21 S Water St.
Wilmington, North Carolina 28401
Mixto on Facebook
Congratulations to chef Eric Gephart for winning Wilmington Top Chef in the Taste of Wilmington competition!
Former Water Street has been replaced by new Mixto Restaurant, a contemporary Latin restaurant. The interior has been brightened and lightened with bold slashes of color everywhere. The effect is pleasant, cheerful and a little exotic.
The cocktail menu promises real mojitos, with muddled mint, lime and sugar, and I thought the price was reasonable. The wine list was solid, and also reasonably priced. The beer list included Bohemia and Negro Modelo along with a good selection of other imports.
The salsa they served with the chips was fresh and bright and tasted as though it had been made recently, rather than dumped out of a container. If it wasn't made there, they fooled me. My husband ordered the ceviche, which the menu said was "local catch". It was a white fish of medium-firm texture, appropriate for ceviche, and he said it was nice and citrusy - not overpowered by onion, which is a dish-ruiner for both of us. I don't like ceviche, so no, I didn't try it. And you can't make me.
We both ordered the house salad with chipotle-ranch dressing. Now THAT was a proper salad! This wasn't one of those deals where someone in the kitchen grabs a handful of baby greens mix, throws it in a bowl, tops it with a sliced (and this time of year completely tasteless) roma tomato and a generous serving of nasty, raw, red onion (see "dish-ruiner" above) with a ramekin of dressing on the side. Someone actually took some thought and care with this baby. The greens were a standard mix, finely chopped red bell pepper was dotted throughout, along with small-dice mango, and it was topped with thinly shaved pickled red onion! Perfectly edible and didn't leave us with onion taste so strong that it ruined the ability to taste anything afterward. The chipotle-ranch had a hefty kick, but the bits of mango in the salad cut it to a balanced heat level. Impressive. And it was dressed the right amount. Not too much, not too little. (I think if a chef knows his or her way around a salad, it's dressed. It doesn't come out of the kitchen in a ramekin unless you insist on getting it that way.)
My multi-course husband also ordered the Sweet Potato and Corn Soup. It was a roughly pureed sweet potato soup with bites of corn. I liked it, he loved it. I thought it was just a little under-salted. For his main course, he got the chicken mole with black beans and yellow rice. The beans were a little smokey, firm and well-cooked - definitely not canned. The chicken was moist and had good flavor with mole on the side that was fresh-made. I ordered the Peruvian roasted chicken with black-eyed peas. It came with a blackberry sauce and the server picked out a perfect juicy red to go with it. It's nice to have wait staff that pay attention at the wine tastings and know their way around the selections. I was impressed with her pairing. Better than I could have done. (All right, fine, that's not saying much, but still, she was good.)
Serving sizes were exactly what we like. We were satisfied but not stuffed when we finished.
One of the dessert offerings was vanilla ice cream with dulce du leche and no way was I walking out of there without trying that. I was really surprised when the ice cream came out white. The dulce du leche I am used to is caramel-colored. This ice cream was lightly drizzled with a sauce I could barely see, and frankly, I couldn't taste it much, either. I questioned the server about it, and she explained that their dulce du leche came from Chile and was vey pale. I believed her, but she was nice enough to bring me a small side serving of it so I could see it and taste it better. It was delicious, but I do prefer mine more caramelized. That was a little too mild for me, and I do think that dessert could stand a bit more drizzled on there.
Prices were reasonable on everything. We're happy to have another great choice for downtown dining.