Thursday was Day #2 of my time at the Harbison Midlands Tech campus for Excel class and I made it my mission to enjoy lunches in the area since I am rarely ever out that way, especially at lunch time on a weekday! Day #1’s lunch was at Sun Ming, and Day #2 took me the opposite direction on St. Andrews for some authentic Mexican, hidden away in the Seven Oaks Shopping Center, mostly known for the K-mart and the Zorba’s also housed within the same strip mall.
Cecila’s is authentic in that you are greeted by the owner with an enthusiastic “Hola, hola!” It’s authentic in that there’s a cooler full of Jarritos by the register. Mexican pop music plays over the speakers, and the whole place is decorated with such a cozy vibe that you feel like you’re in Cecilia’s own casa instead of a former Chinese buffet, especially due to the fact that she walks around and engages in conversations with her customers. In fact, it seems like there are many gringoes that dine there on a fairly regular basis from the level of familiarity their conversations seemed to have (I was dining alone, what was I going to do BUT eavesdrop?!).
With only an hour for lunch, I quickly sized up the lunch especiales and asked if I could have the veggie fajitas as a lunch special, where it listed “choose from steak or chicken.” They obliged me and I munched on chips y salsa while waiting for the food. There was a serving mix-up with my veggie fajitas being served to another diner, then I got served steak fajitas, but finally I got my correct ones.
The only downside was all of that plate do-se-do-ing left me with only fifteen minutes to shovel in as much of that glorious food as possible. The real question here, being that this place is billed as authentic Mexican is: “Well, is it authentic?”
I can’t say for sure, but it was muy muy bueno. It seemed much less Tex-Mex than the usual suspects around Columbia, like Monterrey’s, San Jose’s, or even Casa Linda. It was fresher, not so sodium-laden, and just plain delicioso. With the lack of time I was unable to take in churros like I had planned on doing, but this is a place I’ll recommend to others who love Mexican and I’ll try to make it back out again to have a churro and perhaps another especiale!