Right on Athens’ eastern edge of town, the colorful façade of Casa Lopez is one of the first things you will see driving into town. A small but festive locale, Casa Lopez has a large menu and a cult following among locals;many swear by it as the best place for tex-mex in town. Regardless of its sheer volume of competition, Casa Lopez does seem to distinguish itself from the rest; its Facebook fanbase seems aglow over great service and a family friendly atmosphere that keeps them coming back.
With a healthy variety of options on its menu, Casa Lopez has a lot of variety, more so than many other similarly-themed places in town. The food is good and, importantly, comes quickly. I would agree there is a healthy emphasis on good service. Since I strive for transparency, though, I must mention the restaurant has seen trouble from the health department, last year 45 people who ate there got sick with Salmonella and this year it was investigated after health inspectors found deer meat in the freezer. From my experiences at the place, though, these were isolated incidents and I experienced nothing dangerous or out of the ordinary.
Anyway, Casa Lopez does beef well. The Carne Asada shown above is just one example of how well the meat is cooked. It could use a little more seasoning, but it’s still well done. It’s unfortunately a trend I felt I noticed in a lot of the food there; some lack of seasoning left me wanting. Chimichangas, which are generally very good and easy to prepare, were crunchy and covered in scrumptious queso cheese. However, the chicken in the middle was, simply, unremarkable.
Though the meat sometimes leaves me wanting, the little things on the side just make the dishes shine. I don’t like guacamole, and what I got here was above average. I’m crazy about queso cheese, but somehow it was even tastier here. Tortillas and chips were good. It was all very surprising in the end how much the little side items made the rest of the food shine in a better way.
I have to say the service was as good too. I hadn’t seen how many people complemented the place for this before visiting, but I do feel like, regardless of being there during the dinner hour I was given plenty of attention. While I was on the fence about the prices (some were very reasonable, others I felt were a little expensive) I was more inclined to think prices like these were reasonable when service is good. All told, this place is not a bad restaurant to try.
- Casa Lopez has a strong variety in its menu, particularly with seafood dishes. If you’re indecisive it’s a good place to consider.
- Beef dishes in particular are done well. Chicken and others are a little bland.
- Great service keeps people coming back here. I would say this is one of the restaurant’s strengths.