New Fernando’s has speedy service, tasty options

Look for the statue of a black horse rearing back on the top of the new Fernando’s in Walker. The site, formerly home to LaFleur’s Jr., has also gotten fresh coats of red and green paint, and touches of neon on its facade. Inside, diners will find an updated look, too, with walls painted cream and brown, arched windows, and a giant south of the border-themed mural on a far wall. For a little amusement, there’s also a cardboard stand-up of Jonathan Goldsmith, “the most interesting man in the world,” as seen in the Dos Equis beer commercials. He’s wearing a Mexican poncho.

Tuesday night, the restaurant wasn’t packed but there was a steady flow of folks in and out. We settled on a booth, but there’s also table and chair seating. Our waitress quickly arrived to take drink orders, and returned with not glasses, but mini-pitchers of iced tea; no need for refills.

Looking for a small appetizer, we decided on the queso dip ($3.99, small). The very flavorful, thick, cheesy dip’s kick came from bits of diced chilies, and the dip was served warm along with tortilla chips and complementary salsa.

The speedy service continued, and before we had made a good dent in the dip, our entrees arrived.

The Pily’s plate ($10.99) featured two enchiladas filled with sauteed spinach and bits of grilled chicken. A light white cheese sauce was poured over the enchiladas. We found this a somewhat lighter and delicious alternative to say, beef enchiladas. The dish also offered creamy and nicely seasoned refried beans topped with cheese, and moist, mildly-flavored Mexican rice. Charro beans are available upon request.

The tacos al carbon ($9.99) consisted of two soft taco shells stuffed with bits of fajita chicken and topped with sauteed bell pepper and onions along with sour cream. The chicken packed a lot of flavor, enhanced further by the vegetables. This dish also came with rice, beans and pico de gallo.

We were particularly impressed with the combo fajitas ($14.99). Four strips of steak, four of chicken and three large grilled shrimp were tossed with sauteed onions and tri-colored bell pepper alongside three flour tortillas ready for filling. The chicken and steak had a nice marinated and grilled flavor, with two lime wedges on the side for adding a little more zip, if desired. This dish was served with guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, rice and beans.

Inquiring about dessert, we learned that although there are several desserts on the menu, only fried ice cream and sopapillas were available that night. The latter dessert ($4.99) offered a half-dozen of the thin pastries dusted with cinnamon sugar, with warm honey and chocolate on the side for dipping. We found these just average.

Fernando’s, which also has a location on Coursey Boulevard in Baton Rouge, has burritos, chimichangas, a children’s menu and salads, too.