Calle Onze is a homey place to be. Earth tones inhabit the upscale Tex-Mex restaurant at 222 W. 11th St. in the Heights, giving it a calming aesthetic that is elevated by certain features.
The wall is painted green where the bar seating looks out into the kitchen, where I could hear clanging and the sizzling of meat even from my table at the opposite wall. Vases of plants are placed just about everywhere, from shelving above the kitchen to hanging from the ceiling.
Exposed wooden beams add to the earthiness. So do the hanging lights that have globed, see-through brown shades.
Other features that completed the feel include leather chairs and dark green drinking glasses.
The space invites patrons to stay awhile. The patio also is spacious and looks to be the perfect spot for a get-together with friends.
Once I was seated, the first thing I noticed about the menu was the note on the front that began with, “Our Dearest Friend.”
Essentially, the note expressed that Calle Onze was more than just a pretty establishment, and what really brings it meaning are the people who come in and eat. Every ingredient for every dish, it read, is used with customers in mind.
I thought it quaint to see such a note, but it elevated my expectations. And I’m not sure that was a good thing, since the value of the food didn’t stack up for me.
Calle Onze is pricey, which didn’t seem all that strange considering its locale and its competitors’ prices. And I don’t mind spending more as long as I feel like it’s worth it at the end of the meal. In my case, it was not.
My dinner companion, my mom, and I shared the Chicken Fajitas de la Casa. The meat was marinated with lime and came with a side of Mexican rice and charro beans, along with a dish of chile, guacamole, queso and sour cream. I switched the charro beans for refried.
The flour tortillas are made daily in-house.
The rice was soft orange in color and had peas and tiny pieces of carrots mixed in. Usually, Mexican rice doesn’t make me take a pause, but this rice I really enjoyed.
The refried beans were made with black beans instead of pinto beans. At least that was my conclusion after noticing how dark they were. The beans were something else I really enjoyed. The flavor consisted of more than just “beans,” but rather a mix of other spices. My mom actually thought they tasted like mashed-up charro beans because of the added layers of flavor.
The chicken was hot and tender, but I wished for more because it cost $30 for a half-pound. There wasn’t much flavor-wise and in that respect I was disappointed. My mom really liked it, though, after reminding me how much of a bland eater she is.
The flour tortillas were warm and fresh, but seemed almost too thick. I felt the tortilla got in the way of what was stuffed inside of it.
Address: 222 W. 11th St.
Hours: 3–9 p.m. Monday–Tuesday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Wednesday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–midnight Friday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday
Healthy options: Yes
Star of the show: Rice and beans