Rapid review: Conejito's Place
For the 10th straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, dining guides, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as voting for your "Best of Dining 2016."
Milwaukeeans seem to either love or hate Conejito's, an unintentionally kitschy hole-in-the-wall featuring made-from-scratch food that's served, primarily, on paper plates.
Those who appreciate the salty, mushy food-glops along with the fresh and crunchy offerings can't get enough. Mix in dirt cheap margaritas, attentive service and muffled Johnny Cash songs on the jukebox and for many it's a genuine "happy place."
Conejito's menu has not changed since the late José "Conejito" Garza opened the joint in 1972. It features about 10 options, including the chicken mole (made with white or dark meat and smothered in an Aztec chocolate sauce), tostadas, steak or chopped meat tacos, spare ribs, plate lunches and beef, cheese or onion enchiladas.
Huevos rancheros are served on Sunday only from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Unlike the menu, the prices have changed over the years – but not by much. A plate of four bean tacos only sets you back $3, the enchiladas are $3.95, the chicken mole $4.50-5 depending on your choice of white or dark meat and a plate of three tostadas is a mere $3.90.
"I'm not hungry for money," Garza told OnMilwaukee in 2008. At the time, he also shared why there are dead plants hanging from the ceiling, how many bottles of tequila he drinks when visited by dear friend Cheech Marin and his fondness for paper plates.
Type of food: Mexican.
Prices: As cheap as it gets.
Vegetarian friendly: The beans are made with lard, so for a 100 percent vegetarian experience, the cheese enchiladas are your best bet. Or maybe just another restaurant entirely.
Hours: Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday-Tuesday, and 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday.
Parking: There is angled street parking, but it has become less ample since Mob Craft Brewery moved onto the block this past summer. Conejito's also has a small parking lot a half-block to the south of the restaurant.
Vibe / dress: Very casual. You could go there in your pajamas and feel comfortable.
Hits: The mole is arguably the city's best and for a stellar price. The sauce is thick, sweet and spicy and smothered over a large piece of chicken (we recommend the white meat for an extra 50 cents). It comes with rice and beans and tortillas and pairs perfectly with a tangy and refreshing house margarita.
The huevos rancheros (pictured below), served only on Sundays, are exceptional as well. The poached eggs come with braised pork, rice and beans for a complete Mexican comfort food brunch experience.
We also have to shout out to the light and crunchy tostadas which come three to a plate.
Misses: Conejito's only offers one kind of tortilla, flour, and does not offer free chips and salsa. (But at just 85 cents the chips are not really a miss at all.)
Insider tip: Sometimes the food comes too quickly at Conejito's and there isn't enough time to drink in the festive, nostalgic scene. Hence, order drinks with beans and chips before your food to add time to prolong the experience. And because the beans, sprinkled with white Mexican cheese, are warm and delicious.
That's a good insider tip. I miss Conejitos - used to work 3 blocks away in Walkers Point.
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