So I made a quick follow-up on a positive response to my El Chipotle question a few days ago. I was surpised when I showed up that, while they do a takeout business, this is a sitdown place with table service. I ordered a chicken and a pork tamal and a carnitas taco.
The tamales came- fairly large and covered in a verde sauce with a bit of melted cheese. I was quite surpised when I cut into them to find a very thin layer of masa with a lot of filling. I thought the verde sauce was very good- a nice modest chile flavor with a bit of heat that was nicely balanced by the acidity of tomatillos. The masa was delicate and nicely flavored though not as rich and corny as some I have had. The filling was interesting and I am still not sure exactly what it was. The chunks of meat were in what I would describe as a very thick 'sauce'. This was a very soft textured puree with a modest chile flavor but did not seem like a reduced chile sauce. Overall very nice but not the power and purity of my refence pork fat driven El Paisano tamales. I suspect some of the subtle flavor of the masa may have been obscured by the verde sauce. As for pork vs. chicken- I would not bet my life on being able to differentiate them in a blind tasting. I think this tamal would be very popular with people who tend to find tamales too heavy.
Carnitas taco. Very generous serving of good quality carnitas. They were topped with onion/cilantro and a nice roasted salsa. Could have been a bit crisper and the tortilla could have been toasted more but that is a fairly consistent complaint of mine.
Sides- chips were fine and provided with a decent salsa fresca. Jamaica was also good and not overly sweet. The service was also good and very friendly.
This place may not be exciting and different enough to make me drive from the far west side of Santa Cruz (passing 30 or 40 competitors) but I quite enjoyed it. I am sure I would be back quickly if I lived in the area. As it is I will return to check out a few other interesting things on the menu- pozole, mole and a chicken tinga filling.
EL CHIPOTLE TAQUERIA
4724 SOQUEL DR SOQUEL, CA 95073