Ricos Tacos Moya

Chicken flautas is served at Ricos Tacos Moya. The small chain, with restaurants in Alexandria and Woodbridge, opened a location in Stafford last year.

It’s nice when you can find a new take on a familiar cuisine. Such is the case with Ricos Tacos Moya in Stafford.

As one can guess from the name, Ricos Tacos Moya is a Mexican restaurant. While there are other restaurants in the small chain (locations include Woodbridge and Alexandria), this place resonates with me as a family-run, friendly spot.

And the food! Definitely a slightly different spin on Mexican cuisine.

Of course, authenticity helps with any genre of food, and the website and menu here boldly proclaim this as real and authentic Mexican food.

I am a Mexican food fan—as are the two hulking young sons who were once little boys accompanying me—and while this menu has some classic standbys, the dishes here have their own style.

Bottom line: We found it interesting. And good.

The interior of Ricos Tacos Moya is pleasant and relaxing, but not particularly exciting. It featured some nice tables and chairs (with fabric not plastic coverings, so bonus points there) and a couple of random sombreros on the wall. A large bar anchors the spacious room, and wall-mounted televisions showed various soccer games when we were there.

We were seated quickly and our server asked us for drink orders. She came back soon with those—and with some of the most delectable, light and flavorful tortilla chips and salsa I’ve had in ages.

These chips were melt-in-your-mouth good. Too many times, I’ve experienced chips and salsa where the chips were overly hard, or obviously just reheated from a store-bought bag.

Not so here—these chips were freshly made and a sensory delight.

We ordered nachos with steak and chicken ($9.95) to start. They arrived with sour cream and guacamole, beans, diced tomato, cheese and an invisible dollop of deliciousness.

These and the original chips and salsa were enough to fill up the little tummy of the tiny toddler who was with us. She was eagerly reaching for the next one even when the prior one was still in her mouth.

If actions speak louder than words, these nachos and chips were a happy yell.

For the main meal, Teen got the Burrito Loco with steak ($8.95).

Regular readers will know that it’s almost impossible for this growing athlete to not request red meat at every opportunity.

In addition to the carne, the dish featured guacamole, sour cream, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, black beans and cheese, wrapped in a clearly just-made and cooked large tortilla.

Although he resists giving me soaring oratory, non-loquacious Teen did acknowledge it was “really good.” (While he really should have a larger vocabulary than the toddler, I’ll stick with the proof-is-in-the-eating theory, and note that he wolfed it down.)

Younger Teen—he who was once known as Tween and Former Tween, and who now is about to be taller than his old man—got the Tacos Alambre with chicken ($12.95).

Alambre in this case meant grilled meat, bacon, bell peppers, cheese, salsa and avocado in a soft tortilla. (He requested no onions, which normally accompany this style of dish.)

There were three large tacos in this order, with a side of beans and rice. He was so full from the chips and nachos that he gladly had enough to take some home. He said the chicken was tender and flavorful, and even offered to come back to review it again.

The Kid Quesadilla with chicken ($5.95) was ordered for our little dining companion, though she already filled up on chips. Naturally she didn’t want it, so it was my sacred duty to make sure food didn’t go to waste.

Wow! So glad she was full. This chicken was nicely flavored, tender and delightful. I wasn’t expecting this to be a major taste thrill, but it really was.

Finally, Daddy (yours truly). While everything looked really tempting, I am a sucker for a good chile relleno. So I requested the Chile Relleno with steak ($12.95). This was a really big chile, well-stuffed with cheese and steak, and accompanied by refried beans and an interesting cone-shaped serving of Spanish rice.

This dish, too, was a bit different. And though I’m a writer and reviewer, I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Certainly it was among the largest chiles I’ve had. But beyond even that, the combination of this particular chile, this steak and this cheese was almost intriguing—a strange way to review a dish, but accurate.

I would certainly order it again. But it impacted me far more than a simple chile relleno with cheese would.

We enjoyed this place. Warm food, warm smiles and just enough of a “hmmm, I wonder what that’s like” factor to keep it interesting.

We’re all looking forward to going back soon to Ricos Tacos Moya.

Perhaps it will be on Taco Thursday, when they have $1.49 taco specials.

Dave Smalley is a Fredericksburg- based freelance writer, not overly fond of cooking at home, and father of four.

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