We go here pretty frequently. It is conveniently located and is very popular with locals.
If you come on a busy night, you might be waiting for 15 mins or longer for a table.
The food is always delicious, and they have a large menu. Drinks are big and cold. Prices are very reasonable.
Unfortunately, the service can be good or bad. Sometimes we go there and have no problems, but other times we have to wait long periods of time. Usually this occurs at the beginning or the end of the meal, like waiting for drinks or waiting for the check. We've found that once you get the food order in, it goes pretty quickly.
When things are lagging, we've found its best to just flag down another waiter/waitress and ask them for what you need. It gets the job done and usually that is embarrassing enough for the original server to pay much closer attention to you for the rest of the night.
I've noticed this pattern at other restaurants sometimes, especially where there are a bunch of tables in a big room, and a couple dozen waitstaff hanging around at all times.
The talkative, more socializing waiters will spend the whole time doing just that, socializing. Sometimes with you, but often with other waiters or hostesses. So when your drink gets empty, they can be too busy carrying on a conversation elsewhere to notice for a while.
I'd rather have the quiet guys that run back and forth to the kitchen without saying much. They're attentive and genuine, and I try to reward them with better tips when I can.
If you go here on a weekend or busy night, you'll see what I mean.
Overall El Palenque has good food, a lively atmosphere, and good value, but don't come here if you're uptight or in a hurry.