El Jalisco Mexican Restaurant is a chain with many locations in the Florida panhandle. While it is just a few blocks away from another Mexican food restaurant, sadly little to sets it apart from most other Mexican food restaurants in the area. That being said it pulls slightly ahead of some of the other restaurants since it recently a made a few updates. Before the changes eating at El Jalisco was avoided, but now meals are enjoyable. Hopefully this trend continues.
Soft Taco & Crunchy Taco
The ingredients are fresh with tasty meats in a crunchy corn ground beef taco and a soft flour chicken taco at an amazing price. Certainly not the best Mexican, but on par with the rest of the area for flavor. The treat is the texture and the fresh ingredients. Normally the meats are cooked tastily, but this time, the meat was dripping in liquid. Luckily this doesn’t happen often, and the food was still flavorful.
Pick Two Combo
El Jalisco offers a combo of multiple choices, served with rice and beans, for a nice price. Featured in the image above is a shredded beef flauta and a soft corn tortilla chicken taco. The guacamole they served tonight was the best tasting it has been! Both the flat and the soft taco tasted great and had a nice texture, but for some reason the meat was extra juicy. This did not affect the flavor and was fresh enough not to affect the texture. If this is what a bad day at El Jalisco looks like, then thumbs up.
Kids Chicken Meal with French Fries
When you think Mexican, you probably do not think chicken strips. Well rest assured, this is a tasty alternative for your kids to get if you cannot talk them into a Mexican food dish. The fries are enjoyable with a nice texture, but the chicken is surprisingly tasty. Ketchup is available upon asking, as well as a few other sauces for dipping. Your child will be happy with this pick.
This is a tasty enchilada offered as cheese, chicken, or ground beef. Personally, it is weird and wrong to serve any ground beef in any Mexican food, so I avoid any dishes serving ground beef. All three enchiladas are good, however, so don’t let that stop you.
Burrito El Jalisco
This is their name brand burrito. This flour tortilla burrito is served with shredded chicken, or again ground beef, but with an upcharge of $2, they offer grilled chicken or steak. The $2 upcharge is worth it for the steak, but the chicken is good either way. The burrito sauce is similar to marinara sauce and is disappointing flavor wise. It does do the trick, but will not bring you back for more.
Hamburgers are a staple among the kids. This one is a good hamburger, nothing bad, nothing exceptional. The meat was cooked appropriately, flavorful and the bread, although visible grease was noticed on the top bun, was not stale, dry or greasy. Not impressive, but a good option for a picky kid who does not want Tex-Mex fare. The chicken strips are probably a tastier option instead for your kid. The fries are tasty with a great texture.
Located right on 23rd Street in a high traffic area, it is a little easier to reach crossing 23rd than a lot of businesses in the area. This restaurant is located in the same parking lot as Hobby Lobby, but is also very close to the Walmart on 23rd. There is a small amount of parking in the front of the building, but plenty more on the sides and around the back.
The ambiance is really cute and is true to the Mexican restaurant style with rich colors, tiles, and even has Spanish names scrolled into the back of the booth seats. It is not overdone luckily, so it has a lot of appeal. A lot of the dining areas are sectioned off, so it really helps with the noise levels. There is a bar section as soon as you walk in to the right, but the bulk of the dining is to the left of the hostess stand, which by itself is also very appealing when you enter. Most of the seating is booth seats, but there are a number of tables that can be combined for large tables.
Tables are bussed quickly and I rarely ever see a dirty table. The area is large and is kept clean. The floors are frequently swept. When it comes to the bathroom, it is really cute and very decorative with Mexican style materials, but the bathroom can be less clean than the rest of the restaurant. Truly the biggest thing is that the bathroom stall walls and doors are visibly dirty, and that really bothers me. Luckily the toilets stay clean.
The menu was recently redone and it looks very nice. There is a whole section devoted to lunch specials, but they also have appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, and desserts. There are a lot of options, but not so many that it overwhelms you. This is Tex-Mex, so you have the predictable menu items to choose from, but they do have quite a few options for salads and even a tortilla soup. The kids menu has both Tex-Mex and American food. There are multiple desserts and plenty of drinks available, like the draft beers or margaritas. Most importantly there has been a big improvement to the beans and rice. In times past, the beans tasted burnt and the rice was dry and also tasted burnt. Since the new changes, I have been able to actually eat here due to the improved flavors and textures of the food.
The prices are great, especially if you are on a budget. There are some entrees that are pricier, but this is a great place to eat during lunch because of the daily lunch specials. Plus there are two-for-one drink specials all day long everyday.
The quality of the food has improved a lot recently. The salsa is now one of my favorite in town. The chips are homemade and the servers keep you well stocked on both! Like I said, the beans and rice have improved recently, but so has the general quality and texture of the food. However they lose major points for relying on ground beef for many food items.
The food presentation is good. There is special attention that has been given since the changes to little details like the chip baskets and the paper that lines the basket- there is now logo design on the paper. The plates are still big, heavy and thick like normal mexican food restaurant presentation, but there is more detail to the presentation of the food on the plate.
The staff is friendly and they aim to please. The waitstaff keeps your chips and salsa free-flowing, and drinks are refilled often. The service is fast and the food comes out quickly as well. Food issues are resolved quickly. However, you will find that there are service “black holes” in the restaurant (the first booth visible when walking in the restaurant), so try to get seated in a highly visible area to the waitstaff as in the area next to the entrance to the kitchen where service is fastest.