Feeding the Senses at El Patron

Feeding the Senses at El Patron 1

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WORCESTER – I always like walking into El Patron Mexican Restaurant, on Harding Street in Worcester.  With its swirl of colors, its bustling activity, its multiethnic and multiage mix of customers, and, not least, its wonderful aromas, wafting through the air, it’s like stepping into a fiesta—which, at day’s end, is a pretty nice thing to do.  

There was even a waitperson parade at one point, singing their way to a little birthday boy (two, maybe) on whose shocked, confused head they placed a great big sombrero.  Fun! At least for us…

One other thing stands out when I enter El Patron.  Although I’m hardly qualified to determine what’s “authentically” Mexican and what’s not (though I did spend some time in Puebla once and even scarfed down some crispy fried grasshoppers), I’ll go out on a limb here and say:  It feels authentic. And it feels good, warm, welcoming.

Shortly after we got seated we were brought some chips and salsa and began making our way through the extensive menu, which includes both “standard” Mexican fare (enchiladas, burritos, and so on) and some more unusual items, like tongue—which, I was told a while back from one of our table-mates, was terrific.  

Wanting generally to stay outside of animals’ mouths, we went toward the more standard stuff — my wife landing on a mix of cheese and chicken enchiladas (rojo on the cheese, verde on the chicken) and I opting for the El Patron asadas, thin pieces of nicely spiced grilled beef and chicken, with some mole sauce on the side, along with rice, beans, and guacamole.  Really good—as always. And don’t underestimate the sides! The rice, in particular—yellowish-gold, a little oily (in a good way), and tender, almost sweet—is great. (One of our daughters just loves the stuff, as we quickly surmised when she brought about ten pounds of it to a relatively small party we all went to a while back.)

Wash it all down with a big mug of margarita, decorated with a little lime, a little orange, and a bright twisty straw, and the colorful, fun fiesta rolls on—all served by an extremely smiley, polite young fellow who did his level best to do well by us throughout the meal.  

El Patron has come to be one of our favorites.  The food is a big part of it, to be sure. But it’s the whole multisensory experience—the colors, the welcoming staff, the bustle, the sights and sounds of happy eaters, and more—that keeps us coming back.  It’s easy and homey and doesn’t break the bank. So when one of us says, “I could go for some Mexican tonight,” we’re off in a heartbeat to El Patron, knowing that we’re bound to have a good meal and a good time.  

I just hope the shell-shocked little birthday boy with the sombrero felt the same!

El Patron Mexican Restaurant is located at 192 Harding Street, Worcester. The restaurant can be contacted at 508-757-8000.


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