Stéphanie Kalina-Metzger for The Sentinel
It’s been a while since I visited El Rodeo. Years ago I used to frequent the one on Jonestown Road. They have since added a few. You can now dine at El Rodeos in Lancaster, York, Lemoyne, Hanover, Carlisle and Mechanicsburg.
My husband and I decided to brave the Christmas traffic on the Carlisle Pike for lunch at their location in Silver Spring Township last Saturday. When we arrived around noon, we were surprised to see only a few cars in the front, but quickly learned that they also had plenty of space in the back to park.
We were recognized immediately upon entering and led to a booth. The restaurant is a feast for the eyes, with brightly colored booths and terracotta ceramic pendant lights in shades of burnt orange with green highlights. Cheerful suns, flowers and more are carved on tables. Tropical birds and other vibrant scenes direct the eye to the top of each stall where other wood carvings appear. A hacienda hides a drinks station, and murals depict Mexican scenes.
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It didn’t take long for a server to take our order. I was glad I decided in advance what I planned to eat, as the menu is quite extensive and covers the full range of Mexican specialties. You’ll find tacos, burritos, taco salads, quesadillas, enchiladas, nachos and fajitas, all with various protein choices. There are also 14 vegetarian options, with dishes like a vegetarian quesadilla with beans, onions, tomatoes, cheese and mushrooms; or a low fat vegetarian fajita with a selection of squash, peppers, onions and tomatoes served in a sizzling skillet with tortillas, refried beans, guacamole and a small salad.
Small ones are also included in the large menu. Children 10 and under can choose from a dozen selections. The list includes American dishes like burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese and mini pizza and cheese, as well as Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos and quesadillas, all for less of $6. Adults with a small appetite can also order the children’s menu, for an additional $2.
I don’t eat a lot of fried food, but I’ve decided it’s the holiday season, so why not splurge? I ordered a “house specialty”. The chimichanga was described as fried flour tortillas filled with a choice of protein and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese and guacamole, served with beans and rice ($8.75). My husband ordered the Huevos con Chorizo, listed on the menu as scrambled eggs served with rice and beans and two flour tortillas ($7.95).
We waited for our food for about 20 minutes and were both happy with our respective dishes. My chicken chimichanga was tasty and quite spicy so the ice cold beer I ordered hit the spot (this El Rodeo has a full bar) but I also wanted water and probably should have asked for it when the command. The rice and refried beans were also tasty.
My husband enjoyed his Huevos con Chorizo. He said the scrambled egg mixed sausage was delicious and wondered if maybe it was made on the spot.
The amount of food served for lunch was reasonable so we didn’t take any leftovers home, but we were too full for dessert. On the dessert menu are fried ice cream, flan, sopapillas, churros, a chocotaco and a dish known as xango: a cheesecake wrapped in a tortilla of fried dough.
As we were finishing our meals, we waited for the check, but somehow our server went MIA shortly after our food was delivered. At some point another employee noticed us, cleared the table and presented the check. One of my pet peeves is what I call “the long goodbye”, and we had to experience it here, which is a shame because everything else was good and flawless so far. We finally found enough money to put the payment on the table to avoid an extra wait.
I must say we enjoyed everything at El Rodeo until the end, but sometimes we have to give the service industry the benefit of the doubt these days, with staff shortages and all. I can recommend El Rodeo to anyone who likes good Mexican food and has plenty of time to linger.