Monday, April 30, 2007

El Palmar

El Palmar
4069 Summer Avenue

On Thursday night, Warren suggested we go to Back Yard Burger. I suggested we go somewhere else. (This is a side effect of my blogging and writing about restaurants on a regular basis.)

“We could try one of those new Mexican places on Summer,” he suggested.

Having just pitched a story on fish tacos, I quickly agreed.

We arrived with the monkeys (Satchel, 5, and Jiro, 3) in tow around 6:00pm. El Palmar anchors a small strip mall. “What used to be here?” Warren and I asked each other, but neither of us had the answer. Inside, the restaurant was pretty nondescript. Tables, chairs, a few neon palm tree signs, and a cooler full of Jarrito drinks.

There were only two other tables of customers, one of whom had a baby, I think. While Warren and I discussed where to sit, Jiro ran over to the cooler and started pointing at which drink he wanted. “Orange! Orange!” he said.

“What color do you want?” I asked Satchel.

“Red!” he said, not believing his luck.

I was so tired and hungry, it didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t normally let them each have their own soda. Oh well, at least they weren’t caffeinated.

We sat at a table by the window and started perusing the extensive menu. I immediately set about looking for fish tacos among the many seafood offerings. There was fish, shrimp, or octopus ceviche; grilled shrimp, Mexican shrimp, breaded shrimp, shrimp with rice, shrimp with hot sauce, shrimp with bacon; oysters on the half shell, lobster tails, and red snapper any style. They even had a whole fried tilapia—one of my favorites.

However, there were no fish tacos.

Warren decided on a pork burrito, Satchel requested steak tacos, and Jiro wanted nothing. Well, nothing other than his mandarin orange Jarrito and cheese dip. Warren ordered him a chicken taco. “You want lettuce, tomato, and cheese?” the waitress asked much to my delight.

“No, just cheese please.” I said, happy that I wouldn’t be picking tiny lettuce shards off of either monkey’s plate.

“What can I get you?” she asked.

I had no idea and the fact that the menu featured a bazillion pictures was not helping. I really wanted to try the ceviche, but since a bad experience on our honeymoon in Costa Rica, I just haven’t had the nerve. Super nachos are always hard to pass up. And there was the whole grilled tilapia…

“I’ll have shrimp fajitas,” I finally blurted out as I wondered if that could somehow fit into an article on fish tacos.

By the time I was done ordering, the monkeys were knee deep in cheese dip. Jiro had even flavored it a bit with his Jarrito during a half-spill incident just moments before. Warren was busy trying out the three salsas that came with the chips. I was about to join him when Jiro informed me that it was time to go potty.

The restroom was a one seater, pretty big, and fairly clean. The whole restaurant seemed pretty clean. New-ish. Maybe there wasn’t anything there before.

Back at the table, Satchel and Warren were still chip and dipping. We soon ran out of chips and as I looked for the waitress to order more, Warren said, “Let’s not ruin our dinner.”

“Uh…okay,” I said wondering what fun it was to eat Mexican food without a belly full of chips and dip.

Then the waitress came over and asked if we wanted some more chips. “Yes,” Warren smiled as she set them down.


Our food arrived a few minutes later. Warren’s burrito was just huge. HUGE. Like ridiculously huge. The monkeys’ tacos were served open face on corn tortillas. My shrimp fajitas were also massive. I had eight giant shrimp with their tails on, just the way I like ‘em, rice, beans, and corn tortillas.

As expected, Jiro ate nothing and immediately decided he’d like to cruise around the restaurant while we were distracted by food. Satchel ate almost one whole taco before declaring himself “stuffed” (unless someone offered him ice cream). Warren managed to eat his entire burrito, although he did have to resort to using a fork at the end. I used the three salsas on the table and the half of avocado on my plate to create the fish taco experience for myself.

The service was pretty good, even with an obvious language barrier, the prices were on par with comparable restaurants, and the food was satisfying. The monkeys behaved so well, we foolishly offered to drive to Toys R Us so they could spend the $10 gift cards they received in December.

But that’s a whole ‘nother story for a whole other blog.

Restaurante El Palmar on Urbanspoon


Stephanie said...

The Toys R Us is in Wolfchase! *gasp* No you didn't!

Sounds like we need to try El Palmar.

Gina said...

There used to be an Exline Pizza there. We actually didn't like El Palmar.

CP said...

I LOVE El Palmar! The food is fresh, earthy, spicy and authentic. I've only been there for lunch and it is an excellent value. I really want to go one evening and try some of their seafood entrees. I expected rave reviews on this post and was a little surprised by the ho-hum. Because of the earthy/spicy/authentic, I would not expect my kids to care for anything but the frightenly sweet-looking beverages, but it would be a great bribe. On Saturday nights my friend Domingo and his mariachis are playing there.

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