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Sunday, August 19, 2012

El Molino: Only so-so

Lunch date #20: June 29, 2012

We were a bit strapped for time and wanted Mexican food. I have been on a quest to find good Mexican food in Pleasanton, but for the most part, have been disappointed. I like Blue Agave-but it is more upscale, and not a place for a quick lunch.  Mom likes Fernando's as it reminds her of Celia's on the Peninsula. Neither of us is fond of Alberto's other than the location on Main Street.  One of Emily's friends, Lexi, had recommended El Molino (5321 Hopyard Rd) and said it was rather "authentic", so we thought we'd give it a try.

Location 2.5 points: In the strip mall at Hopyard and Owens behind Burger King. Nothing appealing about this no frills location-other that there is an OK sized parking lot and easy access.

Ambiance 2.5 points: Definitely low end, tacqueria style place: vinyl booths, chipped plates.  Mom liked the Hispanic music. It is an order-at-the-counter and someone-brings-the-food, sort of place. They also have a few outside tables facing the parking lot, but the day we were there was a bit on the cool side, so no one sat outside.

Menu 4 points:  They boast a very full menu with many lunch specials at very good prices. Lots of choices, with all of the usual stand-by favorites: chile verde, enchiladas, tacos, flautas, burritos, tamales…you get the idea. They offer both a la carte or combination choices.

Chili Relleno swimming in beans
Food 3 points: I was very disappointed with the chile relleno: way too mushy and quite bland. I also ordered a taco: way too drippy. The chips weren't very good or crisp. Mom also ordered the chile relleno and refried beans: the beans formed a runny lake on her plate engulfing the chile relleno. She didn't seem to mind, however, and actually ate it all! No left overs for her that day!        

Service 4 points: Very friendly older gentleman taking the orders and younger guys bringing out the food. For counter service, they were very attentive and even brought out drink refills. The food was brought out very fast…maybe too fast to have been made fresh to order!
Friendly server!

Value 3.5 points: Here is where Mom and I had a difference of opinion: I wanted to give it a 3—really not much better than Taco Bell, but on the bright side—about the same as Taco Bell regarding prices. Portions are small, but considering the low prices (about $2.50 for chili relleno) what do you expect? Mom actually liked it and appreciated the value of about $7 for a complete lunch including drinks…but then again, she likes Fernando's--- so there you are!

Overall score for El Molino: 3.25 points. Kind of get what you pay for…cheap Mexican food. As to whether it is authentic, I can't say, but the quality is just not there. Their motto is "Where others are concerned with luxury, we concentrate on quality."  I'm not so sure is true. Why is it so hard to find decent Mexican food in Pleasanton?

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