Chain restaurants are reliable. A diner knows that the food at the Taco Bell in Tupelo is going to be just like the Taco Bell in Toledo. Consistency is the hallmark of all chain stores. For independent restaurants, on the other hand, it is their uniqueness that is their badge. The one-owner or family-owned restaurant in any town is not going to be exactly like any other anywhere. Hence, I find it adventurous to seek out the local, independent restaurants when I visit a town. Most of the time I am rewarded with fresh, local ingredients and a unique atmosphere. Such was the case on a recent visit to Mexico Lindo in Newton, Mississippi.
To get to Mexico Lindo take the Newton exit on Interstate 20 in east Mississippi, drive past the familiar chain restaurants, make a turn or two and find the downtown. Downtown Newton is not on U.S. Highway 80, which runs parallel to the Interstate. It is a stone’s throw to the south. It started out as a stagecoach stop a long time ago. When you see a building with a colorful mural on its side you will have arrived in downtown. Just down the street is Mexico Lindo, which is owned and operated by Mario Leora and his family. If authenticity is what you search for in a Mexican restaurant, Mexico Lindo is the right place. Yes, it is somewhat tacky-Mexican decorated, but it is the food that makes it truly authentic. The character of the place during my visit felt more like a family restaurant than Mexican restaurant. There were local families having lunch in the dining room, and when checking out there were small children here and there. There were also a few local characters who were over in the corner solving the world’s problems.
Finally, be sure to ask Senora Leora about bullfighting, for he is a former bullfighter. An authentic Mexican restaurant in a small Mississippi downtown. Not a bad lunch break.