Cancun’s flan is so good that it tempts us to have dessert first.

Eat the flan first? It’s all good at Cancun

I’ve never had all that much of a sweet tooth. When it comes to the flan at Cancun Mexican Restaurant, though, that’s a whole ‘nother story: I might even eat dessert first. Yes, it’s that good.

Cancun, an early 2017 arrival, has developed a good following, for its food and service and, no doubt, for the tequila drinks and happy-hour offerings in its long, inviting bar. Bright habanero-orange walls, high-backed booths and wood-look tables fill the long, narrow dining room, with bright sombreros a colorful wall mural depicting palm trees on a sunny Cancun beach. A large screen is tuned to Spanish-language television.

The eight-page menu offers the usual Mexican-restaurant options in abundance. Affordable pricing puts Cancun squarely into the category of good cheap eats, with a huge collection of 35 dinner specials under $10, and two dozen lunch specials from $6.99 to $9.99. Only a few fancy seafood dinners break into double digits, and they top out at $15.99 (for the Del Mar trio of lobster, tilapia and shrimp).

Mary, my sister Amy, and I enjoyed a satisfying lunch the other day, starting with good quality chips and zippy salsas and ending with that memorable flan.

Hearty, flavorful, exceptional tortilla soup at Cancun.
Hearty, flavorful, exceptional tortilla soup at Cancun.
In between we enjoyed a particularly well-made tortilla soup ($3.99 for a cup, $7.99 for a bowl). It started with a classic clear chicken broth infused with bits of tomato and green chilies and onions, loaded with shredded white-meat chicken and wedges of avocado, with plenty of room left in the bowl to drop in crisply fried tortilla strips and squeeze in a squirt or two of fresh lime.

The pork tamale at Cancun is offbeat but generously proportioned and meaty.
The pork tamale at Cancun is offbeat but generously proportioned and meaty.
An oversize tamale ($6.99) was good if idiosyncratic. The corn husk wrapper had been removed in the kitchen, leaving a fat masa cylinder marked with its imprint, filled with savory shredded pork. A generous portion of ground beef taco meat was spooned over one end with a dollop of hot-and-spicy red chile sauce and shredded white cheese.

A veggie fajita plate ($8.29) was fine, a mix of grilled broccoli florets, red, green and yellow bell pepper strips and onions, hot from the grill, with well-made Mexican rice, refried beans, lettuce and pico de gallo plus a foil-wrapped roll of tortillas alongside.

Cheesy enchiladas bathed in piquant chile sauce at Cancun Mexican Restaurant.
Cheesy enchiladas bathed in piquant chile sauce at Cancun Mexican Restaurant.
A three-enchilada lunch special ($6.99) was a hit too, although I’d have preferred a little crema or a lighter ration of cotija cheese to its heavy, pizza-like coating of melted mozzarella. Otherwise, the enchiladas were fine, tender tortillas blanketing melted cheese, and topped with a really excellent red chile puree.

Of course we saved room for that caramel-scented, silken and creamy flan ($3.99), pictured above. Its smooth, creamy texture and seductive burnt-sugar and dairy flavors with subtle hints of vanilla and orange made a perfect finish. I’d definitely consider eating it first.

A filling lunch for three was a thrifty $30.27, plus a $7 tip.

Cancun Mexican Restaurant
808 Lyndon Lane

Robin Garr’s rating: 85 points

Noise level: A happy but not capacity crowd generated a constant but not deafening buzz. (Average sound level 73-79 dB.)

Accessibility: The entrance and restrooms are accessible to wheelchair users, but it takes some arm strength to open the heavy front door.