Smile Politely

Mas Amigos: No frills Mexican freshness

Once upon a time, Mas Amigos had previous locations on Springfield Avenue and University Avenue. But now Mas Amigos fans can now find the restaurant at 705 N Neil Street, Champaign.

There are around 10 booths in in the small, no frills restaurant; the owner and staff serve customers quickly and politely. I was there for lunch and had limited time. I arrived at 11 a.m., which is opening time but didn’t find a crowd, so it was easy to get to find a seat. This is a seat yourself establishment; I chose a seat in the middle of the restaurant and was promptly greeted with salsa and chips.

The chips are layered, light, crispy, and perfectly seasoned tortilla chip goodness. I decided to enhance the chips with an order of cheese dip and guacamole ($4 each). Oh my! The cheese dip is thicker than what is carried in most Mexican restaurants, with a touch of spice that goes perfectly with the chips. The guacamole is super fresh with chunks of avocados mixed with cilantro, diced tomatoes, and onions. The chips were a little fragile for dipping, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying.

The menu is reflective of the atmosphere, providing a simple two-page selection of Mexican dishes including tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and elote (Mexican corn, which I didn’t try but will next time).

Lunch specials are located on a chalk board to the right of the takeout counter. My lunch date and I decided to try the specials. For $7.50 the choices were a burrito with either steak, chicken, chorizo or ground beef wrapped in a flour tortilla, or tacos offering the same meat fillings on a corn tortilla served with rice and beans. This is one of the first Mexican restaurants I have visited that offers ground beef on the menu.

We decided on burritos and tacos. Burritos can be ordered with cheese sauce on the top, which is the same as the cheese dip we ordered as an appetizer. If you don’t specify, the burrito is served without the cheese sauce. The tacos are offered either Mexican style, which is topped with cilantro and onion, or American style, which is lettuce, tomato, and cheese. 

The burritos were loaded with delicious meat, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. The chorizo was very flavorful! The steak was chopped and grilled into small bites that were very tender, and accompanied by the same filling as the chorizo burrito. The chicken was to die for! It was very, very tender, slightly shredded and cooked to perfection, not dry or stringy. All the burritos were extremely fresh!

I ordered both Mexican and American style tacos — both were super fresh just like the burrito. The corn tortilla did not overpower the flavors; it provided a subtle corn flavor that mixed well with the other flavors in the taco.

For drinks, Mas Amigos offers a selection of Coke products and a few Mexican sodas. Any meal would go perfectly with a very cold beer. Alcohol is not currently served; I’m not sure if this is something in the works.

At the end of the meal I had quite a bit of guacamole left so I asked for a to-go box so I could share the goodness with my co-workers. The owner not only brought me a to-go box but also a bag of fresh chips to take with me. 

The entire meal was served in less than 30 minutes, which allowed me a little extra time at lunch. I will definitely be back and hope they extend the drinks to include some Mexican beers that would pair so well with this tasty food.

Mas Amigos
705 N Neil St
M-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F + Sa 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
(217) 607-0499

Photos by Heidi Warren, except where noted

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