Thursday, May 19, 2016
El Paseo ~ Keller, Texas
Well here's another old favorite that we've been frequenting since we moved to the area in 2003. I would say we go on average about 4 to 5 times a year. But since we just visited over the weekend, it's timing is fortuitous. And we haven't updated the post with our new format, so...
Original 2008 Notes / Food: When the RJG first started discovering Mexican restaurants in the 1980's, one of the logical axioms was that the more fancy the place seemed to be, the more bland the food proved to be. I felt this to be 100% true until deep into the 1990s, and suddenly one would find themselves in restaurants you would feel comfortable taking anyone to, and also would come out completely satiated. Such were my thoughts when I entered and exited El Paseo for the first time in 2003. And ever since...
As mentioned in prior posts, one can usually get a quick read on a Mexican restaurant based on the quality of their chips and salsa. Here the chips are excellent, very crisp, with a strong taste of corn (and lots of chili powder - see comment section as well!) while the salsa has more of a kick than expected. It's a tomato based sauce with garlic and chiles, reminding me most of the Herrera's chain in Dallas, though not quite that fiery. El Paseo seem to excel in the basics, and we here at the Regular Joe's Guide always admire that. Tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and fajitas are all excellent, though not exceptional. They claim a wide variety of spicy dishes, but none so far have proven to be that hot, though still good. Over the years, we've dug through the menu, and lately the RJG has become quite fond of the Pollo Ranchera. It's a large chicken breast, smothered in a smooth ranchero sauce, and comes on a sizzling fajita like plate, with excellent rice and beans. Mrs RJG speaks highly of their Flautas de Pollo as well.
Drink: We love their margaritas. Mrs. for on the rocks, and me for the frozen. It's a sweeter blend, with an appealing bit of carbonation. And generally contains a nice tequila kick. But not always... They also have a full set of Mexican lagers, and the usual non alcoholic drinks.
Location: With multiple large rooms, a Spanish courtyard, a full bar area, and windows overlooking a city pond with views to Keller City Hall and the Art House, it would seem that El Paseo will be an anchor of the community of Keller for some time. Hard to miss the rather opulent structure while driving on Keller Parkway. It's on the south side of the road, just east of Keller Smithfield and slightly past (or before) the Tom Thumb shopping center.
Notes: Like many such nice Mexican restaurants, El Paseo possesses a heritage that is far more modest. In fact, the Keller location seems to be the pinnacle of achievement for the local chain, that also has locations in west Fort Worth, Azle, and Mineral Wells. I haven't been to any of the other locales, but have driven by the Fort Worth one on Jacksboro Highway, and the outside appearance seems night and day. I believe they started in Azle in 1986, but details are scant. They have not expanded since the Keller restaurant opened.
Rating: 4.0. Closer to 4.5. For whatever reason, this El Paseo has never scored well on Urbanspoon/Zomato, though it ranks #11 out of #104 (for Keller) on TripAdvisor. Clearly a split vote, though we agree with TripAdvisor on this one!