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El Charro ~ Mar Vista

12:01 PM PDT on August 4, 2006

El Charro

12819 Venice Blvd. ~ (310) 391-1885 ~ Mar Vista (See Taco Map)

El Charro is a great Mexican spot that's sort of out-of-the-way and very low-key. The front is hand-painted in saints, animals, and the diner's star dishes; the inside is mostly countertop, the walls draped in photos of Mexican revolutionaries, movie-stars, and Marilyn Monroe.

El Charro

Their cook might be one of the hardest working men in the business, a tough-looking hombre who really knows his way around the kitchen and does so tirelessly from 10AM-10PM. Bellying up to the bar, sometimes the only soul in the place, you feel like you're sitting with a famous sushi chef, often one-on-one, with his scrounging up pots, pans, and ingredients for you and only you.

El Charro does a lot of things well. There are standards like tacos, enchiladas, and rellenos of varying goodness, then there are their specialties like 2 types of chile burrito, camarones a la diabla, goat soup, and pescado frito. My companion went for a carnitas taco and nachos, while I chose one of my favorites, the very hearty and protein-filled scrambled eggs with machaca, which is spiced, shredded beef.

El Charro machaca

Customary chips and salsa graced our table with a smoky, spicy salsa that is sort of like a quemada, only this still being red. I don't think El Charro has beer, strange for a Mexican restaurant, but we did survive, somehow.

The nachos hit the table first, toasted to a golden color with liberal amounts of cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream. Never enough guacamole for our tastes, but delicious nonetheless, despite the crazy coagulation that binds 84 chips to the same piece of cheese that you find with nachos everywhere. The carnitas taco was good, with a flavorful meat that was a little dry, but still tasty.

The machaca with eggs delivered as hoped, the well-cooked yet fluffy eggs a blur of chewy beef strands, with smoky country spices penetrating every bite. A side of refried beans topped in melted cheese and Spanish rice helped add more sin to the fatty dish. I didn't need to eat for a month, yet did amazingly the next morning.

El Charro

El Charro wins points for its DL, colorful vibe and committment to Mexican comfort cooking. In addition to gut-busting eats, one gets an experience walking into El Charro. You don't always feel wanted, but eventually the cook's heart gets slightly warmer when you've been in his face for a half-hour. Since El Charro is a tee-toatler, we recommend stopping by the Ranchera bar next door, which is wallpapered in Playboy centerfolds.

El Charro
El Charro
El Charro carnitas
El Charro
El Charro
El Charro1.jpg
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