With three locations in Berks County, Alebrije is obviously doing something right.
In our blog from Wyomissing, I promised I wouldn’t wait five years to complete the trifecta. On a Tuesday afternoon in June, I made good on that promise when Julie and I paid a visit to the Alebrije along the 5th Street Highway in Muhlenberg Township.
The restaurant shares the Plaza 222 strip mall with Harbor Freight Tools (who was having an “urgent blowout” sale, in case anyone is in the market for tools), Mattress Warehouse and a Subway. The new Jersey Mike’s Subs is near the front entrance to the strip while the new Popeye’s is toward the back.
I actually think this location had the best interior of the three. The walls were painted to look like a street scene in Mexico, brightly painted with faux-tile awnings over the windows and doors.
An accent wall was painted with a mural of a stylized snake and bird with the words “Alebrije artesania inventada por Pedro Linares Lopez en 1936,” a tribute to the Alebrije style that lends its name to the restaurant.
We were seated quickly but had to wait a few minutes for our server to arrive – not what you want during a weekday lunch when you have a limited amount of time.
As expected, the complementary chips and salsa were first to arrive. It was pretty consistent with what we have experienced in the past, though it was maybe a little thinner than others. It tasted just as good, though and we didn’t leave much when finished.
We had ordered food and drinks at the same time to cut down on the wait and my horchata arrived a short time later.
I love horchata, but haven’t ordered it for a blog since our visit to Let’s Taco Bout It in West Reading. It was really good. Julie mentioned that the milky, cinnamon-spiced drink reminds her of a chai tea latte. I never thought of it before, but I can see it the similarities (and I do enjoy both). My only complaint is that I asked for a horchata and a glass of water and never got the water.
It was about 20 minutes from the time we ordered until our lunch arrived. It felt like twice as long. Because of it being lunch, I was hyper sensititve to the time it took.
When it did arrive, my food looked amazing (as always at Alebrije). It also looked huge. The stuffed burrito was the length of the oversized square plate, flanked on one side with rice and refried beans. A simple chopped salad sat on the other side.
The burrito Alebrije was stuffed with ground beef and topped with tomato sauce and cheese crumbles. The seasoned ground beef was delicious and the tomato sauce was light and complemented it very well. It was also hearty and filling to the point where I couldn’t finish all of the sides.
Julie enjoyed an order of tacos de carnitas (pork). They were topped with onions, tomato and cilantro and served with guacamole, pico de Gailo and spicy salsa.
Guacamole is always Julie’s topping of choice with tacos. And it really went well with her carnitas. The pulled pork was nice and flavorful, though not as much as the ground beef. Still, the tacos were very good, and again, very filling.
It was then that we realized that she was only supposed to get two with the lunch version, not the three that was on our plate. When the check arrived, we realized that while we both thought we were clearly ordering the lunch specials, we each had been given – and charged for – the dinner portions. That put our lunch around $30 (with my horchata).
We didn’t raise a stink about it as the difference in price isn’t that much, but it was a little frustrating. The lunch service also wasn’t as quick as I would have liked – there was a lengthy wait for our check after the meal, as well.
Would we go back to the 5th Street Highway location? Sure. But next time, it will be for dinner.
Food: Very Good
Alebrije Mexican Restaurant
3225 N. 5th Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605