By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Dec 04, 2006 at 11:05 AM
I checked out Hector's in Bay View last night, and despite the apparent lack of Latino diners, waitstaff or even music in this new Mexican restaurant -- the food was great.

I'll defer a full-on restaurant review to a more qualified writer, but I can say this:  the Carne Asada tacos I ordered were pretty much the best I've had in Milwaukee and actually reminded me of the barbeque my friend Raoul from Hermosillo prepared one time in Phoenix.  They were that good -- delicious guacamole with perfectly seasoned steak.  Three tacos weren't enough.

To drink, I ordered my favorite Mexican cocktail, the Michelada, which is a lesser-known drink in these parts (beer, lime, Tabasco sauce and salt).  Some local restaurants like Taqueria Azteca know how to make it and even put it on their menus.  The bartender at Hector's had never heard of it, however he was anxious -- even adamant -- about giving it a whirl.  I brought up a recipe on my Blackberry and showed it to the waitress.  Surprisingly, he got it right on the first try (I'll deliver my manifesto another time about how the Michelada is gonna be the next big thing in Milwaukee ).

In terms of ambience, I found the décor at Hector's South, 3040 S. Delaware Ave., a little puzzling.  It felt more Key West than Mexico, but not in an off-putting sort of way.  The restaurant sports the obligatory Mexican neon beer signs, but also a smattering of surfboards that accent the teal walls.  Instead of your typical traditional music, we heard The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode and other '80s alternative bands.

Call me crazy, but I liked it.

I'm anxious to watch how Hector's continues to refine itself -- it's only been open for a few weeks.  But after my first outstanding meal, I will surely be back. It may have a few kinks to work out, but so far, I like what I see.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.