I used to live around the corner from this place 20+ years ago and visited once and remember the food being ho-hum at best. There are lines most of the time to get in and never made it back for another chance.
Last Christmas, we bought their Gift Certificate at Costco as a way to force us back and see what brings in lines of people. Our first trip was awful. My daughter and I both ordered the Tostada and it's basically a plate of shredded iceburg lettuce with a small slice of tomato and olive on top. My husband had something filled with cheese as their menu doesn't give a lot of options (ie.cheese enchilada only, no chicken). Salsa seemed to come from a jar and wasn't fresh.
After carrying around the remaining money on our gift certificate for over 6 months, my husband and I decided to trick our daughter and not tell her where we were gong for dinner. If she knew it was Manuel's, there would be a lot of complaining. I went in with the intention of ordering the "right thing" as there has to be some attraction! My true test of a Mexican Restaurant are their Chili Rellenos, so that was my pick. My husband and daughter both ordered Combo burritos which means you get beans with your chicken (must pay extra for this feature). Jar salsa was poured and 2 Don Julio Reposado Margs ordered. The margaritas had a chemical taste to them and it wasn't the Don Julio. Normally, I like them without a mix, just lime, some agave syrup, and booze. Not sure what the taste was, but for $10, I was drinking it. The Rellenos looked like they came off a Cisco food truck, both perfectly shaped round and tasted like burnt egg. My husband"s and daughter's burrito had a "Taco Bell" flavor to them. Taco Bell has a very distinct taste which even the most discerning palate can ID.
Service was fine and food was served beyond hot, not in flavor but in heat.
There's another place, much in size as Manuel's, a few miles away. They use the freshest ingredients, make margaritas you can do the backstroke in and there is no comparison in food quality with Manuel's. There is usually a line as well, but the wait is justifiable.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.