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Xilonen Cocina Mexicana

3035 Valley Ave Suite 101

Winchester, VA

Permanently closed.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

On August 8, 2014, I revisited Xilonen Cocina Mexicana, the new place in Creekside at 3035 Valley Avenue, Suite 101. I had eaten lunch there once, shortly after it opened, and was not happy with the experience. I wanted to try it again, and had three people along to assist me in reevaluating the place.

While we were looking over the menu we received the usual snack of tortilla chips and salsa. My first guest ordered three tacos: Pork Carnitas, al Pastor, and Pollo a la Parrilla.

The second guest had Mole Enchiladas, consisting of Chicken Tinga Poblana with mole sauce, sesame seeds, and sour cream. The sauce was colored brown by its chocolate content.

The third guest's order was Flautas de Pollo, Chicken Tinga rolled in corn tortillas, with morita salsa, refried beans, pica de gallo, Mexican cream, and cotija cheese.

I had Pork Carnitas, slow roasted pork shoulder with pickled red onions. It was served in a small iron skillet resting on a ceramic platter, and was smoking hot. It was accompanied by bowls of charro beans and Mexican rice, with small servings of salso roja, salsa verde, and two corn tortillas.

We also ordered fresh Guacamole, prepared table-side by the chef. He brought a little stand to the table with a mortar bowl called a Molcajete made from volcanic stone. He put two cut-up avocados in the bowl, and added pieces of onions and tomatoes, along with assorted seasonings.

At our request, the chef did not add hot sauce to the guacamole, but left its little dish for those who wanted to use it in their serving. He did not use the traditional Tejolote stone pestle for the mixing, but a large wooden spoon which made it somewhat coarse.

The guacamole was accompanied by a basket of fresh tortilla chips. Only one person tried adding the hot sauce. We all agreed that the guacamole was good, as well as the other food we had been served. I was able to eat only half of my pork carnitas, and asked for a box to take the rest home.

— Anonymous Reviewer

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

On May 29, 2014, I had lunch at Xilonen Cocina Mexicana, which had opened on May 2. It's located in Creekside at 3035 Valley Avenue, #101, which had last been another Mexican place called Poblano's Southwest Grill. Xilonen is closed on Monday, and opens at 11:30 AM on other days. Tuesday-Saturday it closes at 9:00 PM, and on Sunday at 5:00 PM. The phone number is 540-431-5794, and carryout is available, but delivery is not.

I approached the main entrance at the building's north end at 12:20 PM. I saw that an elderly couple who had been trying to go in had found the door locked, and were returning to their car. At that moment someone unlocked the door, so the couple returned and went in. I thought it odd that a restaurant would be open almost an hour later than the advertised time. This was even more curious, because the Food Section in The Winchester Star had included a feature article about the place just the day before.

I followed the others in and found that the interior was very chilly, and kept on my baseball cap and jacket. The floor plan arrangement was not much different from Poblano's. The room is L-shaped, with the long dimension along the left facing Valley Avenue, with windows. Just inside the entry are two alcoves, one on either side. The one on your right has several easy chairs, plus three round high-rise tables and chairs. The alcove on the left has a couple of easy chairs, along with regular tables and chairs.

The main dining area is beyond the alcoves. A bar along the right wall has ten high-rise chairs, with three video screens high on the back wall. The kitchen is further on the right, beyond the bar. Another entrance is at the far end of the room, near the rest rooms along the right wall. The table seating is scattered around the room, with a number of booths along the left wall, looking out on Valley Avenue.

I took a seat in one of the booths, as did the couple who had entered before me. The waiter gave each of us a menu printed on one side of a legal sized sheet. After the couple looked at the menu, they got up and left; possibly because of the room's chilliness, or perhaps they didn't like the offerings. However, I stayed because I had complained to the waiter that it was too cold.

The menu's groupings included Botanas, Platos Fuertes, Tacos, Enchiladas, Iron Skillet Fajitas, Salads and Soups, and All Sides. There was no listing of beverages or desserts, and no children's menu. I considered Pork Carnitas from the Platos menu, but decided that a platter was more than I wanted today. I looked over the Tacos selection, and ordered two Carnitas Tacos. They were made with corn tortillas, with slow roasted pork, tomatillo sauce, onion, and lime.

When the waiter brought the usual tortilla chips and salsa, I asked for a Mexican Coca Cola. It was served in a bottle labeled "Hecho en Mexico". I had to ask for a glass and straw. The tacos were served fairly quickly on a rectangular dish, supported in the hollows of a small metal tray in the shape of a W. They were made with fairly small soft tortillas, and didn't hold very much food. The pork was quite tender, having been slow-roasted for ten hours at 180 degrees. I squeezed the two pieces of lime over the pork.

The tacos were tasty, but I wished that they had been larger. I didn't order any of the sides, but I decided later that I should have added Fried Plantains too. Other patrons came in while I was eating, and one woman went back to her car to put on a jacket, because the room was still quite chilly.

Liquid from the tacos had dripped on my fingers, and when I washed my hands in the men's room I found water on the floor. The server seemed surprised at the news, but cleaned it up promptly. I also noted that the lid to the toilet tank was cracked.

My overall evaluation of Xilonen was not favorable. A place that had been open for almost a month should open promptly, have warmed the room in advance, and checked the cleanliness of the rest rooms. I would like to visit it one more time to try the Pork Carnitas on the Platos Fuertes menu before writing it off altogether. The servers were apparently the co-owners.

— Anonymous Reviewer