1121 S. Western Ave.
(323) 734-2273

Established in 1923. this Mexican restaurant is charmingly named for a, um, well, Cholo which is - as I understand it, a derogatory term for a person of low means. I can respect their history, and I've always found their staff to be great at serving and being gracious - I like their atmosphere and even the fish tank behind the bar. But their menu is begging for an update. You can't tell this by the traffic jam that happens out on Western as people line up to get into the parking lot however.

One of their claims to fame is that in 1959 Carmen Rocha invented nachos at this El Cholo. Cool, except nachos have clearly benefitted from the fiddling that other chefs have done since they tasted Carmen's version which are a greasy glob of cheese that doesn't cling to the corn chips as much as it just pools on them in a rather unwholesome fashion.

Apparently back in 1938 when they came up with their chile relleno, they were short on Poblanos in the kitchen because inexplicably, this is the only place where you can order a relleno and not get a roasted poblano that has been split open and stuffed with cool yummy goodies, closed up, dredged in a breading mixture and deep fried. NOT HERE. Nope, you will get a wet and puffy omelet sort of thing with 2 slivers of green chile hidden inside and an apologetic dollop of red sauce. Why? Poblanos aren't expensive ingredients. And if El Cholo is anti-poblano, no-problem-o, just don't put rellenos on your menu. Put an omelet hybrid on there instead so we're clear what we're getting.

The Annie's Enchilada was a surprise. Mixed garden veggies, jack cheese, sweet corn salsa and crushed pecans. Sweet and savory. This would be a knock out if you served it a brunch!

The best thing about El Cholo is that is across the street from
MAN HAN TANG FOOT THERAPY located at 1120 Western Avenue (323) 731-2218.
Now don't you run over there and take up all the Lazy Boy chairs! But if you look inside you'll find sleeping Korean models and people of all ages passed out in the chairs after having the $20 service. For $20 you get about an hour service of heating your feet and legs in teak barrels as they massage your neck, back, head, arms and hands. Then they take your bucket away and you flop down in the chair to have them work on your legs and feet. They let you sleep for a bit and then revive you with fresh brewed hot tea and bizarrely, snacks in sealed Frito-Lay baggies like graham crackers, Chex Mix, you name it.

The ultimate El Cholo experience is heading to Man Han Tang, telling them you'll be back in 30 minutes, heading to El Cholo for a strong margarita and a few minutes contemplating their fish tank. Then go give yourself over to the $20 therapy and you'll be deeply relaxed and drooling by the time they get to your calfs. I wonder if that's what the models do that I see fast asleep there every day.

Not the usual dinner recommendation, but a beer and heaven for $20 + the margarita is sometimes just what the doctor ordered!


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