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Monday, September 25, 2006

El Cholo Cantina - Review #1

El Cholo Cantina
5465 Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92604
(949) 451-0044

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El Cholo Cantina -

Since I live and work in Irvine (don't ask how that happened) it's very easy for me to get to Mexican restaurants in Irvine. I try not to focus on them too much to the detriment of restaurants in other cities but I think El Cholo Cantina may be one of the last Irvine Mexican restaurants to cover.

El Cholo Cantina - Interior Shot #1

El Cholo Cantina is part of a chain of Mexican restaurants that began in Los Angeles in 1923. If you read the history on their website you can learn from an interesting anecdote how the chain got its name, and see their claim to have started the nacho craze in America.

El Cholo Cantina - Interior Shot #2

While snacking on their chips I was thinking that I should describe the corn chips at various places in more detail. Shortly after that I got an e-mail from somebody requesting that I describe chips in more detail. So here goes: El Cholo's chips were a little on the thin side and a little on the dry side. On their own they were a little bland but with El Cholo's salsa they perked up pretty good. Most of the chips in the basket were of the standard yellow variety but there were a few red corn chips as well.

El Cholo Cantina - Blue Corn Chicken Enchiladas
Blue Corn Chicken Enchiladas

I went on this visit with two co-workers: Michael and Eugene. We were intending that at least one of the three of us would order El Cholo's signature green corn tamales but after we placed our orders we realized none of us had. Michael ordered a veggie burrito which he said was excellent, Eugene ordered the chile relleno/chicken enchilada platter, while I ordered the blue corn chicken enchiladas. Eugene asked if they were tacos when he saw them and I don't blame him as their tortillas were folded in half rather than rolled up. My dish was $13 plus change on the menu but I was only charged $9.95 for it. I later found out that it is on special on Mondays and Tuesdays.

El Cholo Cantina - Chile Relleno/Chicken Enchilada

When your check comes you get a complimentary little pecan praline cookie for each person in your party. You can also buy bags of these cookies on your way out.

El Cholo Cantina - Veggie Burrito
Veggie Burrito

Speaking of their green corn tamales, these are a famous item but they are only available between May and October each year so you still have about a month to get them before they go out of season again. You can try them at the restaurant or even have them shipped to you.

El Cholo Cantina - Flan

El Cholo Cantina earns a four Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Click on the 'el cholo' label to read our complete coverage of the El Cholo chain in Orange County (we have a separate review for each of their locations):


Chubbypanda said...


Yeah. I like El Cholo too, although I think I prefer Las Fajitas on Barranca. Oddly enough, I think my favorite is the rice that comes with everything. According to Cat, it isn't proper Mexican rice, but I like how it sort of tastes like a Vietnamese com tam (broken rice) and Mexican rice fusion.

What's your favorite Irvine Mexcian eatery?

- Chubbypanda

ChristianZ said...

Out of the places that are just in Irvine I'd probably pick Taleo as my favorite. Each place has different strong points though. Las Fajitas does have good breakfast. El Torito Grill is actually quite good.

joy said...

What a coincidence - I haven't been to El Cholo in maybe a year, but Carter and I were just there last week with a bunch of people. And just like you, I had the blue corn chicken enchiladas. And just like you, I wanted to taste the green corn tamales but lost out. Carter ordered that dish, but somehow I never managed to sneak a bite before it was all gone. That's the danger of actually socializing while eating instead of focusing completely on THE FOOD. Well, El Cholo isn't someplace you go to focus so much on the food. I mean, the food is fine, but mostly it's a nicely festive atmosphere without being too loud, so it's great for large groups and happy hour and such. Actually, this was the place I mentioned to you last night, where I was sharing the pitcher of margaritas and the waiters kept coming by and refilling my glass when I wasn't looking. Eep!

ChristianZ said...

Yes, your description of El Cholo is right on

chris said...

Hey whats up Christain? Have you been to the one in La Habrea? My coworker says that it is awesome! It's also older.

ChristianZ said...

So, what Chris are you?

Yep, I've been to the La Habra one. Covered it here:

Cafe El Cholo

Anonymous said...

El Cholo now accepts online orders from their website. It tried it 2 times now, and their to-go is as good as dine in without the cost of drinks!

ChristianZ said...

Thanks for the tip.