Monday, October 17, 2011

El Jinete Rides High

Wasn't el jinete
the original cowboy?

      Since Chi-Chi's flew into a cloud of food poisoning in 2004, there have been a number of local Mexican restaurants and chains pop up on the scene.  One of the latest in our area is El Jinete, now with 3 locations including the latest in Montgomery.  Four of us visited for lunch shortly after their grand opening.  It was my first visit to El Jinete so I wasn't
really expecting anything different from its many competitors.  

El Jinete's Remodeled Space in Montgomery
      This particular space was a Greek restaurant when I first moved to Cincinnati with the last occupant being a rival of El Jinete's...El Rancho Grande.  We were greeted at the entrance by a band (not literally) of Latin men obviously happy to see us.  That set the mood and the mostly grande experience continued from there.  The place had received a major facelift with the garish colors toned down and the surfaces upgraded.  A substantial bar was the focal point with tables and booths surrounding it.  There's also an outdoor walled patio.

      We settled into our booth and the lunch menu.  Anisha ordered the guacamole for us all to sample.  I liked the presentation, but it consisted mostly of mashed avocados that I found bland and in need of some supplements.  
Guacamole and Chips
The taco chips were warm and light and I had to stop myself from making them my meal.  The salsa was mild but with lots of flavor.  A kicked up version was also offered.  Karen ordered the Grilled Chicken Breast served with rice and beans and topped with sliced jalapeños.  This time the taste lived up to the skillfully laid out image.  We joked that the breast appeared to be a DD.  Anisha and Melissa chose the Mushroom Quesadilla with pico de gallo and served with rice and beans.  

Grilled Chicken Breast
Mushroom Quesadilla
Lunch Combo with Chicken Burrito

Chile Relleno
All of the ingredients were fresh and the taco shells properly grilled.  My selection was the Lunch Combo from which I chose a Chicken Burrito and Chile Relleno, also served with rice and refried beans.  Although the burrito was moderately filled, the flavors were good and the chicken was tender.  The chile relleno was one of the best I've had in a while.

      So the question becomes "do we need another moderately-priced Mexican restaurant in Cincinnati?"  El Jinete raises the bar ever so slightly with its presentation and use of fresh ingredients.  The service was friendly and genuine, and the surroundings suitable and comfortable for its guests.  All in all, I think the answer is "yes, when it's El Jinete"!

El Jinete on Urbanspoon

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