that serves as the base. Unless you're absolutely famished and have a bottomless appetite, this is way too much to eat in one setting, but it reheats well and is an excellent example of creative thinking leading to something beyond burritos, enchiladas, tacos, yada yada yada, that is common fare at Toledo's mostly pedestrian Mexican restaurants.

Sundown Cantina does most of those well, too, but with varying results. A ground beef taco ($1.59) was humdrum with dry meat that had probably been sitting around for awhile. Much better was a pair of bean enchiladas ($5.99), which were given an appropriate amount of cheese (translation: they were not swimming in the stuff), and featured creamy refried beans.

A side of corn black bean salsa was fresh and good for dipping.

The fish tacos ($7.99) were a nice change of pace. A chicken fajita ($12.99) was solid and served piping hot. Give Sundown Cantina props for providing four steamed tortillas with the fajita instead of the usual three that seem to be common at most local Mexican restaurants. The ratio of meat, vegetables, cheese, guacamole, lettuce and tomatoes fit the amount of tortilla shells.

A huge chicken burrito ($7.50) came with an option of a green sauce or red. We chose green and the combination of the sauce and seasoned meat gave this meal a satisfying zing that transcended the often bland nature of burritos.

Deluxe beef nachos ($5.99) made for another top-notch appetizer. A major loser was the Mexican rice, which as gummy and virtually inedible. Perhaps that was an aberration, but I didn't plan to order it again to find out.

It should be noted that the restaurant also serves burgers and other American food, none of which we tried.

Sundown Cantina bustles with activity. There is a full bar, local musicians play on the small stage, and we went on a Thursday night, which coincided with Ladies Night ($2.50 margaritas for a pair of my dining partners) and kids night. Children got a free meal with the purchase of an entree and there were enough kids there to create a serious cacophony.

Family friendly is a good thing, of course, but keep that in mind if you're looking for a quiet night out and considering Sundown Cantina. The service was exceptional and in the pantheon of value-priced Mexican restaurants in the Toledo area, Sundown is a winner.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com.



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