After a long week of midterms, my friends and I decided to treat ourselves to dinner — we were in search of a chill atmosphere, mouth-watering food and great company. Since we were all craving Mexican food, we ventured to El Puerto Mexican Restaurant, not knowing this would become our new favorite spot to eat.
Located off-Grounds on 2045 Barracks Road, El Puerto Mexican Restaurant offers guests a classic Mexican culinary experience filled with vibrant colors, mouth-watering aromas and pleasant customer service.
The warm and homey atmosphere is immediately evident, with colorful walls adorned with cultural artwork and sombreros, cut-out arches decorated with plants and rustic paneling along the booths. The air is filled with a blend of spices and the sizzle of freshly grilled ingredients, with the soft hum of mariachi music playing in the background, promising a memorable dining experience.
El Puerto’s menu boasts a vast selection of Mexican dishes that cater to every palate, such as vegetarian options, seafood, soups, delicious desserts and everyone’s favorite classics. They offer a wide range of drinks, such as horchata, a refreshingly sweet, milky beverage flavored with cinnamon, vanilla or other spices.
The staff at El Puerto is excellent — it was evident that they truly care about customer satisfaction. We were promptly seated and our orders were taken quickly. As we began to eat, we couldn’t help but order more delicious food, and the staff speedily delivered any additional sides or extras needed.
My friends and I decided to order the queso as an appetizer to eat alongside the complimentary chips and salsa. We were served a basket of warm, freshly made tortilla chips alongside their delicious salsa and queso. The salsa is just right — it’s not too spicy but still packs a punch of flavor. I like to dip my chips in both the salsa and queso, for a spicy, cheesy kick.
The food came out at the perfect time, right when we finished our chips, salsa and queso.
For the main course, I ordered the arroz con pollo, which was perfect for someone who has a hard time trying new dishes like myself. This dish showcases the delicious blend of flavors and textures that characterizes Mexican cuisine. The tender, seasoned chicken comes nestled on top of a bed of fragrant, perfectly cooked Mexican rice, infused with a medley of spices, and topped with their delicious queso.
I had never tried arroz con pollo before, but it didn’t fail to impress me, quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I like to order the arroz con pollo with refried beans and hot salsa on the side. Fair warning though if you order the salsa — it is very spicy and will leave you sniffling and downing all your water, but the addition of it elevates the dish, making it my favorite by far.
My friends all ordered combo dinners, which came with chicken and cheese enchiladas, beef burritos and chiles rellenos. All the dishes came on a warm plate, and their yummy aroma filled the air around us. The enchiladas were drenched in flavorful sauces and topped with gooey cheese. The beef burrito was filled with ground beef, which my friend described as tender and flavorful. The chile relleno was another friend’s favorite, who said it came with a yummy breading coated on the outside and filled with queso, which paired together perfectly. My friends and I all gobbled up our dishes in no time, leaving our plates spotless.
For dessert, we tried the churros. These golden, deep-fried pastries are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served with a chocolate dipping sauce. I wasn’t a fan of the chocolate sauce as it started to separate in the dish, but the churros were delicious. The crispy exterior gave way to a soft, fluffy interior, creating an irresistible balance of textures.
Despite the order of churros coming with only three churros, the staff gave us a complimentary additional churro for our group of four so that none of us was left without a churro or forcing us to split. We were surprised and especially grateful for their generosity, further encouraging us to return for the delicious food and warmhearted staff.
The restaurant’s welcoming, homey ambiance, exceptional customer service, and mouth-watering dishes create an unforgettable experience each time. I would recommend El Puerto to Mexican food lovers and especially to University students. They deliver large portions of food for a very fair price — a new go-to spot for my friend group.