Owner and namesake Abel Del Real presents a couple of plates of good-looking grub at Abel's Mexican Restaurant.
Owner and namesake Abel Del Real presents a couple of plates of good-looking grub at Abel's Mexican Restaurant.

Abel Del Real has history when it comes to serving Mexican food in Northern Nevada. In 2000, he opened El Adobe on West Arroyo Street with a partner. In 2006, his partner bought him out, but another eatery was in his mind. He and his brother started La Posada Real on Longley Lane, and his brother is still running it. Abel’s dream for his own el comedor was achieved last October, when this Verdi establishment opened. His original cook from El Adobe, Jose “Chema” Munguia, is in the kitchen, and Abel has the front-of-the-house duties.

It’s easy to find, and with the warm weather, I’m always up for a short drive to find exceptional food. You can see it from the highway. It’s exit 5 off I-80 west, and there’s plenty of parking. Inside, it’s a cantina-style restaurant with seating for more than 200, and there’s a patio for outside dinning as well. The staff is polite and fast. Breakfast ($4.50-$11.96), lunch ($9.95-$12.95) and dinner ($6.95-$13.95) are served, with a kid’s menu and a variety of American dishes as well.

Fresh chips and two salsas are immediately brought to the table. The red is flavorful with a hint of clove on the nose making it savory with a touch of sweet and mild heat. The green is a whole other story. The nose smacks of earthy peppers and the bite will open your sinus. The habanera peppers sent my taste buds into overdrive, my eyes watered, and it took my breath away—that’s what I call salsa!

I needed water, but Abel brought his top-shelf margarita ($8.50) with Patron Silver and a Grand Mainer float atop—beyond smooth. Water came, too. There’s a full bar and happy hour from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. There are several domestic and imported beers ($3.00-$3.50), wine-by-the-glass ($5), and a variety of soft drinks including Jarritos.

Abel’s masterpiece ($12.95), the Apalancate plate, was the entrée: a chile relleno, a shrimp enchilada and a carnitas taco. There’s a choice of black, pinto or refried beans, and the dish is served with a fresh Spanish rice dotted with flecks of red and green peppers. The chile relleno was lightly breaded and pan-fried with Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese melted inside an Anaheim pepper. It had a mild taste, with the cheeses accenting the green chili flavor nicely.

The shrimp enchilada had plenty of shrimp in a tomatillo sauce, wrapped in a corn tortilla covered with a light green chile sauce and some Jack cheese. The shrimp were not overcooked, and the green tomato essence flavor from the tomatillo blended well offering a seafood flavor with a slightly tart, savory taste.

The carnitas taco was outstanding in the soft, corn tortilla. The slow-roasted pork was seasoned with just the right amount of oregano, onion and red pepper, and served almost dry to highlight the succulent flavor and perfectly spiced meat.

Abel wouldn’t let me get away without his fried ice cream ($5.25) for dessert. A large scoop of vanilla coated with corn flakes, quickly deep-fried and placed in a fried white flour tortilla covered with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. It was simple, elegant and fun. Eating Abel’s authentic Mexican food is comforting and flavorful on the palate and very filling to the stomach. Mexican food is an acquired taste for some, but for others, it’s an immediate love and sometimes even an obsession. I’m obsessed.

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