February 15, 2010

El Chico

I know, I know! A chain restaurant! In-the-mall!! But what can I say? They routinely kick out really tasty Tex-Mex; the chips are always crisp; the salsa is bright and hot (but not too hot), and the tea is good. Though, weirdly, offered as “Sweet or unsweet?”

    Side note – What’s up with that Texas? I’m hearing that more and more. WHEN did sweet tea become an option? I mean, I grew up drinking sweet tea – NESTEA®, as a matter of fact – only in the summer – and believe me, the error of my former ways was brought home to me quickly, once I landed in the Lone Star State. So, I don’t get it. Belles and Dandies from Atlanta and Mobile drink it sweet, I know, but I always think of Texans as guys and gals who get it plain and add their own sugar or sweet n low, if they’re not tough enough to drink it straight.
But, no matter how good the tea (or chips and salsa) is that is rarely what brings you into a Mexican restaurant.
So what does?
How about the enchiladas? A recent visit saw your friendly neighborhood Dentonista getting down on some avocado enchiladas. Avocado, mushrooms, and cheese rolled up in corn tortillas, topped with tomatillo sauce and served up over sautéed spinach. Ooooh, they were gooood, y’all.
BUT, they were nowhere near as good as the chicken and spinach enchiladas I had on the previous visit.
Those enchiladas were a revelation.

Fajita chicken, spinach and cheese in corn tortillas and topped with a ‘chipotle wine sauce’. Whatever it was, it was rich and smoky and unlike anything I’ve ever eaten off an enchilada. I practically had to sit on my hands to keep from stuffing my face, two fist style.
It was so good I was practically meowing.
Uh huh. At a chain.

Now, to be fair, this is a Texas-based chain. In fact the first El Chico, the proto or Ur El Chico was a tamale stand at the Kaufman County Fair, in 1926.

And, as an added bonus to all that authenticity, both these enchilada meals were off some ‘new’ menu and only $7.99.
Yeah. $7.99.
But wait, there’s still more.
Check those coupon booklets you get in the Sunday paper. I got to use a buy one get one coupon for this meal. That’s right.
Cheap, delicious, local-ish. What’s not to love?

Well, one thing really. There’s still a smoking section in this little restaurant.
It’s at the very back of the restaurant. In fact, it’s on the ‘outside’ or ‘patio’ area, which is in-the-mall.
Do you know where, exactly? Directly across from the kids’ play area!
The mall should be ashamed of itself.
El Chico corporate should be ashamed of themselves, and if you’re feeling particularly trashy, you can have a smoke while watching the kiddies play and be ashamed of yourself.

** 2011 Update! -  El Chico no longer has a smoking section! I should delete the above paragraphs, but I really enjoyed my rant. So I won't.**

Everyone else - Keep your eyes peeled for coupon circulars, your mind open to good food at the sketchy mall, and try to sit towards the front of the restaurant.

1 comment:

eatafajita said...

El Chico serves the Best Enchiladas in the state of Texas! No wonder they have been around for over 70 years.