The Dish: El Patron doesn’t impress

Pictured are shrimp fajitas from El Patron Mexican Grill in Opelika.

I love a good Mexican restaurant. Endless chips and salsa, a good margarita and sizzling fajita is a treat I like to afford myself on a regular basis.

Recently, a friend and I went to El Patron Mexican Grill on Frederick Road in Opelika. I had gone before and had a pretty good meal, so when my gal pal said she was in the mood for tacos, we headed to the quaint Mexican restaurant.

Though it was a Monday, many of the booths were filled in the comfortable dining area. We hadn’t been sat down for 30 seconds when a waiter brought out chips and salsa. I also ordered a side of cheese dip, because well, it’s also a must in a Mexican restaurant. I unfortunately didn’t indulge in a margarita.

I’m in the medium-range when it comes to salsa. I don’t want to burn my mouth, but I like a little kick. The salsa was good and had barely a kick, which meant it wouldn’t scare off anyone with mild taste buds. Though it was a little watery for my liking, I continued to eat it and joined in the good conversation with my dinner guest.

I ordered the shrimp fajitas, no beans and no tomatoes. Though I love Mexican, I detest beans. Can’t eat them. Won’t eat the rice that touches them. Blah. My friend went with the taco salad, satisfying her want of a hard-shell from tacos and an abundance of meat, cheese and lettuce.

As we waited for the food, I dived into the cheese dip. Again, good, but not the best I’ve ever had. But again, it did its job to keep me eating the chips as we waited for our food to arrived.

Then our food arrived. Well, kind of.

My food came out sizzling and hot, as fajitas should. But the beans were on the side plate with the rice, lettuce, guacamole, etc. Though I specifically asked for it not to be there, I could get around the fact that they were on the plate.

However, to eat fajitas, you need shells. Our waitress told me that someone would be bringing my shells shortly. After waiting 10 minutes, my shells had not arrived. It took another five minutes to flag her down to ask for the shells again. She apologized and hurried away. Another few minutes later, I was able to eat my fajitas.

The first few were very good, but because I had to wait so long to dig in, by the time I reached my last tortilla, my food was cold. But during the few hot bites I had, the shrimp was very good, and I was able to add on the fixings of my choice. The meal was very good. I just wished I could have dug in right away.

Across the table from me, my friend indulged in her taco salad. She again had the same reaction as I had to my food, “good, but not great.”

I worked as a waitress for many years. I know mistakes happen. However, the fact that no one came to check on us for such a long time and it took as long as it did to fix the situation didn’t leave a good impression on me. Though it was busy for a Monday, in no way was it slammed to where the staff couldn’t regularly check in on the guests.

Will I go back? Likely. Am I rushing back? No.

El Patron Mexican Grill

2212 Frederick Road, Opelika

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m; open 7 days a week

Health score: 96

Score: 2.5 forks

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