Stepping into someone else's shoes can be a daunting task, but my first bite of flan from Henri's by Jorge left me feeling hopeful for the new eatery. What's traditionally an eggy custard was a creamier confection, somewhere on the road to a brule, but still offering that hint of soft burnt caramel. A cool ending to a spicy meal.
Months after the closure of Old Colorado City's 60-year staple, Henri's Mexican Restaurant, Jorge Ayala has stepped up to fill the void. Ayala has been serving Pueblo residents Mexican food at Jorge's for 25 years, and he's brought new dishes up the interstate.
I brought along a friend who had been a frequent visitor to the old Henri's before its slow decline. She immediately noticed how clean and fresh the restaurant looks. The front room, with an arched bar framed in original tiles, is inviting; a brightly painted back dining room depicts snapshots of Mexican life with colorful murals.
The all-day menu offers what you'd expect of traditional Mexican plates, including breakfast selections. Henri's also serves "Americano" offerings of burgers and chicken sandwiches.
My friend chose the grilled fajita salad ($9.50), with choice of chicken, beef or shrimp, grilled red onions and peppers on a bed of lettuce with avocado and pico de gallo. The pico de gallo proved the talking point; the combination of finely chopped tomato, onion, cilantro and jalapeo kicked up with red pepper flakes.
My cheese and chicken enchilada plate ($7.75) arrived looking as I had imagined it, a dish of contradictions: fluffy Spanish rice and salad on one side and two enchiladas swimming in a sea of melted cheese and green chili on the other. After a bite of salad, I could almost hear my body asking, "What's the point of this? Get back to that smothered shredded chicken and tortilla!" I was satisfied, and there was plenty to take home.
At dinner, my husband and I couldn't pass up the recommended Grand Tivo ($7.50), a traditional margarita with a hint of Grand Marnier. There are definitely no problems at the bar.
We selected the combination plate ($11) of cheese enchilada, tostada, tamale and chorizo taco. The deliciously spicy ground chorizo taco, with smoky-sweet cumin tucked into a handmade tortilla shell, outshined the rest; the combination of green and red chili was a bit salty this time.
Lacking the commercial flair of a sizzling skillet, my steak and shrimp fajitas ($13.25) were filling but not exceptional. I ordered the flan to go and was glad I did. It's definitely a must-try.
Aside from nearly forgetting the sopapilla that was to accompany my husband's meal (it wound up in a to-go box, when it would have been best eaten hot), service was for the most part attentive and friendly on both visits.
Judging by how glad my friend was to see the place open again, and by watching the tables fill, it appears the locals appreciate what they have. Henri's by Jorge offers competently cooked, affordable Mexican fare with some truly bright spots. firstname.lastname@example.org
Henri's by Jorge
2427 W. Colorado Ave., 634-9031
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.