Avila's El Ranchito (Corona Del Mar) - Interrupt

>> Sunday, March 25, 2012

Date of Dining: 2/18/2012
Price: ~$10-$15 per plate
Location: 2515 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

The Quick Bit:
+ family owned restaurant chain
+ good selection of Americanized Mexican classics
+ fast friendly service
Δ plating could be cleaner
Δ tortillas could be less of an afterthought
Note: I'll be leaving on vacation this Friday, so I'm unsure if I will post this Thursday. Normal posting will resume on Sunday 4/8
Avila's El Ranchito is a family owned business that started in the 1966. Although Avila's is a chain restaurant spread across Los Angeles and Orange County, each branch is owned and operated by a member of the Avila family, who puts his or her own personality into the restaurant; in fact, each branch contains slight variations on the menu suited to each owner.
The story of Avila's goes that after immigrating to the United States from Guanajuato, Mexico, Salvador Avila opened the first Avila's in Huntington Park. All the family members pitched into the business to make it work, which was focused on delivering the Avila family recipes in a warm and friendly atmosphere; each customer was to be treated as family. With the burgeoning success of the business, Avila's opened more locations - each new location was put under the supervision of an Avila family member. As more and more stores opened, the family nature of how employees were treated was carried on with each restaurant, so that the servers and cooks were treated as family as well.
Today, Avila's is spread over twelve locations in Los Angeles and Orange County. While there are many location to each restaurant, it is not a true "chain restaurant" as we are used to the word. I met a colleague at Avila's for lunch one day, and he gushed enough about the restaurant to convince me to write a post about the experience.
mayan treasure - shredded chicken, rice, tomatillo sauce, cheese, sour cream, guacamole
My colleague ordered the Mayan treasure, which reminded me of one of really nice authentic burritos I had in LA. The chicken and rice were well cooked and packed into the burrito. The tomatillo sauce provided a nice acidic and mildly spicy contrast to bring out the flavors of the burrito filling. The sauce was easily the star of the dish - after eating a good wet burrito one will never want to go back to the dry burrito. This burrito really confirmed the love of well-prepared wet burritos.
carnitas - black tomatillo salsa, rice, guacamole
The carnitas were tender, juicy, and well cooked on the interior, while they were crispy and savory on the exterior. In short, they were prepared very well. The black tomatillo salsa contained a smoky flavor in addition to the acidity and mild spiciness, which really worked well with the carnitas. My complaint about the dish was that the tortillas came out wrapped in aluminum foil and seemed like an afterthought to the dish. When so much care as been put into the other components, it was a shame that the tortillas did not receive the same respect.

While Avila's is not going to win any awards for the food, it remains a nice stop for a taste of Americanized Mexican cuisine in a warm and friendly atmosphere. I'd easily put it above any of the popular chain Mexican restaurants and even above Cozymel's. While the carnitas were good, the real star for me was the well-prepared wet burrito. When a wet burrito is prepared well, there are many other factors that are easily forgiven.


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About This Blog

gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
None of the reviews are meant to dissuade you from trying anything by yourself, but simply to provide information for you to make a more informed choice.
If any special treatment is provided to the blogger, full disclosure is presented at the beginning of the post.

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