Until recently, I was sure that a place like Los Amigos existed only in midnight dreams or ingenious schemes that are concocted in the shower and soon forgotten.
But at a small colorful building on Victory Drive just a little south of downtown, you could eat a shrimp burrito while someone removes the bugs stuck to your front bumper. Tuck away tacos while someone details your tires. Scarf down quesadillas while someone suds up your hood.
At Los Amigos Carwash and Food (3369 Victory Drive) the dream is real.
The menu includes a little bit of everything. You’ll see burgers, wings and Philly cheesesteak but a large portion is devoted to Mexican items like tortas, tostadas, quesadillas, burritos and fajitas.
The La Cazuela ($7.99), a special on the menu when we visited earlier this week, came to the table bubbling on a large fajita plate. The steak, chicken and chorizo (a type of pork sausage) were covered in cheese and came with three flour tortillas off to the side.
The meats were well-seasoned. The yellow and white queso blanketed the dish and some clung to the bottom of the plate.
The steak was tender and a little crispy at the edges. It didn’t at all feel like the tough, chewy shoe leather that is sometimes called steak at other Mexican places. The chicken peeled apart at the touch of a fork. The chorizo added a salty and spicy element to the cheesy entree.
It was even better on the hot and fresh tortillas which added some needed dough and fluff to the heavy meal. They also make a great vehicle to collect any cheese that’s just sitting by itself. I was quickly full and left Los Amigos with leftovers.
The flautas ($4.99), another special listed on the menu during our visit, were a great deal. The four rolled crispy chicken tacos came topped with lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream, crumbled cheese, jalapenos and avocado.
It was a mound of food and corners of taco shells peeked out from underneath the toppings. Mike Haskey, the Ledger-Enquirer’s video extraordinaire, was gracious enough to share one with me. The lettuce and avocado were fresh, and the tacos themselves were fried golden brown. Inside the crispy shells were soft shredded chicken. It seemed like a staple dish that a diner could order each time and still enjoy it.
The beef burrito lunch combo ($5.99) features one of the best burritos I’ve had topped with gooey queso. The beef has a more balanced flavor. Notes of chili and cumin were present but not overpowering. There’s a little spiciness but the sweeter notes are the ones that really catch your taste buds.
It would take another burrito or two to figure out exactly what’s causing it, and I’m willing to continue that investigation.
The rice was fluffy and the pinto beans came with peppers and onions. The beans had a little smokiness too — the kind that comes with the addition of bacon. Those sides, often afterthoughts or throwaways at other Mexican restaurants, made for nice additions. Nothing cold or bland here.
And before you ask, yes, I did get my car washed. There are several options including a full detail hand wash ($65.00) that is only offered Monday to Wednesday, according to the menu. You might want to call and make an appointment for that.
I opted for the drive-thru express wash ($8) which included tire cleaning. My Toyota Yaris, unwashed for several months, had been through the spring pollen and several long distance road trips. The car, at this point, was more brown and yellow than it was black.
The car wash’s entry is towards the back of the building near the parking. It’s hard to miss. Before the wash began, an employee hosed the car off and cleaned the tires and the backs of the side mirrors. I put the car in park as the soap and machines did their work.
I pulled out of Los Amigos with a full belly and a clean car. What else could you want?
Los Amigos Carwash and Food
Address: 3369 Victory Drive
Restaurant: Monday-Friday: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Car wash: Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.