It's great. It's awful. It's cheap. It's too expensive. The comments vary wildly among its visitors. I treat it as a reliable place for lunch, or for reasonably late dinners (before 11).
It embraces more of a Western theme than a Mexican theme, with plaques of serene-looking horses, ceiling fans that look fashioned of rusted wicker, and easy pop and country music* interspersed with announcements to try Rodeo's desserts. Once you get your plastic number, insert it into the little kiosk on your table, which lights up to let them know where to bring your food. It's rather like a slot in a hotel room door. Not that it works better than those spindly aluminum number holding rods, but it's neat.
You care more about the food than its dispatch, of course. The tacos are generously ladled onto a pair of corn tortillas with a dusting of cilantro. The pollo is grilled firm into springy cubes of orange and beige, holding its moisture. The al pastor is stringy and ruddy and without much impact.
The carne asada is the best meat they offer here, chopped into juicy scraps balanced between strong and mild. It responds well to the red salsa, which has a nice top-of-the-tongue heat. The green salsa is fresh, ingredient-heavy and bitey.
Tacos are generally preferred for carne asada delivery, but the Burrito Enchilado is not a bad vehicle for it. Drenched with a thick red sauce, the tortilla's skin is just able to be breached with the edge of a fork. It's bulky, but unfortunately is mostly rice. The combo adds a dense paste of refried beans with melted slivers of white cheese; the rice is the usual orange tint, with peas and carrots. There is little need for it since there's enough of it in the burrito.
It looks simple and dull, but the Quesadilla Sincronizada is fairly luscious with carnitas inside it. The shredded pork is from the softer side of the family, the texture of a smooth pot roast without crispy edges, but good. White cheese, white onion, and bits of green pepper and tomato invite themselves to the party.
Not that I look for shakes at a Mexican-derived eatery, but I'm enamored of their chocolate shake. No, really. It has an old-fashioned flavor, that slightly bitter, thin rasp of real ice cream.
A public pay lot lurks to one side, or you can usually find street parking. Other locations are at Olympic east of Alvarado, and an express version on Broadway east of the 5.
* Willie Nelson and sundry, but also Barry Manilow's "Even Now", Dylan's "Lay Lady Lady" and Neil Diamond's "Cracklin' Rosie". It leaves you a little confused but it's not a bad place to be.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Mexican, East Side/Downtown, Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo Park )
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