My mother and I haven’t had Mexican food in a while—not since we ate a take-out lunch from El Mira Mar in October. So, on January 21 we decided to take advantage of the dry weather before it disappeared and drove up to Pine Grove to pick up lunch from Las Minas.

It’s easy to miss Las Minas (Spanish for The Mines) from Highway 88. It’s right next to a Shell gas station mini-mart, which is next door to Belinda & Steve’s Feed, Seed, and Supply on the south side of the highway. After scouting the Las Minas website and Google Maps, I figured out that Las Minas has a drive-thru at the back of the building so we could get our food quickly.

The Las Minas website menu is not well ordered. For example, the page with lunch specials has many options that say “dinner” on them, and there some other options on the Las Minas Specials webpage that have lunch and dinner prices. I decided to order one of those specials, the flautas. My mother was concerned that all the lunch specials would be too spicy, so she ordered a shrimp salad.

My mother called ahead and ordered, but the person who took the order decided to give me chicken flautas. I wanted beef, which was my fault because I should have specified the meat. My mother called them back and the Las Minas staff had no trouble changing the order. They also took my mother’s credit card information over the phone, and we told them we would be there to pick up our lunches in a half-hour.

I drove up with my mother because we thought she would have to sign a paper slip. When we arrived at the drive-up window, there was no one else in line. The cheerful woman who opened the window pulled down her mask to talk to us, which was a little disconcerting but only a little since my mother and I were in our car and there was fresh air between the car and the window.

Once we told her who we were, we received our food contained in various Styrofoam containers in a plastic bag. The employee told us we didn’t need to sign a credit card receipt, so we were on our way and back home in Jackson in about 20 minutes.

In addition to our meals in Styrofoam boxes, we had two lidded cups of salsa, another lidded cup of salad dressing, and a bag filled with tortilla chips.

My Meal

I started off with the chips and salsa, as I would if we were eating inside a restaurant since that’s what Mexican restaurants start off with (at least in my experience). The flour tortilla chips were flavorful and the taste of the salsa started off sweet. A few seconds later, I felt the kick of medium heat.

Las Minas Chips and Salsa

When I ordered the flautas, I wasn’t sure if the special came with sides of refried beans, Spanish rice, and a lettuce salad, or if I would have to select from one of the three. It turned out I got all three, and I found a small scoop of rice sitting atop a bed of refried beans and cheese. Instead of lettuce, I found guacamole for dipping.

The two flautas had good crunch but weren’t over-fried. Both flautas had a little bit of melted cheese on top, and the insides had some cheese and nuggets of ground beef inside. The flautas went well with the guacamole as well as sour cream that I didn’t find until I started eating the Spanish rice.

The rice had moderate spices but wasn’t hot, and the clumps of rice stayed on my fork without any trouble. The refried beans were typical of what I’ve found at many Mexican restaurants: A glob of beans and cheese, but you can’t taste any individual beans.

Mom’s Meal

My mother’s shrimp salad looked straightforward with a bed of lettuce with cheese-covered grilled shrimp in the middle. Sliced tomatoes sat in the corners of the box, and slices of avocado between each tomato slice. And lots of shredded cheese (maybe Monterey jack) on top. The menu said there were bell peppers, but my mother couldn’t see or taste any peppers.

She thought the salad dressing in the separate lidded cup was tartar sauce at first. When my mother took a taste of it, she realized it was spicy salad dressing and so she left it in its cup. Despite that, she thought the vegetables were crispy and tasty, and the shrimp was easy to eat.

Her only disappointment was that there was a lot of water at the bottom of the Styrofoam box as she finished the salad, but this is the natural result of having fresh vegetables in a salad.

Las Minas Shrimp Salad

The Verdict

For $7.99, I got a substantial lunch. Unfortunately, I had to take the chips off the lid of the Styrofoam container so I could heat it up for about 30 seconds, but that’s all it took for my lunch to be nice and warm again.

My mother said that the shrimp she had in her salad was much like the small shrimp you can buy at a grocery store. She contrasted the salad with the shrimp salad she had from El Mira Mar three months earlier, and she noted that the El Mira Mar shrimp was much bigger. Otherwise, she couldn’t tell the difference between the shrimp salads at El Mira Mar and Las Minas.

We bring out our green light for Las Minas. Their lunches fill you up for the rest of the afternoon for a reasonable price. The total price for our lunches was a little over $19.

Want to Try Them?

Las Minas is open every day from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. for lunch and dinner. They’re located at 20220 Highway 88 in Pioneer—just look for the Shell station on the right side of the road as you travel east on the highway.

If you want to order, you can view the menu and specials on the Las Minas website. They only offer takeout orders while Amador County remains in the purple virus tracking tier. When you’re ready to order, call them at 209-296-6400.

Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.