First of all, keep your eyes open when you approach this place. I've been here several times, but I still passed it by when I went about a week ago. It's a small place with a modest sign out front.
I don't go here often, simply because it requires a trip across the river, and we all know how the James River is like the River Styx when it comes to those of us who live here. Nonetheless, it's worth the drive to me to get to a Mexican restaurant that is not a bland chain serving the same old thing.
When you get seated, you will get a basket of chips & salsa - no surprise there - but this place has a unique salsa (that I assume is house made) that has rich warm undertones. The menu has a very good varied selection, and they are also open for brunch. In addition to their regular menu items, there are always several daily specials of interest. I took a friend who grew up in California & has lived in the southwest, and he said it's the best Mexican restaurant he's been to in town as far as authentic cooking goes. The guacamole is homemade & chunky. They also make a very interesting & hearty soup with tiny meatballs & rice that I have not seen on any other menus.
The place is not large, but I have never seen it crowded; when the weather is pleasant, you may dine outside on the front deck. I have always had friendly, attentive service here, with beverages and chips & salsa refilled when needed. I wish they had one or two additional choices of hot sauce at each table, but I like things much spicier than most people. All in all, Cielito Lindo gets two thumbs up from me for having well prepared food that is a bit outside the usual for this area in a clean & cozy restaurant .
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