Not being able to find El Tapatio on our GPS by its address, we entered a nearby intersection and proceeded to follow the verbal instructions through the foggy and raining night. Upon hearing "You have arrived!" we realized that we were passing several strip malls on either side with major national chain stores. Being on a divided highway with dedicated turn lanes, we decided to drive further along and look for the opportunity to do a U-turn. Suddenly the divided highway ended and we chose to cross over and take advantage of a small liquor store's parking lot for our turn. Lo and behold, attached to the liquor store was El Tapatio.
It appears that this approximately 40 seat business is family run. The chef was sitting and talking to a couple of other customers in one of the other Formica booths until he saw us enter. He then returned to the easy-to-see kitchen behind the countertop with the cash register.
The lone hostess/waitress seated us at one of the booths, brought us menus and inquired about a drink order. From the mix of several Mexican, mass-market American, and one Dutch, we both chose bottles of Negra Modelo (approx. $5 each). Each was served with a wedge of lime protruding from the bottle's open neck, and without a glass.
For an appetizer (antojito), we ordered Chalupas ($5.95) - with broiled chicken, instead of the optional beef, on a soft fried tortilla. This was a sizeable portion of two double thick tortillas and could have been a meal in itself if we hadn't shared it. Some refried beans were spread between the top and bottom tortillas before the toppings of chicken, and guacamole were added. It was quite enjoyable and flavorful, the chicken was still moist.
From the Platos Principales my wife chose Cesina Estilo Guerrero ($10.95) for her entree - thin steak with pico de gallo and guacamole sauce, rice, and beans. The "thin steak" is beef that must have been thinly sliced on a meat slicer like roast beef. Whatever additional preparation is done gives it a consistency similar to beef jerky. The spicing that is applied to the beef makes it flavorful, however. The pico de gallo was a fresh mix of tomatoes, onions and peppers.
My entree choice was Tapiqueña de Carnes ($11.95) - three different meats: pork; Mexican sausage; and steak; with guacamole sauce, rice, and beans. I'm thrilled whenever I can find real Mexican sausage (chorizo) and this was the real thing. The cubes of pork and beef were also nicely seasoned and spiced and provided a good mix of flavors and textures. Our entrees also came with a basket of approximately 6 fresh and hot tortillas which we shared.
Service was efficient at this brightly-lit, paper-napkin, family-run restaurant.