Update as of 2/09 ***** This restaurant is no longer in business*****
Location: St Paul
Address: 242 West 7th Street St. Paul, MN 55102 (651) 209-9210
*In the location formerly known as Chico Chica Restaurant
Links: Google Map
Atmosphere: El Patio is a festive and brightly colored authentic Mexican restaurant located just blocks from the Xcel Energy Center. There are booths along one side, a large impressive bar stocked full of various types of tequila and other well-known liquors on the other. Several tall bar tables are placed closely together throughout the middle of the restaurant, taking advantage of every space they have to pack Xcel Center go-ers in before events. There is an additional dining area that is separate from the main restaurant/bar area. The open kitchen is located at in the rear of the building. As the name suggests, there is also a patio area where you can take in the lovely views of W. 7th St.
Menu: Besides the complimentary chips & pico, you may want to start off with shrimp cocktail or a quesadilla. Open for breakfast, El Patio serves a variety of huevos (eggs).
There are literally almost 100 items on the menu including Mexican favorites such as: tacos, tortas, tamales, enchiladas,and chimichangas. Meat choices include the following meats prepared in a variety of dishes: carnitas (pork), chicken, steak and shrimp.
Price guide: Breakfast $8-11 Entrees $13-20
What I ordered: There were so many choices on the menu that it took me a good twenty minutes to look them over and decide what to try. Fortunately tortilla chips, fresh pico de gallo and some other type of spicy sauce were served while I tried to make up my mind.
I went with a combination dinner so that I would be able to try a few different items… Carnitas taco, chicken and cheese enchilada with ranchero sauce, and a chile relleno with steak. Rice and beans were served on the side. The carnitas were wonderful, my favorite item of the three. The meat was really tender and moist , mildly flavored….I dressed mine up with pico and cilantro to add a little kick. The chicken and cheese enchilada was okay, but kind of boring. The sauce had a nice flavor, but there wasn’t much of it. There wasn’t much cheese in the enchilada either, but I enjoyed the large pieces of grilled chicken. The chile relleno was packed with flavor and much spicier than I anticipated. The battered, deep-fried chile was stuffed full of large chunks of steak and fresco cheese and topped with a tangy sauce. The beans and rice that came with the meal were pretty standard. Not bad, but nothing special.
My companion ordered the steak fajitas and had this to say, “They were good. I liked the seasoning of the steak but there was not much steak in comparison of how much peppers and onions there were. There wasn’t enough cheese to put on the fajitas. The beans and rice were very good. And that salsa was hot but excellent.”
Service: Great! I had called in advance to make a reservation since I was anticipating a large crowd (there was a concert happening at the Xcel Center that night), and they were happy to accommodate. The hostess also explained that parking might be hard to find that night, but that they would validate it. Our server was friendly, pleasant, and patient while I gazed over the menu.
Overall Impression: Decent food, but higher than most other restaurants of the same caliber. Fun place to go before an event at the X.