Having had such a great experience with Mexican at La Fondita Mexican in Ottawa, Illinois, we decided to do Mexican another night as well while in this small town. This time, we found ourselves at Jardines.
Jardines is a huge Mexican restaurant in downtown Illinois. What really makes it stick out is its decor as you will find an array of random decorations such as fake plants and flowers, fountains, murals featuring Mexicans and their territories, and paper streamers. There isn't a color that isn't in this restaurant giving it a warm, happy-go-lucky feel! We were seated in the main dining area near other large groups that we knew.
As is standard, we were served the complimentary chips and salsa except that there were very few chips and a note on the menu that each basket of chips would be $1.50. That's a downer as we gobbled up the chips in no time. The salsa was pretty good.
And, of course, we all got margaritas. Yum.
I called ahead to this restaurant to ensure that there were vegan options and they were very nice. They stated that did not use an animal broth in their rice nor did they use lard in their beans so that they could serve vegetarians. Nice! As usual, I went with the fajitas, but this restaurant really surprised me. They offered three types of vegan fajitas: roasted veggies, cactus, or soy chorizo. Wow! It was a really hard choice, but I went with the soy chorizo. The soy chorizo was cooked with tomatoes, peppers, and onions and served lettuce, tomato, rice, and beans. It was good, but dry and way too filling. I could only eat half of the soy chorizo and wished, in the end, I had ordered the roasted veggies as I'm more of a veggie kind of person. But, it was still pretty good.
The service was a bit slow, but that was probably because there weren't many people working and there was a large party in the dining room. The fajitas were $12.95, which was pretty expensive for this little town, but not overpriced. And the food was good with several options for vegans. Next time I come back, I'm trying the roasted veggies or cactus!
711 LaSalle Street
Ottawa, IL 61350