By Ellen Oliver
The longtime mexican restaurant on the Sudbury/Maynard line, which closed its doors earlier this year, reopened in September with a new menu, new kitchen, but the same dedication to margaritas.
The restaurant’s layout didn’t change, but the decor is muted and simplified, away from the previous southwestern atmosphere. The biggest facelift was to the menu – there’s nary a burrito or fajita in sight. Billed online as “classic American cuisine with a Tex-Mex twist,” there are quesadillas and tacos, but they are alongside pulled pork sliders, Angus burgers, jambalaya pasta and thai lettuce wraps.
We began by testing the hallmark of the former Sierras, ordering two margaritas, 17 ounces available straight up, on the rocks or frozen (all nine flavors $9 each). The Sierra’s Margarita is still a classic, flavorful and strong. The Fuego Mango Margarita featured a house habanero tequila, which added a nice kick to the tangy drink.
The appetizers exemplified Sierra’s quest to expand its borders with selections from Fried Calamari ($9), Tex Mex Eggs Rolls ($10) and Crabmeat Wontons ($7) next to Beef Pimienta ($11) and Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings ($9).
We went with another classic, nachos, available with cheese, chili, chicken or pulled pork ($8/$10). Our order of cheese-only nachos were served on a manageable plate and while the dish received a thumbs-up for flavor, the toppings of guacamole, salsa and sour cream didn’t quite extend through the appetizer. The upper layers of cheese were gooey, however, we discovered sprinkles of unmelted cheese as we dug in.
Although there were plenty of selections of burgers and American and Italian entrees, our diners seemed to be drawn to Sierras original Tex-Mex mission. Since there are four quesadillas on the menu (steak, chicken, mushroom and lobster as an appetizer), ranging from $13-$16 for the entrees, we tried the Coyote quesadilla, the chicken selection ($14).
These quesadillas are not what you make for your elementary school picky eater. Requiring a knife and fork, the entree was two large flour tortillas with a hearty serving of blackened chicken, green chilies, refried beans and chipotle mayo on the side (not listed on the menu). The mayo was spicy and we found a light layer enhanced the mix of chicken and vegetables held together with the right amount of cheese.
The traditional chimichanga is still on the menu for $15 for two, but is available with only chicken (we recalled a nice touch from the previous menu was the ability to select two stuffings – chicken, beef or bean, on one order). The chimichangas was not greasy and a manageable size to fill our diner and have leftovers for the next day.
We also ordered the very good blackened spicy Fish Tacos with pineapple salsa ($14). Featuring fried or blackened catfish the two tacos were served with a choice of sides (jasmine rice, grilled asparagus, sweet potato fries and slaw among the choices). We had the handcut fries which were deemed thick and tasty.
We did take Sierras lead and go off the Tex-Mex path to try the Baby Back Ribs ($17). The ribs were falling off the bone and the bbq sauce wasn’t too sweet. The side of grilled asparagus was especially tasty, nicely toasted.
Our waitress said the menu is still evolving with new items being added frequently and we hope that extends to the dessert and beer menus. For desserts, there were three selections; a flourless chocolate cake, Boston cream pie and two flavors of gelato. We targeted the chocolate cake, a dense lightly sweetened concoction and were very happy with it, but when it comes to dessert, more choices are always tempting.
The draft beer choices ($4 each) were slim (Harpoon IPA, Sam Seasonal and Monsta Ale), but there’s a long list of domestic ($4.50) and imported bottled beers ($4.95), including Corona, Tecate and Dos Equis Amber.
There’s also a full bar and specialty non-margarita cocktails, including a Route 117 Cosmo ($10), a Merry Mai Tai ($10) and red and white sangria ($8 each). There are also a few standard red and white wine selections.
With several televisions in the compact bar, Sierras would be a good place to grab a drink and eat
twenty-five cent chicken wings during NFL games. But if you want to catch the game and eat in the dining room, the televisions are confined to the bar area, visible from only parts of the dining room.
Before you decide to return to Sierras or try it for the first time, you can check out the menu online at www.sierrasrestaurant.com, however the in-restaurant menu varied slightly.
Overall the owners have returned with an emphasis on appealing to a wider audience by combining their core Tex-Mex flair with more expected, but well-crafted, American fare. Even a group with a variety of preferences or picky eaters will find something to like at the new Sierras.