Stick with Flutie Garcia's Tex-Mex Flutie Garcia's


I know why you want my job. You think it's because restaurant critics get paid to eat at all the best restaurants. But the real job satisfaction comes when the waitress tells you, after you've been waiting 45 minutes for your main course, that "somehow the check has been misplaced, the kitchen never got it" and could you tell her again what you wanted.

Then she leaves without taking any of your dirty dishes, and she doesn't bring you the water you asked for, and your main courses arrive half an hour later.

Here comes the job satisfaction: You could look her in the eye, smile a pleasant smile and say, "I'm your worst nightmare."

But then you realize her eyes are all red and puffy. She's clearly been crying and maybe her boss has already been hollering at her. So you don't say anything. You just note that the service is a bit ragged at Towson's newest Mexican cantina, Flutie Garcia's.

This is an attractive restaurant and bar, decorated in sunny desert colors, with an outdoor dining area in back and a balcony upstairs scheduled to open soon.

The food at Flutie Garcia's is gourmet Tex-Mex, an oxymoron if ever there was one. By that I mean you can get portobello mushroom fajitas and peppered salmon and goat cheese quesadillas as well as classic burritos and enchiladas with Spanish rice and refried beans.

So how is the food? Well, the complimentary tortilla chips came ** with a fresh-tasting tomato salsa and a creamy green salsa that was so good I wouldn't let anyone else at the table have any. But some of the chips themselves were soggy with grease. The jalapeno poppers -- crisply fried peppers stuffed with a creamy cheese filling -- were fabulous. But you could only describe the jicama and orange salad with canned mandarin orange slices and no discernible dressing as tasteless.

Flutie Garcia's chicken fajita quesadillas are hard to beat, full of tender strips of chicken, sauteed red and green peppers and Cheddar and jack cheeses. I would stick with the Tex-Mex fare, which the kitchen does very well. Not that the more ambitious dishes are bad, but the tuna steak with lime and jalapeno butter was grilled a little longer than I like, and the grilled vegetables had such a strong marinade that none of the vegetable flavors came through. Excellent Spanish rice, though.

Flutie Garcia's has sorbet for dessert, which is probably all you're going to be able to manage. (Portions are huge.) But if your sweet tooth gets the better of you, there's a flan with the texture of cheesecake and an enormous sundae made with fried tortillas, ice cream, bananas, chocolate, caramel sauce and whipped cream.

Where: 418 York Road

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-midnight

Credit cards accepted: Major credit cards

Features: Southwestern food

Non-smoking section? Yes

Call: (410) 296-2400

Prices: appetizers, $2.95-$6.95; entrees, $5.25-$15.95

** 1/2

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