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“Mexican-cheap” 4 of 5 stars
Review of El Mariachi

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El Mariachi
5825 Merle Hay Rd, Johnston, IA 50131
(515) 276-3887
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Ranked #10 of 42 restaurants in Johnston
Cuisines: Mexican
Restaurant details
West Des Moines, Iowa
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Mexican-cheap”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2013 via mobile

This is our "go to" place for lunch. With tip my individual bill usually comes between $6-8 depending on my beverage choice. Staff is very friendly and recognizes the regulars. Essentially the food is average, but very cheap (whole meal cheaper than fast food choices). Fridays are very busy so it takes longer to get food, you usually still never have to wait for a seat. You can Minh on chips and salsa while you wait.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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18 reviews from our community

83% Recommend
    4
    11
    2
    0
    1
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Junction City, Kansas
Top Contributor
82 reviews 82 reviews
51 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 48 cities Reviews in 48 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
“Meets my standards”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2013

I am extremely picky when it comes to Mexican restaurants. So I was a bit apprehensive when my brother-in-law said he had found a "good one".

As it turns out, my brother-in-law picked a good spot and here is what I thought of it.

FOOD: 4/5
I base all my first impressions off the chips and salsa they start you off with. You get a little flask of salsa (with free refills) and I was glad to find that the default salsa has a little punch to it. So my first impression was rather positive (to contrast, I've seen some Mexican restaurants start you off with the most bland red salsa they could find).
I ordered the "El Mariachi Special" which was very delicious and filling. It went amazingly well with the much hotter salsa verde that my wife didn't want. It would have been nice to have an option of corn tortillas, but the flour ones were just fine.

SERVICE: 4/5
Our glasses were promptly topped off--very important when you're eating spicy Mexican food!

ATMOSPHERE: 3/5
Not the most atmospheric Mexican restaurant I've been to, but it gets the job done.

VALUE: 4/5
Weighing the food and service against the cost of the food, I thought it was a good value, about on par with what I'm used to paying for in a sit-down Mexican Restaurant.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE RESTAURANT:
1) Bring out that hotter Salsa Verde in addition to the default red salsa.
2) Offer corn tortillas in addition to flour ones.

OVERALL: 4/5
As an Arizonan, it's nice to see that there is at least one restaurant in Des Moines that knows what good Mexican food tastes like. Will definitely return.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Des Moines, Iowa
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Great Mexian at a great price!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 24, 2013

Great Mexican at a great price! Super good deal and great taste, what more can you want? Great service, fast too. would be good for lunch, my husband goes here for work lunch with the guys all the time and says is really cheap and tastes great, 5.50 for lunch and good portions, what more can you ask for?
Can't go wrong~

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“We visit here often”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

We try to stop here when we are in the Des Moines area. The food is good and the drinks are better. We can usually get in and get out quickly. The service is good as well.

Visited May 2013
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Ozark, Missouri
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
57 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Really? It was terrible.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2013 via mobile

The food was fresh. Unfortunately, it had poor flavor and just overall did not taste good. The restaurant looks to be an old burger joint, and doesn't really set the atmosphere. Service wasnt good and the waiter had difficulty keeping glasses full. I would recommend you not waste your time.

  • Visited May 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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