The fifth Monte de Rey Mexican Restaurant in the Triad and its first in Kernersville opened July 1 at 838 S. Main St. next to Planet Fitness in the small strip center that also holds Smitty’s Grille.
Monte de Rey is a local chain owned by Manuel Hernandez. He also owns Xcaret Mexican Grill & Cantina in downtown Winston-Salem. (Monte del Rey restaurants in Mocksville, West Jefferson and Wilkesboro were started with former partners. Monterrey restaurants in Greensboro, Winston-Salem and elsewhere are not affiliated.)
The new restaurant seats about 265 people, including a rear dining room that can be used for private parties and outdoor seating to the front and side of the restaurant.
The restaurant also has a side bar area. It is currently waiting on ABC permits to come through but will be offering wine, beer and liquor. That will include sangria; Dos Equis on tap; a large selection of margaritas; and such top-shelf tequila as Patron, Don Julio and Correlejo.
The Kernersville Monte de Rey will have the same menu as its sister restaurants with a couple of differences.
“We added a few dishes. We decided to test some more authentic Mexican dishes,” said Manali Hernandez, the manager of the restaurant and daughter of Manuel Hernandez.
This includes molletes ($7.99 at lunch), three slices of bolillo bread — one with with refried beans and cheese, one with chorizo and cheese and one with eggs and ham. Arrachera ($16.99) consists of skirt steak grilled with onions, jalapeno, refried beans, pico de gallo and salsa verde.
Other new additions include three birria ($9) filled with shredded beef and served with a rich consommé for dipping; and cochinita pibil, ($12.99), marinated pork stewed with a special sauce served with rice and black beans.
The rest of the menu covers a lot of territory — it’s 10 pages long — and includes a wide variety of burritos, nachos, quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas, burgers, soups, salads and appetizers — as well as combination platters and beef, seafood, chicken and pork specialties.
Examples include chicken and rice soup ($6.99 or $8.99), Manali’s salad ($9.99, with grilled chicken or shrimp, tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese) and beef chimichangas ($9.29).
Seafood dishes include pulpo a la Parilla (grilled octopus, $15.99), fish or shrimp ceviche ($10.99, $11.99), and pescado Veracruz ($15.49).
Beef specials include steak tapatio ($14.29), grilled ribeye with onions, pineapple, cheese, mushrooms, rice and beans.
Manali Hernandez said that arroz con pollo ($8.99 to $10.99) remains a perennial favorite and that the burritos California also is a best-seller. “The burritos California — I think we were the first ones to come up that, and people really love it,” she said. The dish ($9.29 to $11.29) consists of a choice of steak, chicken or shrimp cooked with onion, tomato and bell pepper and served in a large flour tortilla topped with a creamy cheese sauce, pico de gallo and avocado.
Fans of Xcaret or the other Monte de Rey locations will recognize the brightly colored décor with its walls of various shades of orange, yellow, pink and red, and chairs and tabletops with decorative scenes of Mexico. The walls also feature original Mexican artwork.
“People ask us a lot if the artwork is for sale, and it is. We get everything – the plates, the glasses, the paintings — from Guadalajara. We know a lot of the artisans there.”