I take Chowhound comments seriously, and went to 3 highly recommended places last week. First was the Iron Works, a BBQ joint. It rated highly for BBQ ambience, good for quality of cooking, but mediocre for quality of meat- a big issue. Poor cuts of meat almost never become great BBQ. And the cheapest of cheap plastic forks, etc. are put out. Overall, good if you're nearby and hungry for this food, but not worth a special effort.
Next was Casino El Camino. Warning: this is a dive of a bar with a walk-up window for food where you order and serve yourself. The menu is all burgers, basically, and I suspect if you're lucky you could have a very good one here.But I wasn't lucky. Despite a relatively slow night, I waited 40 minutes before my simple order was ready.The meat was cooked to complete dryness. I thought about asking for another, but thought best not to after seeing the"'chefs". They looked and acted like work- release program people. And there were quite a few loud and very foul- mouthed patrons. This joint isn't for dining, it's eating, at best. Not for polite company.
Discouraged with my experiences so far, I trucked on. This time I landed at Manuel's, a rather sophisiticated Mexican place near the major hotels. Winner, at last! Great food, ambience, and service.Prices are slightly above what you'll pay at the cantina type places, but I thought it a bargain. I know Mexican cuisine very well and for this caliber of food it's a deal. Highly recommended.
I regret missing the Roaring Fork, but hope to visit again soon.