There’s a nice surprise to be found on an otherwise predictable stretch of Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills. Su Casa Restaurant and Grill is one of those little gems that offers lots of enticing food at likewise enticing prices, and makes you feel glad you stopped by.
This recent arrival, focusing on traditional Mexican and Latin American dishes, has set ambitious daily hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. I haven’t sampled breakfast, but it’s cool to know you can head here for such things as huevos rancheros or a Colombian favorite, bandeja paisa (eggs, steak, etc.), in the morning.
A stark counter near the kitchen strikes an unappealing, utilitarian note, but earthen tones and a folk-art mural give the restaurant a welcoming touch.
The night my pals and I ventured in, a quick and smiling welcome from staffers warmed things up even more. So did their assistance as we prepared our own margaritas (Su Casa is BYOB). And so did sounds of Latin pop music — I always perk up when a restaurant plays music that matches the cuisine.
From course to course, we found the kitchen to be consistently attentive to flavor, freshness and presentation.
Su Casa’s chicken tortilla soup arrived at a truly hot temperature, not tepid, as is often the case even in up-market restaurants. Adding to the appeal, the soup contained abundant chicken and veggies in a mildly spiced broth, and the tortilla strips had a good crunch.
That wasn’t the only strong starter. Camarones Cancun — gently fried shrimp resting on a lettuce bed and covered with a creamy chili sauce — also satisfied. Same for the thick, beef-filled empanda, which offered an effective kick.
The soft corn taco option we tried for a main course was one containing nicely roasted pork. The chicken chimichanga seemed more baked than deep-fried in texture, a disappointment eased by the very tasty, massive filling of meat, rice, beans, cheese and pico de gallo.
And if the steak fajitas arrived minus the expected noisy sizzle (the plate had calmed down in the kitchen while the rest of the order was being assembled), the payoff was the vigorous grilled taste of the mostly tender beef.
We could have made a meal out of the Mexican rice and beans that accompanied some of the main dishes and revealed a refreshingly light taste. I found a side order of plantain slices irresistible, too.
No rational person would require dessert after all of this, but, sacrificing as I do just for your sake, I dug into three of Su Casa’s sweet-tooth magnets.
You can’t go wrong with the expertly prepared flan, which delivers a nuanced caramel flavor. But you might as well go for total indulgence and order the xango — a cheesecake wrapped in a tortilla that’s delectably fried and arrives, still warm, partnered with lush French vanilla ice cream. A divine combination.
A big dish of that same fabulous ice cream is the base of another dessert that comes adorned with delicate sopapillas (fried dough dusted with cinnamon), not to mention strawberries and whipped cream.
As you waddle back to your car after dinner, you’ll be wishing you had mastered the art of self-restraint. But you’ll be smiling.
11316 Reisterstown Road, Owings Mills
Prices: Appetizers $6.95 to $8.95; entrees $7.95 to $18.95
Ambience: The dining area is designed simply, comfortably. Spanish pop music plays unobtrusively. Four silent TVs are tuned to Spanish-language channels.
Service: Pleasant and efficient
Special diets: They can be accommodated.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Need to know: This is a BYOB restaurant.