Tucked into the corner of an L-shaped strip mall, this family-owned Meexican restaurant is more spacious than you expect. It resembles an outdoor plaza, and is very comfortable. Casa Garcia cooks all the standard Mexican combination platters reasonably well, within the constraints of its attempt to serve a mainstream suburban clientele. The way to get the to show what they can really do is to break out of the standards and sample their more offbeat dishes. The large section of seafood dishes is a particular specialty. The grilled meats--notably the marinated filet mignon--are very good, and seem absurdly underpriced. On Sunday, they do a big family-style dinner here with all the basics served in limitless portions. It's a good way to break the kids into Mexican food.
Before the influx of the more ethnic Mexican restaurants that arrived here in the past few years, this was about as close as we came to the real deal. The menu is based on a collection of family recipes, but it's highly Americanized, with all the dishes made popular in the chains here as well as the home-grown eats. A Mexican place with spinach-artichoke dip? Please.
It's hard to believe, but the Metairie location is the oldest Mexican restaurant in the area. In 1984 Octavio and Dorita Garcia opened it and did well enough with it to expand and redecorate a few years later. Their son Steve joined the outfit and, in 2004, opened a second location in Mandeville. Yet a third Casa Garcia opened in 2008 in Hammond.
All are large restaurants with a lot of space. The Metairie location has the feeling of the plaza of some little Mexican town. Very quaint. The Mandeville and Hammond restaurants look more like chain establishments, a shade too roomy and stark for my taste. The bars are not only well stocked but adept at making real drinks, not just frozen margaritas from the machine. Service is by young, friendly people who can sometimes be hard to locate.
Take it very easy on the first courses, unless you've ordered one of the very few entrees of modest size.