El Tapatio: authentic Mexican food with vegetarian options

Who can resist great Mexican food? A chip loaded with fresh guacamole? The smell of sizzling fajitas? A frosty pitcher of margaritas? Not this vegetarian! The problem is that sometimes Mexican restaurants forget about us herbivores and slip meat in between the cracks of their menu. Well, luckily, if you are vegetarian and live in the Northwest United States, you now have the option of El Tapatio.

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Let’s meet the maker: The founder and owner of the El Tapatio restaurant chain is a man named Efren Guitron. Though El Tapatio only recently became a vegetarian-friendly smorgasbord, the brand actually has a long history. Guitron grew up in rural Mexico, in a tiny village called Cuautla in the state of Jalisco. Nestled between Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara, Cuautla is so small, it is sometimes not even included on maps of the region. Guitron moved to the United States in 1970, hoping to create a new life. He went to Seattle, Washington, to work for some relatives in their restaurant. That was the beginning of a long, passionate career. He spent ten years working at that restaurant, learning everything he could about running a business and making delicious Mexican food for US diners. He was shown old family recipes for regional dishes that had been passed down through the generations. After ten years, he opened his first El Tapatio restaurant in the fall of 1980 in Milwaukie, Oregon. It was not an overnight success. Guitron spent five years working the restaurant all by himself. He was the greeter, the chef, the server and the dishwasher all wrapped up into one. Despite the overwhelming workload, he made a commitment to always serve amazing food and create a great atmosphere. After five years, his restaurant was so popular that he had lines of people waiting outside to get a table. He gradually expanded, first by hiring his wife to work alongside him, then by hiring other staff and opening new locations. Today, after nearly 40 years in business, El Tapatio has 16 locations across California, Oregon and Washington. And they are so popular, they are planning to continue expanding. Despite the growth, Guitron still firmly believes in his family recipes and wants each diner to feel like they are getting the personal attention he gave his customers when the restaurant first opened. The result is delicious and welcoming. No wonder El Tapatio is more popular than ever!

El Tapatio
El Tapatio


So, how ’bout that menu?

El Tapatio cares about quality. The recipes are authentic, the ingredients are high-grade, the preparation is fresh and the restaurants are colorful and friendly. The owner and his staff say they want a meal at El Tapatio to feel like a visit to your grandmother’s house. All of these commitments explain why El Tapatio has flourished. However, until recently, it was less welcoming to vegetarian customers. Thankfully, that has changed. The biggest problems for vegetarians at Mexican restaurants are the culture of meat in Mexico and all of the lard. Authentic Mexican is delicious, it’s amazing, it’s also usually all about the meat. However El Tapatio has made a point of including vegetarian options throughout the menu. There is a good selection of appetizers, including guacamole and cheese quesadillas. There are vegetarian salads, and other salad options that could be ordered without the featured meat since everything is made fresh. I would recommend the New Cancun Salad which has lettuce, avocado and pepitas topped with pico de gallo, cheese, tortilla strips and their homemade chipotle vinaigrette dressing. They have a few options for vegetarian burritos, and enchiladas, as well as chiles rellenos, huevos rancheros, and fajitas. For a twist, the veggie burrito comes with broccoli and cauliflower inside, along with carrots, onions and bell peppers. Be sure to look at the spinach enchiladas as well; they are smothered in homemade salsa verde, then served with avocado, mushrooms and tomato. You might look at these options and think “well, yeah. Isn’t that basically the same as every other Mexican restaurant?” But you would be forgetting about the lard. Lard is used in loads of traditional Mexican recipes, especially anything that comes with refried beans. Which is every main dish on the menu at El Tapatio. However, a few years ago they decided it was time to revise their menu and make it healthier. They changed the way they prepared and cooked their meats, they switched from processed salt to sea salt and they decided to eliminate the lard from all of their dishes. They now use vegetable oil and canola oil for any recipes that used to contain lard. And because this was a very conscientious project, they took time fiddling with all of their recipes to make sure they would all still taste amazing, no matter what fats were being used. This had the combined benefit of making their entire menu healthier and more welcoming to vegetarian customers.

Well, that deserves a toast!

If you are a vegetarian who also happens to be over 21 years old, check out the cantina at El Tapatio where they make and serve the adult beverages. They have a selection of beers on tap, over 50 varieties of tequila and an assortment of mixed drinks and cocktails. Of course, the star of the drinks menu is the sweet and salty margarita. El Tapatio claim to make the “best house margarita in town,” so be sure to check it out.

El Tapatio
El Tapatio

Why not see for yourself?

El Tapatio deserves a thumbs up from its vegetarian customers. Although there are more meat and fish dishes than vegetarian dishes on the menu, they still have a lot of veggie options. And eliminating lard from all of their recipes means vegetarians can relax and enjoy their meal with no risk of surprise meat in the beans. Fresh food, family recipes, a friendly atmosphere and quality ingredients, what’s not to like? Find the nearest El Tapatio location and more information about their quality commitments and menu by visiting their website: www.eltapatiocuisine.com.

