First bites: Pepe’s Mexican & Seafood Restaurant

Mexican food places are a dime a dozen here in the Inland Empire.

Some are better than others, obviously.

Based on what I had the other day, I’m willing to think Pepe’s Mexican & Seafood Restaurant in Banning is one of the better ones.

All I had was a combination plate — a chicken tamale and a cheese enchilada ($8.99) — but the tamale was one of the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant.

It was moist, not too firm and loaded with flavor…in a word, delicious!

The enchilada wasn’t quite as spectacular, but still good.

Both the rice and beans were fresh and tasted homemade.

My dining partner had the flautas dinner ($9.99). I thought the flautas could’ve sat in the fryer a little longer, but weren’t bad otherwise.

I’m looking forward to returning and exploring their menu further.

The restaurant itself was recently renovated and is very modern, comfortable and inviting. It’s a stark contrast to the more dated exterior. They added a full bar during the renovation.

Pepe’s Mexican & Seafood Restaurant is at 2579 W. Ramsey St., Banning. You’ll find pictures of the renovated interior and a link to their full menu on their Tumblr blog.