Coyote Jane's Saloon
At Coyote Jane's Saloon, clockwise from bottom: broiled lime mahi mahi taco with vine-ripened tomatoes and avocado mash on a deep-fried tortilla with a grilled lime; Tres Con Queso Cheese with crusted tricolor corn chips and hot lime chili sauce, and the OYO Vodka appetizer with a grilled French baguette, Stella blue cheese, rosemary spike and Spanish olives. Photo by Michael A. Foley/Rycus Assoc.
Coyote Jane’s Saloon is a new effort by the folks who brought us Banana Bean Café and its imaginative Floribbean food. Located on South High Street in Merion Village, the restaurant is in an older brick building reminiscent of German Village rehabs. The décor evokes Santa Fe. An interesting juxtaposition.
The place opened before Thanksgiving, closed and in mid January was just opening again. There were some rough edges: Not everything listed on the menu was available and the hours of operation weren’t easy to discover, even from the staff.
But here’s what matters most: The food, with a creative Southwestern flair, was pretty good. The first thing I tried was the funky OYO Vodka appetizer. It featured a good-sized shot of our hometown vodka, which is definitely worth getting to know. The stuff was smooth and tasty. It was accompanied by a bruschetta with Stilton Britt blue cheese and Spanish olives. A bright green lettuce leaf was underneath the shot for color, and the four olives were on a swizzle stick.
I also quite liked Tres Con Queso Cheese. The little sticks of cheese were rolled in crumbled tri-colored corn chips, deep fried and served with a red chili sauce. The result was savory, crunchy, delicious and quite hot (be careful not to burn your mouth). Black and Tan onion rings were only average, with a beer batter that slipped off. One appetizer was built in small baked redskins, halved and hollowed out, but left a generous rim of potato. It was filled with cheese, bacon, sour cream and guacamole. The Green Apple and Smoked Bacon Salad was quite satisfactory, adding good greens, blue cheese and red onions to the named ingredients with a not-too-heavily-poured house mayo dressing. Nice restraint!
Carne Pablo Nachos was a heap of chips layered with commendable amounts of the usual toppings, but they could have been hotter. And the vegan black bean soup was sticky thick and a lot better tasting than one expects a vegan dish to be. The Puerco tacos featured really tender pork and a house slaw. They were quite good, as was the mahi mahi taco.
What Coyote Jane’s calls a burro is a 12-inch flour tortilla filled like a burrito. The Wild Bunch Burro came stuffed with your choice of filet, roasted pork or pulled chicken simmered in a tomato sofrito with quick-fired vegetables and cilantro lime rice for quite a pleasing mouthful. You also can get your burro deep fried, which adds a crisp glaze and not much grease.
Coyote Jane’s has a new take on the hamburger bun; this version was made out of brioche dough. It’s a good deal since it was more tender than the usual bun and just marginally sweet. Besides, it did a heck of a job holding the burger. I had the Hop Sing Green Chili Burger and liked it a lot. It was cooked to at least medium, but was still tender and juicy (quite a feat, by the way). The trimmings of cheddar, deep-fried jalapeño sections and green chili agave pesto were aromatic and flavorful. Altogether, it was a fine burger experience.
The wines on the menu were not all available and, for some reason, three of the five whites were Rieslings. The beer offerings were limited, although the staff said more interesting selections will be available.
Oh, well, the food was interesting and you can get a drink. What’s not to like?
Coyote Jane’s Saloon
1586 S. High St.
Atmosphere: Relaxed blend of Santa Fe and Merion Village.
Recommended dishes: OYO Vodka appetizer, Tres Con Queso Cheese, Puerco taco, mahi mahi taco, Hop Sing Green Chili Burger.
Price range: Appetizers $3 to $8; tacos $2 to $9; burros $5 to $9; sandwiches $3 to $10.
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday 5 to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday till midnight.
Service: Helpful, personable, not always fast.
Reservations: Not accepted.