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Thursday, December 18, 2014, 4:27 p.m.
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Cancun still fine in new spot

By Rosemary Boggs

This article was published May 8, 2014 at 2:40 a.m.

the-crispy-beef-tacos-at-cancun-mexican-restaurant-in-jacksonville-are-filled-with-seasoned-ground-beef-lettuce-and-cheese

The crispy beef tacos at Cancun Mexican Restaurant in Jacksonville are filled with seasoned ground beef, lettuce and cheese.

My family has been familiar with Cancun Mexican Restaurant for years. The Jacksonville establishment has managed to stay in business through two moves, and in spite of our less-than-perfect economy.

When my now 27-year-old son was a boy we discovered the restaurant in a small strip mall next to Kroger. At that time it shared space with a Dollar Tree. Cancun eventually moved into a free-standing building along the access road, not much more than a stone's throw from the original location.

Another favorite in Jacksonville was Mexico Chiquito. Sadly, it closed last year. But the closing made way for Cancun to move into that building, and it seems to have been a positive decision.

My son and I headed out on a Saturday afternoon to reacquaint ourselves with Cancun. It was odd pulling into the lot and seeing the new, bright yellow Cancun Mexican Restaurant sign, but otherwise the building remains pretty much the same.

The interior walls are yellow with a sort of rust-colored trim. The dining area isn't huge, but there is plenty of seating. There are some booths, but most of the room is filled with attractive tables and chairs. Each table top features a colorful design. The wooden chairs have decorative carvings of birds and flowers. Several televisions hang on the walls; thankfully they weren't loud enough to drown out conversation.

Cancun's menu is not extensive, but offers a variety of Mexican staples. We started with a small order of cheese dip ($3.15) and a small order of guacamole ($3.15). When they arrived I was pleasantly surprised that the small bowls were filled to the brim. The tortilla chips were thick and crispy.

The cheese dip is a thick, mild white version, which is how I prefer it. The guacamole was passable, but not as good as it could be.

The fajitas sounded good, so we shared the Cancun version ($12.15), a combination of steak, chicken, shrimp and chorizo that comes with the usual rice, beans and tortillas. We also split a beef tostada ($3.15) and a cheese enchilada ($2.05).

Lastly I ordered two crispy beef tacos ($1.55 each). One of the benchmarks I use in deciding if a Mexican restaurant is going to be a favorite is the tacos. I have had more than my share of soggy tacos dripping grease to last a lifetime.

Knowing that the fajitas would travel well, we decided to eat the selections that could get soggy first. The thin corn taco shells were crisp, and there was plenty of beef, lettuce and cheese stuffed inside. The meat was well seasoned and there was nary a drip of grease anywhere.

The cheese enchilada was good but not remarkable. I normally order them with cheese on top instead of the red sauce, but this time I forgot. Still, the enchilada sauce had a nice depth of flavor without being too spicy.

The tostada was delicious as well, but the thin flat shell got soggy. It was piled high with meat, cheese, lettuce and a dollop of sour cream on top. That plate was cleared quickly and we moved on to the main event -- the fajitas.

We ordered ours with no tomatoes or green peppers, and they got it right. The hot iron plate was heaped with onions, beef, chicken, chorizo and shrimp.

The dish smelled amazing. While the chicken was a bit dry, the chunks of beef were tender and moist. There were seven shrimp between small and medium size, but beware: I had to pick off several pieces of shell. The chorizo chunks were delicious, and I had to stop myself from picking them all out. We took more than half of the fajitas home, along with about half of the guacamole and the chips left in the basket.

Cancun's menu seems to have something for just about all tastes, and pricing is reasonable. There are vegetarian selections in addition to the beef, chicken and shrimp that fill the quesadillas, burritos, chalupas, chimichangas, taquitos and enchiladas. A lunch menu is offered from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, as are a good variety of combination dinners for $8.10.

If you are into the really spicy stuff, there are several dishes for you, too.

Cancun Mexican Restaurant

Address: 1524 W. Main St., Jacksonville Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday Cuisine: Mexican Credit cards: AE, D, MC, V Alcoholic beverages: Yes Wheelchair accessible: Yes Carryout: Yes (501) 985-3300

Weekend on 05/08/2014

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