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El Charro joins Mexican fare fun

El Charro is the newest Mexican restaurant in La Jolla, and it’s one of the best values in town.

The eatery has a colorful interior with terra cotta and gold walls, a bamboo counter, and attractive Mexican wall hangings adding an authentic flavor to the decor. The outdoor patio is even more inviting, with a wall of greenery surrounding the tables and chairs and creating a perfect spot for people-watching while you dine.

Nothing fancy about the service or table settings. You order from the board and wait for the kitchen to whip up your meal. Everything is prepared to order, but the service is fast and friendly. You’ll have to settle for paper plates and plastic utensils, but not for anything less than quality food.

We were delighted with everything we tried on a recent visit, and we sampled several tempting dishes. If you love shrimp, you’ll find several shrimp dishes to savor at El Charro. One of the best is the camaron al mojo de ajo, shrimp in garlic sauce. This heavenly shrimp preparation, like all the seafood dinners on the varied menu, sells for $9.60.

You can also get your shrimp with a little kick or served with a ranchero sauce. All three shrimp preparations are first rate. Ditto for the red snapper fillet in garlic sauce, and the whole fried red snapper. El Charro even offers octopus in a diabla sauce for more adventurous eaters.

We loved the shrimp tacos too. Priced at just $2.95, these delicate shrimp tacos are made with crispy shrimp, a white sauce, shredded cabbage, and a slice of lime. You can even opt for a lobster taco ($3.75). This taco, made with lobster tails prepared in a tempura batter, are stuffed into a soft corn tortilla with lettuce, tomato, and creamy sauce.

You can’t go wrong with a combination plate served with rice and beans. The combos are chock full of great choices, such as the lobster taco and shrimp taco, cheese enchilada and chicken enchilada, four rolled tacos available in beef or chicken and tamale and cheese enchilada. You can get a veggie combo consisting of cheese quesadillas and vegetable taco for $6.25. The other combo choices run up to $6.95, which is a very good value, considering the generous portion sizes.

El Charro just opened its doors in La Jolla a few short months ago, and it is already making many friends in the area.

The restaurant has a salsa bar, and plenty of chips for you to dip while you wait for your meal to come out of the kitchen. Just wait until the summer crowd discovers this value-packed little eatery. El Charro will be bursting at the seams, so enjoy it now, while the crowds are still manageable.

El Charro is at 2175 Avenida de la Playa. Call (858) 459-7900.