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Friday, March 26, 2010, I hadn't planned to dine at a Mexican restaurant, as I was in the mood for a hot dog, and on my way over to The Dog House.  But I arrived at the restaurant only to find it closed... What to do?  On my way to The Dog House, I had noticed Muchas Gracias, and had filed it away in my memory, as Mexican cuisine is one of my favorites.  Since a hot dog wasn't going to happen tonight, I headed over to Muchas Gracias, with Mexican food on my mind.  Editor's Note:  I dined at The Dog House the following evening, click on link to read the write-up.

Photo:  It's 1930 on a rainy Friday evening in Eugene, and my truck is parked in front of Muchas Gracias, and I'm the only customer in the restaurant.

Muchas Gracias is an ultra-modern, ultra clean restaurant, that utilizes the same format as countless other less-than-authentic, fast food, Mexican-oriented restaurants.  You walk inside, past the spotlessly clean booths and walk up to the counter, where you're greeted by a lighted menu board, and a friendly gentleman behind the counter who takes your order.  The menu offers giant burritos, combination plates, tacos, tortas, enchiladas, tostadas, nachos, breakfast burritos and special combinations.  If you have an appetite at o'dark thirty, no problema, as the restaurant is open 24 hours a day.  For future reference, they offer a printed version of their menu that you can take home; I took one home as I collect menus from various restaurants where I've eaten.

Photo:  Does this look like a Mexican restaurant?  Don't let the spotlessly clean, fast-food style decor fool you, as Muchas Gracias serves delicious food.

Photo:  If you look closely, you can see the two guys preparing my meal.  The guy on the right is cooking carne asada at the griddle, while my fish is cooking in the deep fryer, to the left of the photo.

I felt like using my Spanish, so I asked the counter guy if they offered take-out orders - I had just completed a grueling nine hour drive from Sacramento to Eugene - and he seemed surprised that I spoke Spanish, but he assured me that they do offer entrees, para llavar.  So I placed my order for a carne asada torta and a fish taco, with all the fixin's, and was treated to watching the two guys behind the counter prepare my order.  Like most fast food restaurants, garnishes are pre-made, and placed in stainless steel trays, but I watched one of the guys take out a piece of fish from the refrigerator, roll it in batter, and place it in the deep fryer.  He also took a few pieces of marinated steak strips, and placed them and a torta roll on the griddle.  What I'm getting at is that the food served at Muchas Gracias if fresh, not pre-made, and prepared from real ingredients, as opposed to something freshly unloaded from an institutional food supply truck.

Photo:  I opened up my torta and taco to get a photo of the delicious ingredients.  My only criticism was the shredded lettuce, which was probably included to cater to the tastes of Oregonians.  You will rarely find shredded lettuce in Mexico, as shredded cabbage is the green garnish of choice.  Also missing were the cilantro, diced green onions and radishes, but I had to remind myself that I was in Oregon, not Mexico.

Back at my motel room, after enjoying a couple of beers, I was treated to a delicious meal of surprisingly authentic Mexican cuisine.  No, it's a far cry from the food served on the streets of Tijuana, but it's equally distant from the likes of Taco Bell.  I'd place the authenticity somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, but the taste was definitely way over on the delicious side of the aisle.  The price was right, the quantity was great; Muchas Gracias serves a quality product.  

You know what, next time I visit Eugene, I think I'll stop in again.  Highly recommended.

Muchas Gracias
1535 Franklin Blvd.
Eugene, OR 97403
541 344-5254

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