Bon appetit means "good appetite"; its counterpart in Latin American countries is provecho, which doesn't have a literal translation related to food. Both are common ways of wishing one an enjoyable meal. This is practically foolproof at Provecho Fresh Mexican Cuisine in Colorado Springs.
Upon arriving, chips and two types of salsa arrive at the table. Except these are no ordinary sauces: they're above average with one featuring spicy, roasted red peppers and the other mild tomatillos. Both are house made and disappear quickly.
I was pleasantly surprised to see molletes (pronounced mo-yet ays) ($5.99) on the menu. This is a typical Mexican snack known for its simplicity and basic flavors. They're what kids might have after school or when teens get together with friends because they are easy to prepare and usually inexpensive. Slices of bolillos, a baguette-like roll, are covered with refried beans, topped with cheddar cheese and pico de gallo. It's not unusual for molletes to be served for breakfast in Mexico. (Provecho is open for breakfast on weekends, and these are on the breakfast menu.)
The food is lively, but it's unlike that served in many standard south-of-the- border restaurants. After all, raisins and plantains are not always the ingredients used to imbue a subtle sweet element into an otherwise savory, occasionally piquant dish. This is the case with the chili relleno Guadalajara ($13.99). A Poblano chili is stuffed with a ground beef and pork mixture featuring the above mentioned sweeteners. If it hadn't tasted so good I would have been disappointed at the absence of the expected melted, gooey cheese.
I've found my new go-to place for mole. Here it's dark like a cup of really strong, rich coffee and even a little bit bitter, but the mingling of its sweet and subtle heat aspects soon overtake the taste buds. The version here is mole poblano, which combines numerous spices, including cinnamon and cloves, with garlic and raisins - and more. The more-than-ample serving of a chicken breast awash in mole ($14.99) includes Spanish rice and a choice of corn or flour tortillas.
The fish tacos, with lightly-battered-then-fried pieces of whitefish, were refreshing and colorful thanks to the shredded cabbage. The subtle avocado vinaigrette was barely detectable, but that didn't matter thanks to the fruity mango salsa.
It's difficult to go wrong when ordering fajitas. What set Provecho's dish apart from others was the tangy flavor of marinade on the tender pieces of beef. The requisite sautéed onions, green and red bell peppers didn't disappoint either. It was another vibrant dish and quite filling. Cilantro rice accompanies the relleno, the Baja fish tacos ($12.99) and the beef fajitas ($15.99).
When dining out, I appreciate having the chef or owner stop by to check to see if we've enjoyed the meal. Such was the case at Provecho. He said he was pleased to see that we had not left much on the plates. It was, indeed, an indication of how much we liked the food.
Provecho offers a full bar. We tried the house margarita ($6.50) and the fresh lime ($7) rendition. The latter was too tart for me, but the former was just right. The restaurant, which opened in November, has a few nods to Mexican décor. Service was friendly, but it was the food that commanded our attention and sated our appetites.