San Leandro Reviews
Update: This restaurant has closed after a fire.
If you ask me, if there is one thing San Leandro does not need is a new Mexican restaurant. An Indian restaurant, a Thai restaurant, not to mention a French or even a good Italian restaurant would be a Godsend, but we have Mexican restaurants coming out of the wazoo. This is not to say that when a new Mexican restaurant opened in the old space for Dino's, we weren't willing to give it a try.
Dino's was a cheap but mediocre Italian restaurant that had probably been at its location on E. 14th St. for ages. Unfortunately, it was located right next to the slightly-more expensive, equally mediocre and yet more popular Strizzi's, so it's not too surprising it finally went under (at least I imagine it went under, one day it was closed and soon thereafter the sign "Tequila Grill coming soon" appeared in its window). Given our experience Friday night, I wouldn't be surprised if Tequila Grill went under relatively soon as well.
We decided to chance dinner at Tequila Grill on a Friday night at around 8 PM, after a walk at the Marina had worked wonders to put Michaela to sleep. At that time, only one or two tables were occupied and only one other party came in during the hour we were there. The owners/managers seemed surprised to see us come in, but we were soon shown to a booth. The decor does not seem to have changed much since it was Dino's and there is really nothing distinctive to it; the most you can say for it is that it looks and feels like a pleasant, and quiet, family restaurant. Service was also pretty good; our waitress was very nice and friendly and took my husband's weird sense of humor well.
The food, however, is what really matters and in that Tequila Grill was lacking. The menu is standard Tex-Mex fare, sprinkled with a few more Mexican dishes (e.g. pollo en mole) and a few American ones. Prices are in line with those of most family restaurants in San Leandro, with only a few dishes approaching the mid-teens. Ordinary (but hot) tortilla chips are served with a very-spicy and otherwise unremarkable salsa.
Mike and I decided to share an appetizer of queso fundido; the melted cheese was pretty good. Mike then ordered a combination dish of a carnitas flauta and a carne asada burrito while I ordered the New York steak. Both dishes came with cold refried beans and Mexican rice; they weren't offensive but they were plain and boring. They also took most of the room on the dish, not quite disguising the fact that the entrees were pretty small. Mike thought his flauta was very small but he liked the carnitas. The burrito had extremely-small meat pieces (not quite ground, but almost), but they were pretty tasty. He wouldn't order the dish again, however. My steak was pretty small and thin. I had ordered it medium rare but not surprisingly given how thin it was, it was served medium. It was covered by tomatoes and onions, and it wasn't bad though it could have been more tender. The accompanying fries were pretty good, though not particularly remarkable.
By the middle of our meal the baby had started fussing, so we didn't stay for dessert (I think only three are offered, flan, 3-leches cake and something else). The meal, after taxes and before the tip, came to about $36 (this included two sodas and a beer). We thought this a little steep given how mediocre the food was - we wouldn't go back, and given the plethora of better Mexican restaurants around, we won't have to.
1350 E. 14th St.
I went back for lunch to Tequila Grill in March 2007 with my friend Aamani. Tequila Grill has a short lunch menu, specializing in regular hot sandwiches, but the full menu is also available for lunch. As some of the a la carte items are not too expensive ($4-8), we decided to choose from that part of the menu. Aamani got a steak quesadilla. It was loaded with meat and she found it quite tasty though underseasoned. She liked the rice that came with it. I got a shredded beef taco, two chicken flautas and a portion of guacamole. Everything was fine but everything was bland. I liked the guacamole, which had nice chunks of avocado, and the small portion (~$5) was very generous, but it was in dire need of some lime and salt. The taco had an astronomical amount of beef, but it was undersalted and pretty dry. It needed some wet element to balance it out. Finally, the flautas also suffered from a lack of seasoning, though the sour cream and guacamole at least helped from having them be too dry. In all, the meal was fine though not outstanding. I'm not sure I'll be rushing back.