Anchoring the end of a not-so-bustling shopping center off Jones Creek Road, Ahuuas Mexican Restaurant feels like your neighborhood restaurant, boasting traditional Mexican fare that borders on the familiar Tex-Mex popular across town.

Not that you should mind. The staff is friendly and the place is full of other patrons who have probably eaten there many times, ordering the same reliably tasty dishes over and over again.

An outdoor covered patio plays host to music on the weekends. The margaritas flow and come with optional fruit flavors. The restaurant also blends a Corona bottle-topped margarita cocktail that is de rigueur to satisfy the discerning palates of those needing extreme drinks and/or groups celebrating birthdays or Girls Night Out.

It was a weeknight, so we opted to instead take our calories in the form of cheese and tortillas.

Ahuuas offers salsa and bean dip with its complimentary chips, but we also ordered a bowl of queso to get the meal started off right. Ahuuas’ queso is made with white cheese, so it's pale, with a consistency that is thin enough to stir, but thick enough to coat a chip nicely. It has a slight tang, with peppers flavoring the plain version and can also be dressed up with meat for a heartier bite. For $7.99 this would serve a group of four easily.

This wasn’t my first rodeo at Ahuuas and, speaking from experience, enchiladas are where the restaurant excels. My previous half dozen trips down the enchilada menu brought me to my favorite of the Ahuuas dishes, the Huasteca enchiladas plate, which features bean and cheese enchiladas topped with thinly sliced grilled beef, with crusty bits from the grill. This pairing allows you to create a perfect bite that is cheesy, salty and meaty. If you’re a lily gilder as I am, you can snag one of the enchilada sauce-covered potatoes from the plate for an extra tang.

Knowing that I could steal a bite of my fellow diner’s cheesy enchiladas, which were quite satisfying, I opted for a burrito with fajita steak.

The burrito was filled with beans and rice, and the steak well-seasoned and flavorful. Covered in a light layer of a red sauce and topped with melted cheese, the burrito was tasty without being overly messy. For $12.50, it comes with pico and lettuce on the side, refried beans that I always finish and Mexican rice that I barely touched. I also tried a chicken taco, which had well-seasoned shredded chicken in an otherwise forgettable shell.

Other menu high points include the chile relleno, which had a light crispy coating and an oozy cheese filling, and enfrijoladas, which were double-layer enchiladas with beans and chicken.

To close out our meal, we opted for one of the more outrageous-sounding desserts, a deep-fried cheesecake chimichanga, created in the same vein as the extreme beer-topped margarita.

This dessert falls into the category of dishes that you probably don’t need to eat, but that you will not be sad about when you do. Warm and satisfying, it is, as it sounds, simply a tortilla filled with cheesecake filling and deep fried, with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate and caramel.

A scoop of ice cream pools around the warm cheesecake, which oozes satisfyingly where it is cut and, if eaten quickly, the tortilla shell offered a light crunch and holds its shape well.

The filling tastes like a proper cheesecake, albeit less firm, and the entire dish is shamefully unrefined. On the right day, it might be the best $5.25 you spend.


AHUUAS

WHERE: 4733 Jones Creek Road, Baton Rouge

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

INFO:  http://www.ahuuas.com

PROS: Reasonable prices, big portions, reliable quality

CONS: Spice level may be low for some.