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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Charo Chicken - Review #2

Charo Chicken
17612 E 17th St
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 832-1300

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UPDATE: This location has closed.


No More Mr. Nice Guy

I think I'm known on this blog as being the nice guy, maybe too nice, often perceived as being afraid of pointing out anything negative about any place I eat at. I will freely admit that I am generally positive in my reviews but it's not exactly out of fear of offending somebody or some restaurant as it is that I realize that one bad item or one bad service experience at a particular restaurant may very well be a fluke, an isolated incident, a random occurrence per se, that is not representative of that restaurant's overall way of doing business. If you get something that tastes bad or you have a problem with the service then there's nothing wrong with bringing it up to the management and getting it cleared up but I do think there's something wrong with not saying anything about it to them and then posting it all over the Internet. The restaurant may have a hard time living down something that was an isolated incident.


Or if there is a food item you didn't like there may still be other items on the menu that you would like if you just gave them a try. I have seen people write off a restaurant based on not liking one item. Sometimes I have seen these people go later, with some degree of persuasion, back to the same restaurant and try something different and then be converted to the place but some of these people dig in their heels, refuse to go back and miss out on things they would've enjoyed. I've also seen people go back to a place they had previously written off, order the thing they didn't like before instead of trying different stuff, then entirely write the place off forever. Yes, it defies logic, but we humans can be funny people and I am not without my quirks.

This leads me to the fact that I recently found a coupon in the paper for Charo Chicken advertising that they are now serving Carne Asada and Barbacoa Steak (or Chicken) as meat choices in addition to their obvious: chicken. I clipped the coupon and a week or so later I went to the Irvine location excitedly waiting to try the new options. The clerk there though told me that the two new meats were only available at a couple test restaurants. So I ordered a Moe's Favorite Potato (I conveniently ignore the fact that they now call it "Moe's Famous Potato") and thoroughly enjoyed it, as I always do, and saved the coupon for later use.

A week or two later I picked up my slowly disintegrating coupon from my desk and headed to the Tustin location. This was one of two or three test restaurants so they had the meats so I ordered a Carne Asada tostada and a Barbacoa Chicken taco. The problem was the Carne Asada was too tough and dry to chew. I had a few little nibbles as it slowly dawned on me that I was engaged in a lost cause. I nibbled at the non-meat portion of the tostada then just dumped the whole thing and moved on to the taco. The barbacoa chicken in the taco was definitely more edible but I don't think chicken should ever be served in dry, crisp taco shells. Bad combo.


I have in no way been turned off of going to Charo Chicken. I do still love their Moe's Favorite Potato and the service has always been good but I'm thinking maybe they better stick with chicken as their signature meat. Has anybody else had an experience with the carne asada at Charo Chicken? If somebody can report a good experience I am entirely open to going there and trying it again.


Diamond Dog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChristianZ said...

So, some are regulated by corporate and some are not? How do you tell them apart before you go in one?

Griffin said...

This is disappointing. I was planning on going there soon to get their carne asada. Thanks for saving me the trip!

ChristianZ said...

Well, I may have had a bad batch. I'm kind of waiting for a second opinion from someone.

melissa said...

Well, I won't likely ever be giving you your second opinion, since I never eat there (not for any particular reason, I just don't get over to one), but I wanted to comment on two things.

One, I never assumed you were entirely a Mr. Nice Guy since you were one of the loudest voices on my Cook's Country debacle.

Thank you for that by the way, I always meant to tell you I appreciated it.

Secondly, I know what you mean about posting about bad food. I think sometimes people ARE too hard on a place for one bad experience. And if it's a place I love, I know that unfortunately it was an isolated incident. It's hard to convince people of that though.

Save for one restaurant (and I'm still considering it), I have always given a place a second try if I have heard rave reviews from everyone I trust, but my first go round stank. And every time, the place has redeemed itself. I agree that you almost always need to try twice.

But with this? Ehh. It could be because the items are new. Or maybe they just need to stick to what they're best at.

ChristianZ said...

Yeah, I don't know why I was so vocal on that thread except that in that case I thought it was a true injustice where somebody's behavior most certainly did need correcting and not some isolated incident that could be written up to a misunderstanding.

I'm open to trying the carne asada again at Charo Chicken but I do kind of want to wait for somebody to say they had a good experience with it first.

BTW, were you at the FoodBuzz dinner at Blanca? I totally missed out on talking to you there.

Captain said...

I'm not going to tar the entire chain because of what happened to me at the South Fontana Charo, but I can guarantee I'll never set foot in that particular store again.

I was given (4) 5 dollar gift cards. (they were signed by Moe himself, by the way). I went to the Fontana store expecting to use 10 bucks worth on a meal. Well, that didn't happen.

After scrutinizing the cards front and back like a Treasury Agent looking over a suspect 100 dollar bill, I was informed by the massively obese male manager that I couldn't use them unless I paid for another meal at the same time.

I didn't want two meals, I wanted one. I was feeding just myself. I took my cards back from his sweaty paw and left.

I get a lot of gift cards from a relative who gets them from customers of the large OC firm he owns. Charo Chicken is the only place that has ever attempted to put restrictions on the redemption of their already paid for gift cards.

I'll attempt to find out if this is a company wide policy by redeeming them at another store in a different county.

ChristianZ said...

Let us know what you find out.

Captain said...

I might add, there are no such restrictions on the card.

One thing I won't do is complain to corporate, then march back in that store for a triumphant gift card meal after they've been spanked for doing what they did. (if indeed corporate spanks them for it)

I don't want ANYONE cooking for me who might be mad at me.

ChristianZ said...

Are your cards only good at that store?

Captain said...

There are no restrictions on the card as to where it must be redeemed.

ChristianZ said...

Take it somewhere else and let us know what happens.

Captain said...

Will do. It'll most likely be the Murietta store, as that's where I'm heading next.

melissa said...

Christian - I didn't get to come to the FoodBuzz dinner. I had RSVP'ed for it with a 'yes' but then work got in the way. If I had tried to come after my deadline, I would have come an hour late, which, in my opinion, was unacceptable.

I actually mentioned to my husband that I was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to meet the people that were supposed to be there - and I mentioned you specifically. ;) I was looking forward to meeting you. Some other time!

ChristianZ said...

Actually, while at the dinner Ryan from Foodbuzz told me I could put on my own Foodbuzz dinner and that they would cover it so I am going to try to get something like that together.