Restaurant Review: Charritos
There’s a strip mall at the corner of Henderson and Reed that is just jam packed with stuff. It’s got pizza, it’s got donuts, it’s got phone service providers and maybe mattresses, too. It’s all crammed in there.
In fact, Charritos is crammed in there, too. Somehow, the operation fits all the elements of a traditional Mexican restaurant into a sort of woodsy spot with a full bar. Like the strip mall itself, everything is tightly packed. Not unto discomfort, but as though a puzzle maker has carefully wedged in every requisite element.
The front of the laminated menu features a photo of the house Pozole. As depicted, it’s a mysterious red soup. There might be a description of it inside the menu, but why hunt for days when you can just go for it? The menu itself has a lot pages; it’s dauntingly large and filled with much more than pedestrian enchi-taco-rito-lada combos.
And so, let’s start with the Pozole.
Underneath its reddish surface lies plump kernels of hominy corn, slices of potato, and ginormous soft chunks of pork that easily break into bite-size pieces under gentle pressure. There are also dried pepper pods in the mix. The soup is so good in its simplicity, it’s hard not to be careless in enthusiastic gulping. That said, chomp down on one of its peppers, and you’ll have to sit and think about life choices for a minute.
A little more time with the menu reveals other delights. You might remember a time when restaurants regularly served taco salad in epically large fried-shell bowls. That time is now at Charritos. The Taco Shell Salad ($5.95) offers up more shell than can be consumed (and it’s not as good as the house chips). All the same, it is fun to crack into, and mix with the greens, tomatoes, onion, avocado, cucumbers and cotija cheese. The heft of a grilled steak add-on ($2.50) offers plenty of mini-strips of lean, savory meat, making the whole concoction a respectable meal.
Moving to more familiar territory, there are certainly tacos. As might be anticipated, soft tortillas wrap various meats sprinkled with cilantro and onions. You can start with pork (al pastor) priced at $1.50. Something like steak or shrimp is just a little higher-end: $1.95. And for those who prefer variety flavors, pork skin, tongue and tripe are all on the menu.
The torta scene is also robust. That is where you will find the epic Cubacharrito ($9.75). It is formidable; it is ridiculous; it is wonderful. Within the sliced soft torta roll, you’ll find a party of chorizo, breaded chicken, ham, some hot dog, egg, pineapple, mayonnaise, cheese, lettuce, avocado and tomatoes. You could claim that it’s more than the sum of its parts, but that’s an unprecedented collection of parts. It hits the spot in the insane sandwich scene.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Veggie Enchiladas ($8.95). It’s a classic combo, with soft-sautéed onions, mushrooms, peppers and zucchini. The dish is topped with sauce and cheese to wed it all together, and rice and beans on the side. It’s thoroughly pleasant, but the torta was more fun.
Bar-wise, happy hour starts at 3 p.m. on weekdays, and the house bar has things covered with a full selection that includes imports, domestics and margaritas galore.
You’ll find Charritos is at 4740 Reed Rd.
For more information, visit taqueriacharritosrestaurant.com.
All photos by Susan Post