If it's frog's legs on the menu it must be French, borsch then it's Russian, sweet and sour pork is Chinese, and so sour cream, guacamole and tacos represent Mexican. La Placita, in Times Square, conforms to this familiar lexicon of restaurant stereotypes. It has been turning out the tacos since 1993. Previously it spurned the Tex-Mex school of Mexican cuisine, where everything was smothered in sour cream and guacamole, but since March this year it has been under new management - Paramount Restaurants. La Placita's executive chef, Luis F. Porras, is from northwest Mexico and has been with the restaurant since it started. 'People thought La Placita was a fine dining restaurant,' he said. 'We hope it is now more user-friendly; the menu is shorter but we still offer traditional Mexican cuisine with some regional variations.' Although he admitted sour cream was not traditionally Mexican, he said: 'Guacamole is everywhere as avocados are native to Mexico.' Placita means meeting place. In Mexico this is where everyone congregates in the middle of the village, often to the music of a local band. Certainly by 5pm this restaurant is one happy placita, with half-priced drinks until 9pm. You can have a margarita - tequila, cointreau syrup and freshly squeezed Mexican limes in a salt-edged tumbler ($26 during happy hour). The combination of thirst-inducing salt and the complimentary tortilla chips and spicy salsa sauce only increases the amount of times these hefty tumblers are raised to the lips. La Placita boasts 12 brands of tequila. This potent alcohol is made from the agave plant which is similar to cactus. Only agave alcohol made in the town of Tequila can be called tequila. If it is made anywhere else in Mexico it is called mezcal. La Placita imports 440 to 550 kilograms of Mexican limes each week. Mr Porras prefers these limes for their superior flavour and higher juice content. As well as cocktails, La Placita has a good selection of Mexican beers. Filipino band Los Ochos Latinos provide catchy Mexican music, which later inspires diners to forsake their chairs for the dance floor. The new menu offers all you would expect from a Mexican restaurant - tortilla-based starters, with various permutations of salsa, sour cream and guacamole. The salads are more inspired. Ensalada azteca is Mexican cactus salad. No mouthful of prickles, in fact you get the opposite - slimy green strips quite like cooked green pepper. It is surprisingly refreshing. Ensalada caesar, served with chicken, has found its original home. This ubiquitous restaurant staple originated in Tijuana, Mexico, by a chef caught with a dining room full of hungry guests, but with only eggs, olive oil, garlic, lettuce, anchovies and bread. Beef, pork, chicken, melted cheese and guacamole are served in a selection of carbohydrate carriers. In flour tortillas they become burritos, in corn tortillas they are tacos or enchiladas. Fajitas are a make-it-yourself meal of sizzling marinated meats, salsas and flour tortillas. Main courses are easy to relate to - sirloin steak, minute steak, lamb chops. We were impressed by the pierna de pollo chicken leg - marinated with chilli sauce, pineapple juice, honey and spices and served with guacamole, salsa and spicy potatoes. There is also a selection of dishes that sound like a Mexican interpretation of the familiar - garoupa with mango sauce, sauteed prawns, sea bass, stir-fried beef, pasta with mushroom and cheese. On the short desert menu are crepes, chocolate cake, tequila fruit salad and white chocolate cheesecake. Coffee flan, billed as 'Mexico's favourite' dessert, is a bland comforting custard, which is no doubt welcome after a chilli-based meal. Gone is the previous menu's chilli ice-cream, but you can have La Placita kahlua or vanilla ice-cream, and of course a margarita sorbet. Dinner for two with three courses, margaritas and beer came to just over $1,000. La Placita offers diners a happy, friendly dining and drinking experience where there is no danger of setting your mouth on fire by an errant chilli or encountering anything too unfamiliar. While I might lament the disappearance of the stuffed chilli and the chocolate mole sauce, La Placita is pleasing the majority and will continue to live up to its name. La Placita, 13/F Food Forum, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2506-3308, Hours: noon to 1am.