PASS CHRISTIAN -- Tico's Spanish Bar and Grill is not your average Mexican place.
Yes, it might be described as a Tex-Mex restaurant at its core, but there also is spicy Costa Rican flair. If you have a craving for such a fusion of Southwestern and Mexican cuisines, then Tico's should be on your short list.
As in so many Mexican places these days, almost as soon as you are seated a tray of crispy tortilla chips and a small bowl of salsa appear. If this is your weakness, then you may just want to stop here.
The chips are still warm, and not greasy, but it is the salsa that will get your attention. It is spicy, but not overly so, and there is a complexity and depth to this homemade salsa that is wonderful. Take your time with this appetizer and enjoy every chip and every chunky dip of salsa.
It is often a good idea when hitting an eatery for the first time to ask for a few suggestions. This time the suggestions were home runs, and although there certainly must be other items on the menu that are just as good, these selections were better than great.
The Acapulco Salad was a big surprise, and worth every penny of the $11.75 price. The crispy tortilla bowl it was served in was the perfect vessel for this big-boy-sized meal. It was filled with crisp, green lettuce, fajita chicken that was just spicy right, sautéed peppers and onions that were caramelized to the flavor-perfect point, and the tomato, cheese, and sour cream garnish balanced the whole meal in a way that could not have been better.
Next was the beef fajitas. When this dish is done right, it is delicious and soul satisfying like few other things, and you get to eat it with your hands.
Skirt steak seasoned with all the right stuff, not spicy hot, but seasoned in depth, lots of peppers and onions (who couldn't make a meal just out of them?), topped with a dab of sour cream. And, perhaps the crowning glory of all things Tex-Mex, plenty of pico de gallo and guacamole.
Tico's Spanish Bar and Grill is well worth the drive from anywhere on the Coast. The food is great.
The service is good, and you can be pretty sure the chef is going to come out and check on you. This place is serious about what they do.