Among the cuisines gaining Egyptians’ obsession nowadays is Tex-Mex. While both American and Italian restaurants have the hugest base of food enthusiasts, Egyptians have had their fair share of burgers, pizza, and pasta over the past two decades, and started showing more attraction to Mexican cuisine recently.
Discovering the latest Tex-Mex restaurants in Egypt, Daily News Egypt’s team paid a visit to El-Chico, the international restaurant chain that recently opened a branch in Egypt.
El-Chico first opened in Dallas, Texas in the United States, at the hands of members of the Mexican community there, before they witnessed a huge success in the 1960s and 70s and started opening other branches across the globe.
Tex-Mex food is a combination between Mexican food, which dominates the recipes, with some additions from American cuisine, which resembles more commonly known ingredients in the dishes.
In one of Fifth Settlement area’s largest malls, Cairo Festival City, El-Chico brought Mexican culture all the way to Egypt. With colourful light bulbs hanging on the walls, the embroidered sombreros and bull heads, the decoration of the place is great way to give you a glimpse of Mexico.
The restaurant serves nachos with fresh tomato salsa dips as a complementary welcoming gesture to its guests. Although the sauce tasted fresh and mouth-watering, it could have created a more exquisite taste if the nachos had a more pronounced flavour. Despite their crunch and large size, the nachos experience would have been richer if any spices were used for added flavour. The plain taste of the corn tortillas was missing seasoning.
We went for fried avocados as an appetiser. The plate was made of fresh avocado wedges, battered, fried, and served with jalapeno cilantro dip.
The several pieces served had a thin, crunchy texture and peal covering the greenish, large avocado pieces. Crispy on the outside, sweet and tender on the inside, the avocado was well fried and the taste of the seasoning was obvious in the seasoning and sharp to the extent of overriding the taste of the avocado itself. The tender avocado did not have an obvious aroma, it was hidden behind the fried taste. For those who love savoury and the flavour of wedges, El-Chico’s fried avocados are similar in tenderness and crisp but with a different taste.
Based on recommendations of the staff, we ordered the enchilada dinner, a plate consisting of spicy beef and cheese with chili con carne and sour cream sauce wrapped in tortillas. The plate was served with baked potato topped with sour cream and spicy corn with coloured peppers upon our request.
The minced beef was the dominating taste of the whole plate. The huge portions of meat almost eliminated the taste of cheese, sour cream, and tortilla, leaving no space for any other savour to compete with it. When we were asked, as all other customers were, about our opinion, the manager offered to serve the team an alternative plate with the same components, but with less meat and the addition of mixed cheese, onion, and green pepper inside the tortilla bread. Eventually, they all added a balance in taste. The changes can be applied to any plate upon request, according the manager.
We ordered another plate, chicken fajita taco, served with crispy corn or soft flour tortillas, upon request, the plate is made of grilled chicken fajitas served with Mexican salsa fresca, avocado, cilantro, cottage cheese, and sour cream drizzles. We ordered Mexican rice and sweet corn as side dishes.
The grilled chicken breast was tender and moist, but the portion could have been bigger. Yet, with the combination of other components, the dish made the perfect light, but filling meal. As for the Mexican rice, it was well sautéed, with tasty Mexican seasoning. The corn was a bit dry, though it still tasted good.
One of the most entertaining parts of the food experience in El-Chico was sharing the food with a community of other cultures.
The place was filled with people from different nationalities and backgrounds, all gathering to try the American-Mexican food from its origin.
El-Chico offered a satisfying level of service, with waiters ensuring all the time that customers are well-served and needed nothing, which came in handy in the case of the Enchilada plate.
Prices ranged from EGP 100-300.