I’m pretty much always on the hunt for some good Tex-Mex food in the Capital District. I don’t necessarily mean the most “authentic” taco experience (which is another subject for another blog), but more of the large portioned, smothered in cheese, enchilada and quesadilla type of places with a never ending basket of chips and salsa. I’ve mostly tried a few places in the immediate Albany area, but never with any extraordinary results. My efforts to find something new led me to one of my favorite Capital District small towns – Chatham – and a restaurant called Destino.
We started off with a dish of guacamole and chips as an appetizer, which was unfortunately bland. It could have really used more of a kick from some lime and jalapeno to brighten it up. The chips that came with the guac, as well as the complimentary chips and salsa, were definitely made fresh in-house. They were still pretty hot and a little oily from the fryer – perhaps even too well-done and crunchy. We liked the salsa, however, which was very much on the sweet and mild side with a smooth consistency and some light onion flavors that weren’t overpowering. Nothing ruins a Tex Mex meal for me more than a salsa that’s 95 percent onion, but this one was thankfully light and enjoyable.
For an entree, I opted to try the chicken enchiladas with a mole sauce. I always like to try the mole at a new Mexican restaurant – it’s such a great indicator of quality. If the mole comes out watery and thin, or overly sweet and chocolatey, I know I probably won’t like most of the other dishes. Plus there’s such a variation in mole sauces across different restaurants that it’s interesting to see how each place stacks up.
This mole sauce was great – thick but not too thick, some sweet notes but also a nice bitter chocolate presence, and a little touch of spice. The portion size was great, and the topping of fresh tomatoes, sour cream, and cotija cheese was in a perfect ratio to the rest of the plate. I also really enjoyed the shredded chicken filling, which was cooked in a mild tomato sauce that kept it from being dried out.
We also tried the steak fajitas, which were served with a whopping amount of filling for the three small tortilla shells that accompanied the sizzling platter to the table.
This was so. much. food. After the tortillas were gone, we still had nearly three quarters of the filling left, but I didn’t mind having to pick through the delicious remains. The big chunks of steak were remarkably tender and juicy.
Final Rating: 7/10. Destino is serving up some solid Tex Mex fare in Chatham. Is it the best I’ve ever had? Probably not, but I think it beats out some of the more popular establishments in Albany. Portions were big and hearty, with well executed proteins and sauces. I do wish there was a little more heat in the dishes and the salsa in particular, but maybe some tableside hot sauces would help do the trick.
This place definitely warrants further study. I’m curious to come back and try the margarita menu, which has some interesting items like a hibiscus prickly pear margarita, as well as some non-traditional Tex Mex entrees on the menu like brisket tacos and a portobello-plantain burrito.