Savory Sonoran and steakhouse fare at El Trocadero

Raul Bojorquez , Anali Carrillo, and Michael Alvarez with some of the many delicious dishes offered at El Trocadero Mesquite Grill & Cantina in Old Town Newhall.
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In the mood for Mexican cuisine? Or maybe some meat and seafood? Can’t decide? Well, you’re in luck, because El Trocadero Mesquite Grill & Cantina has it all.

The smell of tantalizing mesquite wafting in the air is the first sign that you’re in for a treat here. Then there’s the friendly service, a hallmark of the restaurant’s more than 20-year history at Newhall location.

You’ll be greeted with a smile by Raul Bojorquez , who founded the restaurant in 1998, or his granddaughter Anali Carrillo, who’s been helping out since she was just 4 years old.

Now Carrillo’s the general manager and adding some fresh new touches to the menu to attract foodies to the Old Town Newhall scene, while keeping the classics for long-time patrons who are practically family.

A potent punchbowl drink features fresh fruit juice, extra-long straws, and is recommended for two to share.

That includes refreshing, potent punchbowl drinks laced with rum, vodka, tequila and a myriad of fresh fruit juices. Each drink comes to the table in a rustic earthenware bowl and two extra-long straws. “It requires two people, at least, because there’s two to five cocktails in there,” Carrillo said. “It’s a lot of fun. People really love it.”

The Taste of Sonora offers a bevy of delicious bites and is a great dish to share at the table.

There’s also a new “Taste of Sonora” sampler ($17) that offers a bevy of mighty fine bites: molten, creamy queso fundido flecked with bits of savory homemade chorizo; fork-tender pork swimming in a zesty chile verde sauce; succulent cubes of beef in a rich yet vibrant Colorado-style sauce; and a  mole that combines moist chunks of dark-meat chicken with just the right notes of spice and sweet. Scoop it all up with the soft yet toasty tortillas imported from Sonora.

Anything ordered “Straight Off the Mesquite Grill” is going to be a winner for carnivores. The rib-eye is a thick slab of perfectly grilled beef, marbled with luscious fat that’s crispy on the edges. Served with a mix of fresh veggies, everything is infused with smoky goodness.

 “People ask all the time how we season the meat, but it’s just the grill and salt and the quality of the meat. The mesquite imparts the amazing flavor,” Carrillo said.

Delicious hints of mesquite infuse the ribeye steak and grilled vegetables.

The tampiquera ($23) features a flavorful skirt steak, plus some Mexican classics with the El Trocadero twist, such a chile relleno that’s first grilled on the mesquite, then stuffed with queso and layered with a tasty tomato and chile-tinged enchilada sauce. (That effort pays off – this is the best chile relleno I’ve ever had). There’s also a cheese enchilada combined with spinach and topped with a delectable green sauce, plus smooth, yummy guac that’s made fresh to order (so don’t be afraid to ask to hold the onions or cilantro, if you’re not a fan).

The food at El Trocadero is lighter than you may find at most Mexican restaurants, due to the region it hails from. “Sonoran food is not too heavy on the cream or cheese,” Carrillo noted.

There’s so much good stuff here – several types of burritos  (from $9 to $11, plus $1 to $2 more for cheese, guacamole and/or “wet” style options), and combinations with chile rellenos, enchiladas, gorditas, tamales, tacos, mole, and more, all served with stellar rice and beans, starting at just $8.

Seafood lovers can enjoy a parrillada ($32) overflowing with mahi mahi, shrimp and scallops on a skillet with rice, beans, tortillas and soup or salad. Solo options include mahi mahi ($18), salmon ($19), shrimp ($27) or scallops ($31, that can be cooked creamy ala diabla, breaded, butter and garlic, or mesquite grilled and served with vegetables, beans, rice or baked potato, tortillas, soup and salad. Lighter appetites can be satiated with a variety of soups and salads ($4 to $14).

In the evening, the patio at El Trocadero becomes a destination that’s prime for people watching.  Inside, there’s a festive vibe, thanks to the open-air space and colorful Mexican décor.

So whether you’re on a date, celebrating a milestone, or enjoying a margarita made with fresh lime juice at the convivial bar, the team at El Trocadero strives to make your experience special.

“There’s something here for everyone and our goal is to make you feel like your part of the family when you come in,” Carillo said.

El Trocadero Mesquite Grill & Cantina is located at 24274 Main Street, Newhall. Open Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Breakfast is served on Saturday and Sunday. Full bar. For more information, visit www.eltrocaderosteakhouse.com or call (661) 284-6615.

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Raul Bojorquez , Anali Carrillo, and Michael Alvarez with some of the many delicious dishes offered at El Trocadero Mesquite Grill & Cantina in Old Town Newhall.

The Taste of Sonora offers a bevy of delicious bites and is a great dish to share at the table.

Delicious hints of mesquite infuse the ribeye steak and grilled vegetables.

A potent punchbowl drink features fresh fruit juice, extra-long straws, and is recommended for two to share.

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