El Mundo – Crescent Hill

2345 Frankfort  Ave, Louisville KY 40206

Wednesday 5:05 pm: Called in attempt to make reservation. Attempt unsuccessful.
6:58 pm: Turned away from the patio due to our incomplete party status
6:59 pm: Ordered two frozen margaritas from their noisy downstairs cafe.
7:09 pm: Party of four takes the last patio table
7:10 pm: Our friend Maria arrives
7:30 pm: The three of us are seated on the patio

We expected a struggle. For the past six months we’ve attempted and failed to satisfy our craving for El Mundo’s “twisted” Mexican cuisine at least six times. Not unlike many Louisville hot spots, El Mundo refuses to take reservations. Add to the equation a constant stream of customers and three separate hosting stands for each distinct seating area, this restaurant is reminiscent of JFK airport in December.

Despite several normal hiccups and a few kinks in our idealistic plan to be seated at 7pm, we consider this visit to be one of our best El Mundo experiences. We only had to wait about 2o minutes until we were graciously led to a table on their 40 seat patio by our charismatically quirky server Jay. After months of disappointment, we finally enjoyed their discounted margaritas—sunglasses on and voices set at a normal volume. No more tiny indoor dining rooms stuffed with other drunkards like us. We finally reached the patio oasis.

When ordering Mexican food, you typically spend less than $8.00 per entree. At El Mundo the minimum price is $9.25. I guess you pay an extra $1.25 for the “twist.” Despite the steep prices for traditionally cheap food, we’ve enjoyed every menu item we’ve sampled (particularly the mussels). We don’t mind paying more for a meal if the food has quality ingredients. In fact, there are two main signals that tipped us off that their food was not delivered by Sysco two weeks prior to its appearance on our plates: salads are full of substantial nourishment and their entrees, which include ground Kentucky bison, aren’t drowned with fillers like sour cream or cheese.

$4 Frozen and Shaken Margarita

El Mundo holds the title for best local margaritas. Based on our experiences across the city thus far, this honor holds true. Originally priced at $6.00, on Wednesday and Thursday evenings their house blend of morales blanco, triple sec, and sour mix is served frozen or on the rocks for a mere $4. We find their margaritas to be the perfect blend of strength, sugar, and salt (even without getting salt on the glass).

A breakdown of our 3-star rating: Any Mexican restaurant that’s worth it’s salt is going to have a margarita on their menu. The real question is, is it good? As far as our opinion goes, the answer for El Mundo’s is yes. Dining area options is an added benefit. If we haven’t made their tendency to always be at full capacity clear yet, be prepared to wait 20 minutes to an hour if you go, well, any day or time. Once and if you are seated, the service is great. The food is delicious and we were even tempted to give their happy hour a higher rating because of this fact, but unfortunately for our purposes, because their food is never on special—we simply couldn’t.

Jasmine Ashton and Megan Feil, April 22, 2012

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