A lush, outdoor patio wraps around the entrance to Si Casa Flores in Grants Pass. Beautiful blooming plants and a large outdoor fountain provide a calm retreat, and the first hint of warm weather will find the patio filled with diners.
Massive wooden doors with textured-glass inserts provide an impressive entry to the restaurant, and colorful wall decorations and hand-painted furniture offer a cheerful backdrop for dining.
The restaurant was opened by Manuel Flores, who emigrated from Mexico to Grants Pass in 1982. His motto is give diners freshly prepared traditional Mexican food with flair in a welcoming environment.
As we perused the extensive menu, a waiter brought warm tortilla chips, homemade salsa and refried bean dip to my table. The chips were thin, light and not at all greasy. I could eat the whole bowlful and still feel convinced I’m sticking to my diet.
For large dinner parties — or big appetites — the appetizer menu provides lots of choices: including nachos, quesadillas with meat, shrimp or cheese, and ceviche. One intriguing appetizer is the Hongos a la Diabla, spicy mushrooms in hot sauce. I’m a fan of spicy, and I made a mental note to try this appetizer next time I visit.
The restaurant touts a full-service bar that serves 31 flavored margaritas and four types of rum drinks. There’s also imported and domestic beer. House wine is available in half for full carafes, along with homemade Sangria.
The restaurant’s entrees include quite a few chicken dishes. Two that interested me were Pollo Mole — chicken in sweet and spicy Mexican sauce — and Pollo Borracho, or drunk chicken — white chicken pieces marinated in tequila and Mexican spices, then sauteed with onions, mushrooms and green peppers.
The menu’s Jalisco Specials offer some of the usual crowd pleasers: pork, steak, chicken or shrimp fajitas served sizzling hot over beds of sauteed onions and green peppers with pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole, and carne asada with its slices of skirt steak cooked over charcoal and served with guacamole and broiled green onions.
The seafood section of the menu offers more than 20 dishes featuring fish, shrimp, crab or scallops.
Crab enchiladas sounded enticing, as did the Platillo de Mazatlan — sauteed fish, shrimp and chicken covered with white cheese and served on a bed of rice with sliced avocado, tomato, mushrooms, onions and sour cream.
I chose the flautas ($13.95) listed under Si Casa Flores favorites. The meal consisted of three flour tortillas filled with chicken, topped with guacamole, sour cream, tomatoes and onions, and served with rice and beans.
My dining companion chose one of the small combination meals: two chicken enchiladas with rice and beans ($11.50).
The handmade tortillas used to make the flautas were flavorful, as was the shredded chicken inside. Combined with the guacamole and sour cream, they were quite tasty. My friend felt her enchiladas needed more sauce.
Our dessert choices are flan, ice cream, sopapillas, a deep-fried apple burrito or Xango cheesecake (a flour tortilla filled with cheesecake, fried and served with scoop of ice cream). We each chose flan ($6.25), which was served with whipped cream. Mexican flan is heavier than American flan, and its flavor and texture are heartier.
Si Casa Flores is at 202 N.E. Beacon Drive, Grants Pass. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. New summer hours start before the end of May. Call 541-956-9254 for information.