Charrito’s Bar & Grill

17 Jan 2011
Average Cost ($8-$14)
Southeast Huntsville
3 out of 5

Melanie’s Take

Now that our birthday week was concluding and the snow was melting, Shane and I were ready to get out and complete our first review for Chain of Foods this year. We headed out to Charrito’s, a Mexican restaurant on South Parkway in the spot where another Mexican joint, Pepito’s, used to be. If you’ve ever eaten at Pepito’s, the atmosphere here will feel almost identical. Charrito’s is full of the sort of decor you’ve come to expect from Mexican restaurants, but it has a relatively cozy feel because of the booth-lined aisles and tables tucked away rather than floating in the middle of a large dining area.
We were armed with a gift certificate and ready to indulge. I asked our waiter what he recommended and he suggested the Quesadilla Mexicana, two fajita-style quesadillas with your choice of beef, chicken, or shrimp. I chose steak and shrimp and munched on chips and salsa as we waited. Charrito’s salsa was just the way I like it. It was fresh with small chunks of fresh tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. Think pico de gallo with a salsa spin. The chips were reminscent of store-bought Maizetos with their thick texture, but they were suitable vehicles for the tasty salsa.
When our food arrived, it became obvious that we could’ve invited four other people to dine with us and not left hungry. At $11.49 (including a $0.50 charge for choosing two proteins rather than one), I initially found the price of my entree a bit high, but the amount of food made the price more palatable. To top it off, the food was super tasty. I enjoyed both the shrimp and steak, but will stick with the shrimp next time because it was perfectly cooked and more flavorful than the steak. The fajita-style preparation was nice. The tortilla itself had been stuffed full of shrimp/steak, peppers, onions, and cheese and grilled as if it was a quesadilla. It was served alongside traditional fajita fixings including lettuce, pico de gallo, rice, beans, and sour cream (for which I┬ásubstituted guacamole).
Quesadilla Mexicana
Even though we were totally stuffed, we tried the flan for dessert. Although I enjoyed its flavor, the custard could have been a bit lighter in its texture. Overall, I truly enjoyed our visit and would probably return more often during lunch when the specials are more affordable or share an entree at dinner. The service was excellent and the food was some of the best Mexican fare I’ve had in Huntsville.

Shane’s Take

When we chose to eat at Charrito’s, I felt like I was compromising. I was never impressed by Pepito’s, and I assume that Charrito’s is run by the same people (I mean, am I the only who noticed that when the Pepito’s sign fell off its pedestal a few months ago that the new sign magically had a different name?), so I didn’t expect much. To my surprise, I was wrong. The store atmosphere has changed little since the Pepito’s days. The seating layout is quirky and full of booths, and the decoration is fine but not spectacular. Mostly, Charrito’s is just another Mexican restaurant with lots of grainy Pancho Villa pictures on the walls, but it’s not without character: the tiny fountain, zany colored booths, photograph-covered entrance, and stone-covered wall are unique touches. If nothing else, I was amused because for a moment I felt like I’d returned to 1989. That dining room just has a strange but likable throwback feel to it. The food was plentiful and delicious. The chips and salsa were pretty good. Like Melanie said, the chips were just okay. The salsa, on the other hand, was good: it had a nice punch, was reasonably chunky, and was loaded with tasty cilantro. I wouldn’t choose it over Rosie’s or Phil’s salsa, but it was still good stuff.
Since we were doing our best to bust through a gift certificate, I ordered a $14.95 single person steak fajita plate. For a standard Mexican restaurant, I thought that $14.95 was a high price, but I adjusted my opinion when our waiter arrived with a mound of meat and vegetables as big as my head. The meat, which included grilled steak, bacon, and chorizo, was well-cooked and nicely-seasoned. Melanie thought it could use more seasoning, and I would agree that the seasoning was sparse, but I thought the flavor was pleasant. I particularly enjoyed the bacon and chorizo that accompanied the steak. Yes, the combination of beef and pork is as excessive as you think, but it was delicious. To me, steak fajitas are a treat. Steak fajitas with bacon and chorizo? Ridiculous. I also enjoyed the plentiful portion of well-cooked vegetables and the white cheese that blanketed the meat and veggies. It all tasted great. Too greasy? Yes. Too much food? Yes. A pleasure to eat? Yes.
Doing what we could to get our fifty-strings-attached gift certificate to work, we finished our meal with flan. I think I’ve had flan once before, and I remember liking it, and I enjoyed it once again at Charrito’s. It was refreshing, not too heavy, and had a nice rummy flavor. But, two observations should be made: One, something about the texture of our flan said “I’ve been thawed”. Two, our flan had the consistency and the spongy, porous texture of a brain. It was a little bit gross, but it still tasted good.
Although the incredible amount of food presented to me at Charrito’s dominates my recollection of our visit, I also enjoyed the service. Our waiter was helpful, pleasant, and quick to refill the drinks. Plus, he offered us enthusiastic recommendations, which I always appreciate. He also kindly helped us figure out our gift certificate, and his manager likewise willingly helped us with it. So, I was surprised by our enjoyable visit to Charrito’s. We ate a lot of good food. We enjoyed a quirky Mexican restaurant atmosphere. We received excellent service. I recommend Charrito’s and look forward to returning when can enjoy our normal plate sharing routine. A few closing thoughts:
  • Charrito’s food won’t win any major culinary awards, but it makes up for any of lack of quality with quantity.
  • They have self-proclaimed fame for their rotisserie chicken. What other Mexican restaurant makes that sort of claim?
  • Check out the old wooden doors on the main entrance. Those came from a different era or something.
Charritos Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

5 Responses

  1. Chelsea Green

    Is this the place right off the parkway near the Airport exit? I’m a definitely Mexican food fan and have been wanting to try it for a long time, but I wasn’t sure how sketchy it was, haha.

  2. Shane & Melanie

    That’s the place. It’s not sketchy at all. You should try it!

  3. Phyllis Young Basham

    Sounds good. You know how I love Mexican food. Maybe we can go there together sometime. I don’t think I want to try the flan.

  4. Lara Baswell

    I will have to give this a try. I LOVE mexican.

  5. Daphne Vest Tabis

    I used to drive past this place early in the morning and I would crave Mexican the rest of the day…I’m glad to know you thought it was tasty. I’ll have to try it sometime!

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