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Chinita cooks up fresh Mexican food with flair 

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The new restaurant draws in diners with their large portions and traditional dishes

There’s nothing more addicting than chips and salsa, which is why I was eager to make a stop at Chinita, a new Mexican bar and grill in the Regal Village center said to serve plenty of the snack, along with other tasty Mexican options.

Upon entering the corner restaurant, I felt a bit concerned by the apparent lack of customers looking to enjoy some fresh Mexican cuisine. However, my worries were mitigated after receiving a bottomless bowl of Chinita’s signature chips and salsa.

After stuffing myself with the salty, spicy snack, I decided to order the chicken flautas as a starter, which were rolled in a soft pastry drizzled with ranch and served with a zesty chipotle sauce.

The chicken was tender and the vegetables gave the appetizer a great grilled flavor. The flautas were served four to a plate and meant to be shared.

Moving into the main course, I decided on a chimichanga-style burrito with guacamole, sour cream, carne asada and tomatoes. The burrito was enormous and came with a generous portion of delicious refried beans and Mexican rice.

I also caved and ordered three carnitas tacos, which were just too plain and lacked the festive colors of the grilled vegetables that were included in most of the menu’s dishes. They weren’t the tastiest item on the menu, but the carnitas were wrapped in soft, flour tortillas and drizzled with a spicy salsa that gave them a bit of a kick.

Allowing my sweet tooth to take over, I decided to indulge on the Mexican restaurant must-have: sopapillas. They were served promptly, dusted with cinnamon sugar and topped with honey.

In the middle of the plate was a scoop of ice cream doused in warm chocolate sauce that made the sopapillas the highlight of our Chinita experience, though their chips and salsa — which is served endlessly — is also a delight.

The whole meal only cost a little over $40, which was a pretty good deal for the quality and quantity of food we received.

The waiters were welcoming and offered speedy and efficient service. However, while the servers did describe some of the items on the menu, many were left without a proper explanation.

The setup of the restaurant was a bit odd, with a small section that looked like it was meant to host live Mariachi performances. The booths and decor made Chinita seem like more of a steakhouse than a Mexican grill; the location could certainly use a splash of festive colors here and there to make the restaurant’s interior suit its overall theme. Most of Chinita’s food is delicious despite the small aspects which could, and should, be improved to attract a larger audience of diners.

With a bit of relevant decor and music, it has the potential to become a real hit. All in all, Chinita offers a much-appreciated Mexican flair to the array of other restaurants in the area.

Chinita is located at 9440 W. Sahara Ave. and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. except on Fridays and Saturdays, when it is open until midnight.

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