Dinner Out At El Patio Bar And Grill In El Monte

If you're craving Mexican food, there are innumerable, notable places in the greater Los Angeles area. That's also the case, in the city of El Monte. So, imagine my surprise when we walked into the Mexican style hacienda of El Patio Bar and Grill and checked out the menu.

What? No tacos, no burritos? Nope, the chef, Enrique Gomez recognized Mexican food is available everywhere in El Monte; he wanted to exercise his creativity and offer something different.

Chips and salsa, yep, you can get that. But also, seven different kinds of scratch made moles and pasta! Pasta? Apparently, the chef recognized, there's not much in the way of Italian food in El Monte AND one of the other chefs used to work at a high end Italian restaurant in Upland. So, bam! El Patio offers pasta and ravioli.

Chef made for me his Spicy Cajun Shrimp pasta. The sauce is redolent with saffron. it's spicy thanks to a habanero puree; a splash of heavy cream cools the heat a touch and adds richness. Umai!

His chile relleno may surprise you too. Instead of battered and fried, this is a fresh roasted pasilla chile, stuffed with chicken, cheese or for me, shrimp and mozzarella. The chile is topped with a creamy white sauce with fresh slices of jalapeno's. This one is for those who like it hot but want to control the amount of heat. Eat those jalapeno's for a heat treat. If things get too hot, Chef suggests one of his cocktails also created by him. He recommended his cucumber margarita with the chile relleno. It's herb-y, not sweet and way better than a traditional margarita.

A relleno with a twist, a margarita with a twist, you might think his mole's are a little twisty too. Actually, his mole negro is fairly traditional; 27 different ingredients; with a strong taste of the dried chile negro. But instead of chicken, Chef drizzles his mole over expertly grilled lamb chops; just a little and just enough to compliment the umami of the meat but not enough to obscure it.

The chicken enchiladas come with a green pistachio mole. The sauce is actually a mix of pistachios, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. That allows the chef to avoid any other kind of thickener, such as corn starch or flour. The result is a creamy, tasty mole with just a hint of heat.

The restaurant's owner Joe and his son Gabriel admitted that the name of the restaurant is a bit problematic because people are expecting traditional Mexican when instead they call it Euro Mexican. I joked, instead of El pah-tee-oh, perhaps, we should just call it the Patio with a short 'a.'

(cue the polite laugh)

11672 Ramona Boulevard

El Monte, CA 91732-2308

(626) 444-1963

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