Las Fuentes translates into “The Fountains” and indeed my dining companion and I found it to be a fountain of Mexican food.
The restaurant makes its home in the southwest corner of White Lakes Mall at 3656 S.W. Topeka Blvd., and it is one of three Kansas-Missouri Las Fuentes restaurants. It is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There is plenty of free parking and they offer take out and catering.
A wheelchair-friendly ramp invites you to enter between two shaded patios meant for alfresco dining. The restaurant’s decor reflects its south-of-the-border menu with stucco walls, brick arches and terra cotta tiles. Mexican themed art hangs on the walls, and Mariachi music is piped throughout. It is family friendly and there are tables and booths to accommodate you with sections for smokers and non-smokers. The smoking side includes a six-stool bar and pool table.
The wait staff is uniformed in casual white shirts and black pants. We were seated immediately for an early Thursday dinner and the prerequisite chips and salsa soon appeared. They were fair but nothing to write home to Madre about.
The five-page menu is more extensive than many Mexican places. It features appetizers, 23 combos, seven salads, three specialty soups, six steak platters, seven vegetarian dinners and a host of special entrées.
I spoke to Jose, the manager, and he suggested the most popular dishes: Pollo Las Fuentes, Tacos El Hombre, Steak Las Fuentes and the Fried Tacos. I noticed shrimp was featured in many of the Las Fuentes titled dishes, and he said it was one of their specialties. Jose insisted the rice and refried beans were made on site – the mark of any decent Mexican eatery. I ordered the Enchiladas Las Fuentes; grilled shrimp enchiladas with a creamy cheese and chimi-churry sauce. My companion ordered the enchilada and tamale combo.
They offer several Mexican beers and cocktails, but this evening we opted for softdrinks. The wait was moderate and the conversational atmosphere improved dramatically once they selected a winner from the battle between the TV and stereo. Mariachis 1, Telemundo 0.
Our food was served hot but plated without much thought to visual appeal. My enchilada wraps were tender to the fork, the shrimp nicely grilled and the creamy cheese sauce smooth, buttery and quite tasty. The rice and refried beans were fair, but I expected more from homemade. My companion thought her enchilada and tamale combo was better than average. Our dinner portions were generous and priced fairly at $17.20 for two.
Overall, I would describe it as a nice place to eat, clean and friendly with decent service and good food.