On a Sunday in mid-December, 2022, Ms. Karen, Neighbor Roy, and I visited Mojo Cuban Kitchen at Grant Road and Campbell in Tucson. We arrived at noon, and the parking lot was already packed. But one of the cars pulled out just as we arrived, so we parked right by the front door. Upon entering, it was apparent that we had to order at the counter. I told Ms. Karen what I wanted and promptly sat down in a comfortable booth.
Having seated myself, a waitress arrived with eating utensils and napkins, and water for the three of us. That gave me a chance to inquire as to how to pronounce the name of this place. She responded, Moho’s, as in the sauce. OK, then. I stand corrected. She did offer that we could pronounce it Mojo’s, given the ambiance. So you are good, either way.
I had ordered a Cubano: this was ham, slow-roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard ($12.00). Ms. Karen ordered two appetizers: Papas Rellenas that is two crispy stuffed potato balls with picadillo filling ($5.00). Plus, Croquetas, which are two Cuban fritters with spinach and cheese ($5.00). After our waitress served her meal, which she assumed was appetizers for the crew, she brought some sauce for dipping when asked.
Ms. Karen did not much care for the Cuban fritters but really liked her Papas Rellenas.
Roy ordered Mojo Chicken which was a slow-roasted Mojo marinated 1/2 chicken with sautéed onions served with Rice, Black Beans, and Maduros ($17.00).
I’ll let Roy tell you about his experience.
“Today, Jim, his wife Karen, and I dined at a new (to me) Cuban-style restaurant on the north side of Grant Rd. We were able to park next to the restaurant. Upon entry, a sign gave us directions to order. On the way to order was a large placard of menu items. Most of the sign is in Spanish, identifying the various available items. I finally made a choice of a chicken dish. They did not have hot tea, so I took a lemonade.
The restaurant has a high ceiling painted white. There were a few large tables occupied with patrons. All of which raised the volume of voice level, but not uncomfortable. I was given a numbered plaque, to show the wait staff where my order was to be delivered. My order arrived promptly. What arrived was a large plate featuring a 1/2 roasted chicken, 3 fried plantains, a fair-sized portion of white rice, a small container of black bean soup, and some fried onions, quite a large lunch.
I had never eaten Cuban-style food, so I really did not know what to expect. I have eaten in so many Mexican-style restaurants, I expected a spicy dining experience. Regretfully, the food, while hot, large, and visually appealing was rather bland. I did enjoy the chicken and the fried plantains, and had enough to take a sizable amount home for later.
Rating a newer restaurant of an unknown cuisine, is difficult. The restaurant was clean, the wait staff prompt and efficient. But I went for the food and in this category, and only rating one chicken lunch, which I found to be bland and with tip was $24.00 is bit high. So, I can only give it 3 saguaros, and a determination not to go back.”
Personally, I found the Cuban background music loud, and as the restaurant filled up with the lunch crowd, the ambient sound was disturbing. My Cubano sandwich, covered as it was with thin French fries, was very good. I had ordered Iced Tea with lemon, but got something else, and no lemon. The bread for my sandwich was either very well-toasted or stale, but in any event it was difficult to cut with a knife.
Like Roy, I award Mojo’s with 3 Saguaros. The service was OK, the physical ambiance was fine. But the sound level was unacceptable. And neither of us like counter-ordering. What’s the point of going out to eat if you can’t sit and be served?
Ms. Karen here: I went this time as the boys went on a Sunday for a change and not their usual Friday. On top of this, I recalled going to eat at a Cuban Restaurant in Los Angeles when we lived their years ago. The experience had been very good. For some reason I remembered the food to be spicier than it was at Mojo. The internet however corrected me. Cuban food is NOT as spicy as Mexican, and has influences of Caribbean and African, Salty, sweet, sour and tangy but not “Spicy”. Okay, I stand corrected.
Mojo looks to be suited to fast food and takeout. At Grant and Campbell, it would be close enough to the University of Arizona to cater to the young crowd. You could order online and pick up your meal at the window or order at the counter and they will bring your meal to your table. OR you can use the QR code to be seated and order with your phone. Take your pick. You serve yourself, drinks and silverware. There is a stack of GO boxes there as well in case you have leftovers as neighbor Roy frequently does.
I did not find it unbearably loud, It was bright, white and sunny and had a good feel to it. What I did not like was the fast food feeling. But it is what it is. If you are around the University, you might give it a try. I would order something other than 2 appetizers for lunch though. Ms. Karen, webmistress.