By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Apr 21, 2003 at 5:39 AM

It's ironic that an authentic Mexican restaurant opened in a space formerly occupied by a fast food franchise, but that's exactly what happened when Los Huaraches (3116 N. Downer Ave.) took over the old Wendy's.

The spirit of fast food must still loom in the space, because the service at Los Huaraches was also very fast -- and friendly. We found a table on a crowded Tuesday night and our waiter immediately lit the hurricane candle on our table before rushing off to get us waters, nachos and salsa.

The décor is pretty classic, with colorful Mexican blankets hanging in the windows and oil paintings of Mexican villages on the walls. Most unique is the shrine for La Virgin de Guadelupe in the back of the restaurant, where a statue of Mary is surrounded by candles and red and white roses.

Los Huaraches is a festive environment with streamers and a jukebox pumping out Latino classic and modern tunes. The overall vibe is very similar to Jalisco, just a few blocks away on North Avenue, however we preferred the staff, atmosphere (which is incredibly clean) and the food at Las Huarches.

First of all, the salsa was different: very chunky and spicy with just the right amount of cilantro. The chips were extremely fresh and good, but basket refills cost $1, unlike at other local Mexican restaurants.


I ordered the vegetarian burrito suizo ($7.95), which was the size of a large man's sandal. Although overall unremarkable, I appreciated the light, lard-free beans and the side of guacamole. My dinner companion's enchiladas with mole sauce ($8.95) were much more interesting, with a tangy, sweet mole sauce and delicious corn tortillas.

Both of our dinners came with a side of beans and rice. We found the rice a bit dry, but were very satisfied after we mixed it with a dollop of the delicious salsa. The only perplexing aspect of our meals was the unappealing orange wedges served on the side.

We were also pleased to see that there were as many Hispanic families as there were college students dining, which is always a good sign.

Overall, the prices are fair, the food is good and although there are better Mexican restaurants in the city, Las Huaraches is your best choice for Mexican eats on the East Side.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.