okgourmet.com    Home of Steve's Restaurant Reviews

Leal's Mexican Restaurant

3100 Mabry Dr.
Clovis, NM
(575) 763-4075

It may not be quite accurate to describe Leal's as New Mexico style Mexican food, but it is not Tex-Mex either. Instead it is somewhat of a fusion of the two styles, taking the best of both. Serving enchiladas with either red or green chile, and offering a "topped sopaipilla" (a variation of a stuffed sopaipilla), I would say it falls more in the category of New Mexican food.

Upon seating diners are given the usual complimentary chips and salsa. These were a little different than I usually encounter, though. The chips are apparently made by Leal's (judging from the fact that Leal's operates a tortilla factory in Muleshoe, TX, a few miles from Clovis). The chips tasted like they were freshly made, and are sold in bags at the front of the restaurant giving the impression that other patrons must think they are as good as I do. One thing I particularly liked was the fact that the chips were not overly salted.

Leal's humble beginnings
Leal's humble beginnings

The red salsa was mild enough to please the High Plains clientele, but this one had a surprisingly robust flavor. I enjoyed it almost as much as the spicier versions I usually find closer to the Rio Grande.

The menu is heavy on steaks, fajitas, and just about any style of beef that could be expected to be served in a Mexican restaurant. The fact that you can order a "bowl of chili" and "Carne Guisada" reminds me more of Austin Mexican restaurants than ones in New Mexico.

One item that looked interesting to me was the Topped Sopaipilla, much like a stuffed sopaipilla except that the the beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomato filling is on top of the sopaipilla. This is a large sopaipilla that covers the plate, and if you do not get full after eating it the toppings will certainly do the job. This is different from most of the dishes I see at other restaurants in that it also includes a large topping of guacamole.

I substituted chicken for beef on the topped sopaipilla, not really expecting it to taste as good as the beef would. The chicken, though, was not only of surprising good quality, but I thought blended well with the flavors of the other ingredients. The guacamole, lettuce, and tomatoes were all good, and the cheese was the standard yellow variety served in most Mexican restaurants. In order to make it more the style to which I am accustomed, though, I asked for some chile to add on top. They brought both the red and green chile in bowls, and with the high quality sopaipilla served underneath, this made the dish quite satisfying and enjoyable.

Although I did not try any enchiladas, the sauces that were brought for my dinner give me some idea of how the enchiladas would be. The green sauce was the spiciest, and even though it was pureed, had a good enough flavor that I ended up pouring the entire bowl over the sopaipilla. I definitely think that when ordering enchiladas, the green would be the ones to try.

The red sauce was mild, and unlike the red salsa, did not seem to have much flavor (from the dark red color it looked as if several typical Tex-Mex spices were added).

Leal's does not seem to totally follow the more traditional New Mexican recipes, but the quality of the food is good enough to make up for the modifications they have made. The fact that they will alter orders according to your specifications makes it even better. I definitely enjoyed the experience, and I would certainly head to Leal's in any of the Texas cities where its branches are located.



Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Accessible: Yes
Additional Locations: 2115 N. Prince (Clovis), Amarillo TX, Plainview TX, Muleshoe TX, Henrietta, TX
Smoking: Non-Smoking Section
Alcohol: Beer, Wine, Margaritas

Chile Index:

Most Recent Visit
Mar. 28, 2006

Number of Visits: 1

Best Item
Topped Sopaipilla

Special Ratings
Topped Sopaipilla:

Restaurant Web Site