El Mariachi impresses with free chips and hearty portions


The menu at El Mariachi – a Mexican restaurant that opened in Glassboro last year – had me wishing I paid better attention in my high school Spanish classes. Thank goodness the descriptions were in English because the titles had me scratching my head.

As I sat alone at a table awaiting the arrival of my two friends, the small menu tempted me to skim it over. I looked on the first page where all of the appetizers and drinks were listed, then at the next two pages of breakfast items and entrees.

With my friends being late as always, I had time to look around the restaurant. My first thought was the name of the restaurant should be different. The small building couldn’t fit a mariachi band in it if it wanted to.

The place had no more than 12 tables and one server to wait on the customers. On the positive side, the tables weren’t all filled. It was only 1:30 p.m., between the lunch and dinner rushes.

My two friends Shane and Max finally arrived and it was time to really search over the menu.

My first thought was the name of the restaurant should be different. The small building couldn’t fit a mariachi band in it if it wanted to.

For only having one server, the service was terrific. As soon as my two friends sat down, the waiter immediately brought over some chips and salsa. The chips were not your average, out-of-the-bag Tostitos, I could really taste how fresh they were. The chips were warm and a little crispy: a perfect snack before the big feast.

To accommodate patrons who don’t enjoy spicy foods, the server brings out a green dip similar to guacamole, but thinner. The other dip was very spicy and thin enough to see the seeds of chopped-up peppers. The best part was that the chips and salsa were free and unlimited. Throughout the meal, we asked for four refills.

Then came time to pick out the entrees. I saw the tacos, quesadillas, and burritos on the menu, but I wanted to try something new, so I chose something I couldn’t pronounce: the chilaquiles. The description on the menu described them as homemade chips served with a choice of chicken or steak, refried beans, sour cream, and cheese.

When I ordered, the server asked, “Do you want the chilaquiles rojos or verdes?”

My little knowledge of first-grade Spanish helped me in that situation. I knew he was asking for the red or green sauce. To prevent any future stomach issues, I played it safe and chose the less spicy of the two: the Verde sauce.

About 15 minutes later, the steaming hot plates arrived. Not a lot of conservation went on during this time, as we were all enjoying our entrees.

My plate was filled with chips, steak, and refried beans. The chips were thick, sort of like small, individual tortillas. The Verde sauce was underneath the chips, giving it all a little kick. The sauce was thick and spicy and went well mixed in with the rest of the food.

Both of my friends got the massive steak burritos filled with steak, guac, rice, and cheese. Even as avid Chipotle eaters, they could barely finish their burritos. We were impressed with the portion size of the entrees and the taste.

The dessert section only contained three items: Flan Napolitano, churros, and Pastel Tres Leches. I didn’t want any surprises, so we settled on the churros.

Shortly upon ordering, the three churros came out. They were steaming hot, so we had to wait until they cooled down to enjoy. The churros were large and crunchy, albeit not too impressive. It is hard to mess up a churro, considering cinnamon and sugar are the two main ingredients.

The bill came and it was fairly cheap. My meal was $12 and the three churros were $5 in total. The burritos were $10 each.

The server received a good tip because the service was off the charts. He made sure to check on us every 10 minutes to get chip and drink refills. Around the table, we all agreed we would definitely go again.

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