For those who want an authentic Mexican dining experience, Baton Rouge has a number of options, and Franko’s Antojitos Mexicanos is one of the them.
“Antojito” translates to “little craving.” These dishes are not the main course. They are instead an appetizer or quick mid-day bite. Think common Mexican lunch or street foods like tacos, tortas and gorditas. They make up the heart of Franko’s menu. The south-of-the-border experience extends to bottled and store-made drinks unfamiliar to those who only visit Tex-Mex chains.
They include Jamaica agua fresca, a sweet drink made from hibiscus. Aguas frescas ($2.75 large, $1.99 small) are like lemonade, made with a fruit, sugar and water. The purple-hued drink was slightly tart and sweet with a subtle flavor.
The cheese enchiladas rojas ($9.49) are four cheese enchiladas flavored with just a bit of red sauce and covered with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, queso blanco and a dollop of sour cream. They were not greasy or oozing with cheese. Instead they were slightly spicy from the ancho pepper sauce. The salad atop the enchiladas added a lightness to the dish.
Most of our orders included refried beans, which tasted freshly made, and rice, which was brittle and overcooked.
The torta ($9.49), a Mexican sandwich, proved tasty, and was more than we cared to eat at one sitting. It was a loose rectangle of toasted bread spilled over with grilled goodness. Unless you simply enjoy the challenge of keeping it together from plate to mouth and back, it is best eaten with a fork and knife. Tomatoes, onions and jalapenos are cooked together with the meat of your choice — in our case, a mix of asada and chorizo, or beef and sausage. It favored the asada and resembled a stew served between two slices of bread. A topping of lettuce and sour cream completed the dish.
The carne asada ($11.99) is an ample portion of grilled beef topped with grilled onions and served with avocado slices and a grilled jalapeno pepper on the side. The meat itself was tasty, though a little salty, and the onion, pepper and lime allowed a variety of flavor combinations with each bite. Likewise, the beef quesadillas ($9.99) had abundant flavor and were served with a salad along with the rice and beans.
Our recent visit to Franko’s included a diner who has visited there often and recommends the tacos, which are made with griddle-warmed corn tortillas, your choice of meat and cilantro and onions. With a generous spray of lime, the asada tacos are tasty. The chorizo sausage isn’t too spicy.
Franko’s is a small place with only a few tables, so we don’t know how it handles a large crowd. On our visit, though, the service was prompt and friendly.