Sunday, October 26, 2008

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: El Charro

14:00 - El Charro
I'm so full...time to call in backup. We are joined on our adventure by Erica, Lauren's friendly food scientist friend. Erica knows a lot about food, so she should be able to help us out at our next stop.
El Charro (as far as we can tell it has no relation to other restaurants called El Charro) is one of the only places in Urbana you can go to get authentic mexican food. I'm told that they even have mexican coke (I'm hoping this is coca-cola, or we're not trying it). The food is described as "straight-forward and delicious! I'm looking forward to some homemade guacamole, and as many tacos, enchiladas, chile rellenos I can stuff my face with (while saving room for the other restaurants of course). One reviewer (link below) even states that there isn't even any soap in the (shared customer and employee) bathroom! How's that for authentic? Okay, bad joke.....but in my experience, the nicest newest (and sometimes cleanest) restaurants aren't always the ones with the best ethnic food. I'd take shabby place in chinatown over a Chopstick Express every time. We will try our best to avoid getting hepatitis (we aren't that adventerous), and we'll be sure to enjoy this restaurant that I'm sure will end up being a winner.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to El Charro. It seems like an authentic Mexican shop/restaurant serving up Mexican favorites. We selected the pozole soup (a tomato-based soup filled with hominy and pork, $5.99), a chicken tamale ($1), the horchata (rice milk drink with a hint of cinnamon), and the guacamole ($3.50). I thought the flavors were pretty good and would like to go back to try the tacos or gorditas (my knowledge of Mexican foods is based off the Taco Bell menu). After having worked at a restaurant, a coffee shop, and other stores, I really value customer service. The staff at El Charro were more than accommodating and answered all my questions, and suggested items to order (and also gave me a free coconut ice cream stick).
I love mexican food, and I also had a great experience at El Charro. I forgot to check for soap in the bathroom, NOT because I didn't wash my hands, but because I didn't us it. But plenty of other reviewers assure me that there is soap in the bathroom. All joking aside, This place was awesome.
I really fell in love with their guacamole, which is fresh and inviting. There were chunks of red onion in it which at first I thought would be too big, but they fit in perfectly, and weren't harsh at all. I love tamales, so I ended up eating most of the one we got here, but Erica and Lauren agreed that it needed to be a little firmer. It sort of fell apart when we unwrapped it. Also, for this tamale, the sauce was inside, which was a new experience for me. I'm used to the sauce being poured over the top. I enjoied it a lot. I've also never had pozole before, and I liked it a lot too (maybe I just like all food....). It was spicy, salty, and there were chunks of fatty pork inside that melted in your mouth. I started sweating (which I do from spicy food). I love spicy food, but my body has such a low tolerance for it. It was pretty tame here though. I didn't really want to go all out with spiciness, or I'd probably need an extra shirt.
And here's the Mexican Coke. It's made with real cane sugar (instead of corn syrup)! We didn't try it on this visit, but you can be sure I will on our next one. I've had Dr. Pepper with cane sugar, and you could taste the difference.
$13.23 - Plus tas
Total spent - $127.36

El Charro (review)
55 Green St. , Champaign, IL 61820

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