#21: El Puerto Mexican Restaurant

Today I went to the corner of a little shopping center that usually looks totally dead.  The restaurant that is located here is El Puerto, and I wasn’t even sure if they were in business when I headed over, or even when I arrived for that matter.  It’s located on Folsom at Cordova Ln.  Right now there’s a furniture clearance place in the anchor spot, but it seems to be frequently empty.  The parking lot is usually pretty empty anyway.  I was a couple minutes early for their 11AM opening so i sat in my car for a while.  11:05 rolls around and another car shows up and I see someone unlocking the doors.  I head over, end up holding the door open for the newcomers, and once inside find out that these 3 people are the staff themselves.  I stood in the entryway for a second until I noticed a sign saying to seat yourself, so I took a booth in the corner.

The dining room is medium-sized and has a big of a diner feel to it.  The manager (I think) came out quickly and handed me a menu.  I didn’t really see him again except for brief moments moving around in the back.  My server at first was not particularly friendly.  I have to admit that if I was showing up for work and there was a customer already waiting it might put me in a bad mood for a bit, like oh it’s going to be one of these days.  But she cheered up about halfway through so obviously whatever that was had passed.  I ordered a Dr Pepper and the Fajita Taco Salad (a grande taco shell filled with crisp salad greens layered with grilled steak or chicken, homemade rice, pico de gallo and cheese garnished with guacamole & sour cream.) [$7.95].  In the meantime I was given chips and salsa to start.  The chips were very mediocre and just barely warm.  The salsa was very cold, almost certainly right out of the cooler from overnight since they just opened, and slightly better than the chips.  It did pack a bit of cumulative heat which was nice.

My salad took about 10 minutes.  It was a pretty solid size.  In fact this is, I think, the first salad I did not completely finish.  I did come close though.  If only I had’t eaten so many chips…  Anyway, it was piled high with lettuce, then covered witch large scoops of guacamole and sour cream.  The cheese was almost nonexistent.  The chicken was far and away the best thing about this salad.  It was tender, seasoned generously and delicious.  The taco shell was crisp but very bland overall (as compared to El Pollo Loco’s tostada shell, which has a similar consistency).  Really, the whole thing, aside from the chicken, was pretty boring.  The guacamole was almost runny and had little flavor.  Sour cream was pretty much what I was tasting any time I had a bite without chicken, and it got old pretty quick. Overall, very meh.  When I left, I noticed that they still hadn’t turned on the open sign.  If you didn’t go in yourself or see someone else go in, I’m not sure how you’d know that they were even in business.

Website: http://www.elpuertomexicanrestaurant.com/

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