PLATTSBURGH - When sitting down for a meal at The Smoked Pepper, don't expect to get an ordinary taco.
The Mexican restaurant, located at 13 City Hall Place, offers only authentic cuisine straight from Mexico.
"We base all of our recipes and our cooking on traditional Mexican recipes from different regions of Mexico," explained owner and head chef Mark Castro.
Some of the menu options include Guajilotte en Mole Rojas, a slow-cooked turkey breast simmered in a red mole sauce; chile rellenos fundido, a beer battered Poblano chile pepper stuffed with three cheeses; and various quesadillas. There are also numerous seafood options as well.
Castro, who has owned the restaurant for five of the seven years since it opened, works to remain true to the Mexican culture, not only with the recipes, but with how he gets many of the ingredients.
"People don't realize Mexican is not just Tex-Mex," he said. "It's not just tacos and beans and rice, and a drive thru with a burrito. It's made up of the family going out to the farmer's market or gathering from their own farm, and then preparing whatever they have."
Castro receives a good portion of the ingredients from places such as Fledging Crow in Keeseville, a community supported agriculture program.
"Why buy from an outside source, when we can put our money right back into our neighbors' pocket," he explained.
The food at the restaurant is also the freshest possible," Castro said.
"Our inventory doesn't sit on the shelves," he explained. "We make salsa sometimes two to three times a day."
Another popular part of the restaurant can be found behind the bar.
Although there are various types of alcoholic beverages available at The Smoked Pepper, the most popular are the margaritas.
"I think they've grown [in popularity] as our clientele grows," said Castro. "It's something we're known for, that's for sure."
However, Castro can't take credit for the margaritas. That he passes on to the restaurant manager Glenn LaBarre.
"He's the master mixologist when it comes to that," Castro laughed. "He's very good at what he does."
With at least 15 types of margarita flavors available, and numerous types of tequila in stock, Castro said they have a pretty strict training process when it comes to the beverage.
With the popularity of the restaurant - Castro admits it's often difficult for people to get a table on Friday and Saturday nights - Castro has some plans for the future, including expansion.
"We're looking at branching out," he said. "There's nothing that we won't take on. Both my wife and I have a very strong background in catering and we're more than willing to take on any catering job there is."
The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a special brunch menu available.
For more information, call The Smoked Pepper at 566-4688.