“ Address: 3029 Lakeshore Drive / St. Joseph / Michigan / 49085 „
El Cozumel Mexican
3029 Lakeshore Dr.
St. Joseph, MI
We chose this restaurant as it was next door to the Holiday Inn Express we were staying in on the shores of Lake Michigan in the town/city of St Joseph. We had been driving and sightseeing most of the day and really didn't feel like driving out again to have a meal. The other advantage is that we can both have a drink if we walk somewhere to eat and while neither of us drink a lot we do like a small tipple with our evening meal when on holiday.
A RESTAURANT WITH A HISTORY
From the outside this restaurant looks quite large and more like a private house than a restaurant really. It has a Mexican look to it because of the choice of paint colour really which was a sandy ochre sort of colour.
The reason this looks more like a house is because that is what it was originally. The Smith family from Chicago built the house in 1892 as their summer house. Sadly Mr. Smith jumped from a building in Chicago in the stock market crash of 1929 and his widow sold the property . It then became the Colby family 's home and they operated a used car lot to the north of the house and a produce stand across the street on the lakeside for many years. The house was best known in the area as the Colby Mansion and they celebrated their 50th anniversary in this house in 1957.
In the early 90's the Colby sold the house and the new owners opened as a restaurant in 1993. The house has to a large extent been restored to its original character and this is why it looks like a house and has rooms as the original house had. According to local stories there is supposed to be a friendly ghost in the basement.
We were welcomed and told that they were busy so we might have to wait a few minutes. The place was packed and so noisy. There were large family parties of multi generations, groups of young people and other smaller tables with groups of four and some couples. There were people eating and drinking and having a great time in every nook and cranny in the place. We hadn't booked but we hadn't realized how busy it would be.
We waited only a few minutes before they found us a table in a sort of booth which could have seated four or six but we had it all to ourselves. Very quickly they came and handed us huge menus. I struggle with the actual size of big menus and also struggle to find something to eat as there is just too much choice. Mexican of course has dishes that we are pretty familiar with but I still get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and combinations available.
We managed to make our drinks choice fairly quickly and my husband chose his usual Mexican beer , Dos XX ( $2.99 each) and I chose one of the tequila cocktails that were a house specialty, a Margarita which was $5.99 and I got a huge 16oz of drink for that. It was very good and pretty strong so after that I asked for a jug of tap water which they brought with ice and lemon which I always appreciate.
We did have to wait some time for our food but as the place was packed I understood why. My husband ordered the fajitas mixed which were normal fajitas but a mix of steak and chicken. He said it was quite tasty, not the best Mexican he had ever had but certainly very eatable. It could all have been much spicier for us. The plate came with a tiny amount of guacamole which was very good, but the portion was very tiny which disappointed my husband as he loves guacamole.
I ordered a salad as I fancied something fresh and it was a very plain salad indeed. I was hoping for some salsa and guacamole and a bit of spicy sauce but it was lettuce, capsicum and tomatoes and some cheese with a bit of chicken. Once we had our food we didn't see the waiter again and I would say that the service was very average, poor for America but average for other places. We were served our drinks and food but there was nothing extra, no returning to ask if our meals were okay or if we wanted another drink.
We finished our meal, or rather my husband finished his but I was rather overwhelmed with samey sort of flavor and an overkill of lettuce so I couldn't finish mine. We sat there for quite some time before anyone came to ask us if we had finished and if we wanted any desserts. I know I hadn't managed to eat my first course but I had seen something called deep fried ice-cream on the menu and thought I would like to try it.
This turned out to be the most enormous plateful of something hot and crispy around some cold icecream. I understand that it is meant to be a crispy crushed sweet flakes. The idea is you get a scoop of VERY cold ice-cream dip it in egg them roll it in sweet crumbs, like crushed cornflakes or sweetened breadcrumbs with cinnamon and then this is very quickly dunked in a deep fryer for seconds so the outside is crisp while the ice-cream is cold still. Mine was not exactly like that as it had something more like a crispy sweetened batter and then lots of squirty cream on top. It was quite nice but too big and I ended up peeling the outside off and eating the ice-cream.
I can't say we were that impressed with our meal. The service was distinctly underwhelming, in fact we had to ask the waiter twice for the bill which was not very efficient. Once we had the bill we then had to take it to the front ourselves and pay. I am afraid the tip was very small as we got up and went to pay. They accept most credit cards which is fairly typical in the USA.
The price was reasonable as each meal was about $10.50 each and the drinks were $5.99 and my husband had two beers at $2.99. The deep fried ice-ream was $3.99 . The total was about $40 for the meal and drinks which is not bad, but not a bargain either. We had much nicer meals while we were away for less money for the two of us but we couldn't really feel ribbed either as the portions were pretty big.
There is a car park which is sort of shared with the Holiday Inn where we were staying. Our car was parked at the hotel but the car park was very crowded so the place is obviously popular.
I can't say we would rush back to this restaurant if we lived locally but as we don't it is unlikely that we will ever return. The food was okay, it just was not spicy or flavoursome enough for us. I would have preferred a bit more of the salsa and guacamole and other salad stuff to balance out my lettuce and my husband really didn't want rice as well as the wraps and it was not really spicy enough.
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same username.