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El Zocalo Mexican Grille (Chandler, AZ)

Mexican food has morphed into a myriad of forms and subtleties. Some of them are successful renditions of local nuance onto time-honored basic dishes. Some are new forms of typical mexican food ingredients made into new dishes completely.  What I love is finding a Mexican food restaurant that capably handles its mission of creating great food whether it is traditional or variant. 

I eat out a lot. So my expectations for good Mexican food are high.  I went to a wonderful restaurant today in Chandler, AZ that has exceptional Mexican food. That restaurant is called "El Zocalo Mexican Grille". My friend, Kevin Lott, told me about this restaurant. He highly recommended it. He was right on.

The first thing you notice when going to El Zocalo Mexican Grille is the great atmosphere.  The inside of the restaurant is nicely done, but don't settle for sitting inside. The key for the ambiance of this eatery is the great patio.  The patio is a perfect balance of beautiful iron frame tables and chairs, stone and brick walls, and professionally designed and arranged flora in an open air atrium. Sitting there in the middle of the afternoon was great, and I imagine the evening setting would be even more stunning.

The second thing to impress me was the chips and salsa.  Warm chips (deep fried, not baked) were excellent, and the zesty salsa was hearty and the ingredients were ground small so that it spread very well. I love good chips and salsa, and "El Zocalo" did not disappoint.

Service at the restaurant started off a little slow, but once the waiter came to our table, top notch attention and timeliness was the modus operandi of our server.  My drink never got too low and the food came in a very reasonable time. One thing I was very glad of- the plates on which the food was served were not used as heating plates for the food.  The food itself was piping hot, but the plate was not heated in the process. I hate nothing more than food served on a hot plate that burns you as you try to eat the food on it.  This has become an increasing trend in some mexican food restaurants, and it is a poor way to build in efficiency and speed into the food preparation process. Better Mexican food restaurants know this is a poor method and do not use it. Thank God that the "El Zocalo" actually prepares the food, then sets it on nice clean, cool plates.  The waiter was courteous and very helpful.

OK, let's talk about the main dish. I had a carne asada burrito with enchilada sauce, and a shredded beef crispy taco.  This was served with beans and rice as well. The food was perfect!  The crispy taco was eaten first, or perhaps I should say devoured. It was excellent. Perfect crispiness on the shell, excellent spiced and shredded beef and served hot!  Next I tackled the burrito, while doing round robin attacks on the excellent beans, with the occasional mouthful of rice.  It was great. I found myself spreading the enchilada sauce on everything and trying to get every last bite from each component of the meal. I literally have no complaints on the food at all.

As we left a sirene fountain centered the courtyard entrance to the patio and reminded me that architecture, landscape, service and great food can all come together to make a great eatery. That great lunch experience is what I would encourage you to encounter by taking a trip to "El Zocalo Mexican Grille" in Chandler, AZ. The food pricing was moderate, and though I have been to plenty of mexican food restaurants for less money, none of those bargain basement priced places had this quality. 

If you are looking for a great mexican food experience, try the El Zocalo Mexican Grille, you won't be disappointed.


El Zocalo Mexican Grille
28 South San Marcos Pl.
Chandler AZ


Good eating!

Kim Gentes

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