El Chico, the authentic Mexican food chain from Southern United States, opened its third branch in the UAE on Friday 23rd Jan.
El Chico has a branch on JBR, Dubai. In Abu Dhabi, the chain already had a presence in Dalma Mall, and given the high demand for authentic Mexican cuisine, El Chico has now opened its second branch in the capital in the very stylish World Trade Center Mall.
“We are humbled and excited by the positive reaction to El Chico’s first outlet in Abu Dhabi and this motivated us to pick up the game and return the enthusiasm by opening our second outlet in the capital in a matter of months.” – Mr. Mohammed, Group Chairman, Saleh Bin Lahej Group (Hospitality Division).
The El Chico franchise has been introduced to the UAE by the Hospitality division of Saleh Bin Lahej Group. The group has brought other foodie favorites to the region including Silver Fox, Chili’s and The Pizza Company.
I had the pleasure of being one of the first diners at El Chico’s newest branch in World Trade Center mall, Abu Dhabi last weekend.
Have you been to WTC mall, Abu Dhabi? This was my first visit and I was fascinated by the souk-inspired architecture that somehow managed to look very contemporary. I love the look of wood, it never looks dated. El Chico opened with much fanfare on the second floor of WTC Mall.
The opening was inaugurated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by Mr. Mohammed Al Delail (Chief Operating Officer at Saleh Bin Lahej Group), and Mr. Rafik Farouk (Vice President, Franchise Operations and Development). We had a scrumptious Mexican fiesta at El Chico. My father in-law was staying with us all of this month, so including my 4 year-old, we were a table of four.
For drinks, I thought it would be totally apt to order the Mexican Flag. This is a parfait-style smoothie in the colors of the Mexican flag with color-coordinated layers of avocado smoothie, pina colada and strawberry daiquiri. My hubby had Margarita on the Rocks, a refreshing Mexican-style lime mocktail. For starters, we ordered Chicken Wings and Fried Mozzarella Cheese. (El Chico also serves a famed guacamole starter. You must try out their recipe here.) El Chico’s Chicken Wings is marinated in a blend of secret Mexican sauces resulting in a very flavorful bite. These are not your regular crunchy wings variety, but have a tastefully moist texture. The bleu cheese dip that came with this platter made the wings even more decadent.
What’s not to love about Fried Mozzarella Cheese? Gooey, stretchy cheese battered and deep fried to a golden brown, and served with El Chico’s Ranchera sauce. These beauties must come from mozzarella heaven! And if you have kids who are fussy eaters, these go down without any cribbing.
And did I mention they have a separate menu for the kids? The El Chico kids menu is divided by age-group (8 to 12 years, and 8 and below). This menu was obviously designed by a mum who knows kid’s choices vary greatly by age-group!
I also love how delightfully bright and Mexican the kids’ menu looks, and it doubles up as an activity book that comes with a couple to crayons to keep little diners preoccupied. My daughter had the Enchilada Dinner. It was a generous serving of Enchilada chicken strips, Mexican rice and a bean mash. It also had a bowl of strawberry jelly on the side. My father in-law went for the hearty Cascabel Ribeye. The steak is high-quality certified Angus beef, and has been basted in El Chico’s special Cascabel sauce.
Cascabel chili is an authentic Mexican dried chili. It is also known ‘rattle chili’ as the seeds inside the dried pods rattle when shaken. My husband ordered the El Rancho. This is a large platter of delectable grilled chicken breast served on a bed of caramelized onions and green peppers. It is topped with pico de gallo (a traditional Mexican salsa mix made of fresh tomatoes, cilantro and onion).
For the sides, hubby chose Mexican rice and beans. This dish also comes with a beef burrito stuffed with minced beef, sour cream and chili con carne. Overall, the El Rancho is a mighty dish that can easily be shared between two. Mine was comparatively a smaller order. I had the Taco Dinner.
This was a soft flour tortilla stuffed with beef mince, grated cheddar, tomatoes and lettuce. I decided to order sautéed vegetables and potato wedges on the side, but the tortilla was so filling that the wedges went untouched. And now comes my favorite course of a meal, dessert time!
Hubby and father in-law are not big fans of sweet treats, so I ordered the Mexican Apple Pie for myself. This is an absolutely divine dessert. The pastry crust was flaky yet moist, and the apple filling was tender and had just the right amount of sweet. The pie was topped with a Mexican butter sauce that was served sizzling on the skillet.
To top it off, all this rich decadence was cooled down with a generous scoop of beautifully spiced cinnamon ice-cream.
Hubby didn’t need much encouragement for helping me with this slice (even though he claims to detest desserts). It was gone before we knew it. For me, this pie was the highlight of our meal, and I might just pop into an El Chico branch just for another slice.
If authentic Mexican food is what you’re craving, satisfy your taste-buds at an El Chico branch near you. At El Chico it’s always fiesta time!