Chevys Fresh Mex
Surprisingly good chain fare
by Dawn Keable
1376 Bald Hill Road, Warwick, 823-4700
Open daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. Fri-Sat.
Major credit cards
It's something that many Rhode Islanders begin grappling with every year around
Thanksgiving. Sooner or later, if you have any hopes of finishing your holiday
shopping, you'll have to venture to the state's strip mall mecca, Route 2 in
Warwick. But this year, Chevys Fresh Mex offers a good choice for rejuvenation
after endless traffic jams and fights for parking spots.
Set in the Bald Hill Road location that used to house an East Side Mario's,
this bright new dining spot is the first Chevys in the Northeast for its San
Francisco-based operators. My husband, Andre, and I recently stopped in for
dinner after a frazzled Saturday spent shopping, of course, to test their
pledge of a can-free kitchen, where everything is made from scratch.
With high ceilings and overhead fans, the restaurant's interior has the same
airy warehouse feel of its predecessor. But with different brightly colored
cloths on each table, Spanish names identifying the bar, bathrooms and kitchen,
and Latin jazz playing on the sound system, there was no mistaking what type of
cuisine would be served in this festive atmosphere. Granted, the ambience might
have felt a little contrived with prominently displayed maracas, sombreros and
Mexican blankets, but we would soon discover that the food was far from typical
Once seated, we were approached by three different servers. As we waited for
them to pinpoint whose jurisdiction we were in, we munched on a complimentary
basket of tortilla chips and a delicious homemade salsa flavored with cilantro
and onions. To wash the chips down, Andre sampled a fresh fruit margarita
($4.50). The featured fruit of the season, cranberry, was mixed with whipped
cream and served with a wedge of lime, for a drink that was very tart, smooth
and loaded with fruit pulp.
Our Mexican feast officially began with a tasty order of chicken taquitos
($5.99). The appetizer featured six wraps of mildly spicy chopped chicken
rolled in crisp red corn tortillas. Artfully arranged with corn husks in a
circular pattern around mixed greens and a side of sweet jalapeno jelly, the
starter was as pleasing to our eyes as it was to our appetites.
Chevys offers an extensive selection of fajitas for main courses. Andre
selected Plato Gordo ($13.99). The giant sizzling platter was heaped with jumbo
shrimp, baby back ribs, mesquite grilled chicken breast and strips of skirt
steak. As a self-proclaimed rib expert, my spouse's only complaint was the lack
of meat on the ribs. But he had plenty of vegetables, including red peppers,
onions, summer squash, zucchini, scallions and carrots, to help make up for
I went with the tropical chicken ($10.99). The tender mesquite grilled chicken
breast, marinated in pineapple juices for a burst of fruity flavor, was
complemented by pineapple tidbits, along with slices of green peppers and
onions. My plate included a guacamole-filled tortilla cup and a serving, just
small enough to make me for more, of sweet corn tomalito, a kernel-laden
concoction that tasted like corn muffin batter.
Our entrees were served with sides of Mexican rice and a choice of black or
refried beans. (In the only mistake of the night, our bean orders were mixed
up. But it wasn't a big problem -- we didn't even notice until halfway through
the meal that we weren't eating exactly what we had ordered. And by then, we
didn't want to switch.) If that wasn't enough, our meals included sides of
guacamole, sour cream, garden greens, pico de gallo and wonderfully soft
tortillas for custom wraps. We easily had more than enough left over for
And if dinner was good, dessert was off the chart. Coconut cajeta ($4.50)
featured four scoops of rich vanilla ice cream, rolled in toasted coconut, and
topped with a homemade caramel sauce spiked with cinnamon, whipped cream and
cactus-shaped tortillas. The double chocolate sopapillas ($3.99) were flaky
fried chocolate tortilla pillows, topped with Mexican chocolate and powdered
sugar. My dessert was so massive that I could have shared it with the next
table -- had I been able to stop eating it.
Not only is Chevys a great stop to refuel, it also could help with some of
your shopping. With the purchase of a gift certificate, customers receive a
pinata. Now won't that liven up your holiday celebration?