Dining & Drink

Differences Come With Name Change?

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Celi’s not quite equal to memory of Oseguera’s

By Rachel Birdsell
TFW Contributing Writer

25 E. Center St.
Fayetteville
521-9991

Preamble Ramble

(Photo: Richard Davis) Cheese dip, chips, salsa and a margarita at Celi's in Fayetteville.

Celi’s isn’t a new place in town, it just has a new name. It used to be Oseguera’s and according to the restaurant’s website, it still has the same chef and same great food. I’m not convinced, because the restaurant I ate at this time around wasn’t like the Oseguera’s I remember.

Food For Thought

Since every meal at Celi’s starts with chips and salsa, let’s begin there. The salsas were the same as they’ve always been. There was a regular slightly salty salsa, a smoky, sweet salsa and the green salsa. My favorite was the green, even though the third bowl (I’m tellin’ you, I love the stuff) was considerably milder than the others.
I had the combo plate and ordered a shredded beef taco, chicken tamale and a spinach enchilada.
One of my favorite things about eating at Oseguera’s was always how quickly the meal came out. This trip I waited more than 30 minutes for my meal. When my plate was delivered, I started to pick up the taco only to have one of the sides completely disintegrate because it was so soggy. The shredded beef that spilled out was really good. It was loaded with flavor and was tender. It was unfortunate that it arrived in such a soggy mess.
Where the taco had plenty of moisture, the chicken inside the tamale had none. It had flavor and was a little spicy, but it was drier than Gandhi’s flip-flops in a sandstorm. The majority of it stayed on my plate.
The spinach enchilada left a lot to be desired, too. Instead of fresh spinach that still had a little bit of body to it, this spinach was mushy and had the strong flavor that you get from canned spinach. It was bad enough that after two bites the rest of it stayed on the plate, as well.
I did discover something pretty spiffy this go around, though. I discovered that Celi’s has real sopapillas — not the fake fried tortilla sopapillas that a lot of Mexican restaurants try to pass off as sopapillas, but the real pillow pastry with cinnamon and honey. They were just a tiny bit too chewy, but they were still definitely worth getting. I was thrilled to find genuine sopapillas being served.

The Sporkcast

(1-5 sporks)

Atmosphere: 4.50 multicolored sporks with sombreros on the handles. Celi’s has bright colors and your average Mexican restaurant decor. It’s very laid back and relaxed.
Food: 3.2 frowning sporks with really limp handles. I’m hoping my experience was just a fluke. Maybe it was just an off night for them and should I go back, I’d find the service and food that I’ve come to know and love. As it stands, I’ll opt for other restaurants unless someone can convince me to try Celi’s again.
Staff: 4.5 sporks who were doing the Shuffle. My servers were very sweet but seemed to be a little harried. I’m not sure why, because when I ate there only a couple of tables were full. One of them did apologize for how long it took the food to arrive. All in all, it took me and one other diner at my table one hour and 20 minutes to be served our meal, to eat and pay.
Dollars spent: I left behind about $13 for my meal and sopapillas.
Chance of returning: Someone will have to woo me heavily to get to try Celi’s again. I’m saddened to think the restaurant I once knew may be no more.

If you know of a great eating place, drop me a line at rabirdsell@gmail.com. I’ll check it out and let you know what I think.

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