Is there room in North Miami-Dade for another quick-serve Mexican place? Tijuana Flats thinks so.
The newcomer boasts insanely hot sauces and an interior that looks like it was designed by Wynwood wall artists.
The food? Filling and cheap, but not that much different from the other places: black and refried beans, yellow cheese, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes, chicken cubes, steak.
The quality? No cans, no microwaves and a variety of free extras including onions, black olives and jalapeños.
The menu? The usual lineup of burritos, chimichangas, tacos, quesadillas, tostados, enchiladas, flautas and bowls.
The nachos are the most fun because everyone can share from the takeout container. Chips are piled with cheese and lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes and a choice of beef, chicken, steak, carnitos or beans.
The same ingredient choices get stuffed into the enchiladas, sprawling corn tortillas ladled with either chipotle red sauce or spicier verde. The concoction filled the container, and yes, we ate the whole enchilada.
The fish tacos are loaded with strips of spicy grilled grouper, cabbage, pico and a citrus marinade. Dip the side chips in the sauce and feel the flavors burst.
Tijuana Flats tries to separate itself from the rest of the Mex mix with a bar stocked with saucily named sauces. (We wonder if the sign that bans kids from the area is meant to keep them away from the labels or the ingredients.)
Four flat-screen TVs also helped pass the 15 minutes or so until a server brought out our bags. Nice touches included already-packed plastic utensils and labeled containers. Not so nice a touch: We got home to discover half the order missing. An apologetic manager offered to drive to our home with the rest of the food.
That kind of personal attention, with an order taker patiently explaining choices and ingredients, is what seems to set Tijuana Flats apart.
Tijuana Flats, 13256 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami (also Hollywood, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Fort Lauderdale); 305-981-7528; nachos $6.69-$8.69, burritos, tacos, chimichangas, quesadillas, enchiladas $4.99-$8.89.