Cheap Eats

$10 Lunch: Cielito Lindo

The deal: This long-standing restaurant serves Tex-Mex-inspired dishes in a quaint setting that looks like a Mexican cottage. It's named after a classic Mexican tune played by Mariachi bands and not the famous Los Angeles restaurant. The Lighthouse Point location is now closed, but this Cielito Lindo on 44th St. (East Prospect Road) and the one in Pompano (600 S. Dixie Highway) are still in business.

What you get: The daily lunch specials feature enchiladas, mini chimichangas, fajitas, and burritos along with Latin/Cuban dishes like masas de puerco, chicken and steak palomilla, and ropa vieja. Each checks in under $10 and comes with either refried beans and Spanish rice or white rice and black beans, plus soup to start. Chips and salsa are complimentary, natch.  

We tried: Most of the menu is the ubiquitous stuff you'll find

in any South Florida Mexican restaurant, but Cielito Lindo does a decent

job with the formula. The masas de puerco, thick hunks of pork

marinated in garlic and fried, are largely crisp outside and moist

inside -- but one of our three big pork chunks was dried out and

dessicated. Enchiladas and burritos come smothered in gooey cheese and

thick sauce that's been run under a broiler (they use a typical ranchero

sauce for chicken and a gravy-like brown sauce for steak). Lunch-sized

chimichangas are small but filling. The chips and salsa are good, with

vibrant, bright-tasting salsa in hot or mild varieties. The soup you

get before each meal is a forgettable chicken soup with noodles --

not my favorite.

Bonus points: Despite some

inconsistencies, the price is right, and they know the value of a quick

lunch. You can get in and out in under 30 minutes if you like or sit

and talk with friends until the rush subsides.

Cielito Lindo
91 E, Prospect Road, Oakland Park 33334

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John Linn