El Tapatio restaurants: Mexican fare with authentic flair

If you find yourself craving fresh and delicious Mexican food in the Northwestern United States, there is no need to fly all the way to Mexico, just find your nearest El Tapatio restaurant. With locations in California, Oregon, and Washington, they are ready to serve you authentic Mexican recipes at fantastic prices, leaving your mouth and your wallet equally satisfied. This business is family-owned and family-run, and they have made a commitment to presenting the best traditional Mexican recipes using fresh ingredients and the healthiest cooking methods available. As they say on their website, they want you to feel like you’re eating at your grandma’s house whenever you dine with them.

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From humble origins to a successful operation: The incredible story of the chain of El Tapatio restaurants starts with just one man. Efren Guitron, the founder of El Tapatio, was born and raised in a tiny, rural town called Cuautla, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. This town, located between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, is in fact so small that most maps do not bother to even list it! Efren Guitron made his way to the United States in 1970 to create a new life for himself. He began working for a relative at their restaurant in Seattle, Washington, and learned all about how to run a restaurant and use authentic, regional recipes. Ten years later, in the fall of 1980, Efren Guitron opened his first El Tapatio restaurant in Milwaukie, Oregon. This first restaurant was small, only ten tables, and Guitron operated it literally by himself for five years. He was the owner, host, cook, waiter and dishwasher! He was dedicated and worked incredibly hard to create delicious food and an appealing atmosphere and after five years, his work paid off. The restaurant’s popularity grew quickly, there were lines of customers waiting to get a table, so he began to expand and the brand is still growing to this day, nearly 30 years later. El Tapatio now has more than 20 different branches in 3 different states and continues to be a customer favorite.

El Tapatio restaurants
El Tapatio restaurants

A commitment to quality, health and authenticity

 

Since the beginning, Guitron wanted to ensure that his diners had not only a delicious experience, but an authentic one as well. To that end, they prefer to use family recipes that have been passed down through the generations as well as traditional regional recipes from Mexico. However, they have incorporated a few unique dishes that add a twist of the United States and Guitron’s own creativity into the menu. To be sure that everything will taste incredible, El Tapatio uses only fresh, quality ingredients. Guitron recently chose to take some steps to make their menu selections healthier as well. The chefs took some time and have created adapted recipes that no longer use any lard or other unhealthy oils. The menu now features all the Mexican dishes their customers love, with the same fantastic flavor, but now they are all prepared with healthier alternatives, like vegetable and canola oils.

 

An atmosphere to make you feel right at home

 

Guitron strongly believes in making his diners feel comfortable in his restaurants. He wants each customer to feel like they are visiting family, from the home-style recipes, to the décor. All El Tapatio restaurants have been designed and decorated to be colorful, welcoming, and homey. This relaxed, cheerful atmosphere reinforces the backbone of family for this brand and makes dining in at the restaurant a great choice for any occasion, for guests of all ages.

 

Something for everyone: a look at the menu

The menu is vast, with dozens of options. You will find familiar favorites, including guacamole, nachos, quesadillas, tacos, fajitas, burritos, and enchiladas. However, you will also be able to try a few items that are a bit more unique. Guitron himself is especially proud of the molcajete. This dish comes served in a hot stone bowl, like a mortar. You can choose which meat you would like featured, and that comes accompanied by their homemade salsa verde, beans, radishes, sautéed cactus and Monterrey Jack, Cotija and Oaxaca cheeses. Nearly everything on the menu is served with generous portions of rice, beans and homemade tortillas on the side. And, of course, every table is greeted with tortilla chips and salsa.

 

El Tapatio restaurants
El Tapatio restaurants

Whatever the occasion, come celebrate with El Tapatio

 

No matter how formal or casual, how planned or spontaneous, El Tapatio is a great choice for any event. The colorful dining rooms make eating at the restaurants a joy. The welcoming atmosphere is great for all kinds of customers, from college buddies wanting to celebrate over a pitcher of margaritas in the cantina, to families wanting to eat with babies and grandparents. If your event would be better suited to a different venue, they offer a full catering service allowing you to enjoy their authentic recipes wherever your celebration takes you. They offer specials for lunch, making this an ideal choice to spice up the middle of your work day. They also have dine-in or take away options, so that you can still enjoy delicious, authentic flavor even if you do not have the time to enjoy the dining room atmosphere. Every Sunday, they have a huge brunch. The options include a taco bar, omelet bar, beans, rice, enchiladas, a dessert bar, and more. They also, naturally, include a selection of horchata and mimosas. On Tuesdays, they have a Taco Tuesday event all day, where you can make your own tacos at the extensive taco bar. Be creative and stuff your fresh tortillas with lengua, chorizo, carnitas, steak or chicken. As if these weekly deals were not already enough reason to come to El Tapatio, they also have a daily happy hour every afternoon from 3-7 and again from 9 until they close. They boast that they make the best margaritas around, and the only way for you to find out, would be to head on over and try one. For more information about their menu and locations, visit their website at www.eltapatiocuisine.com.

El Tapatio: Mexican food to suit your lifestyle

If you are like me, you know how to appreciate a great Mexican restaurant. From the basic beans and rice, to the creative sizzling fajitas, nothing beats a delicious, authentic Mexican meal. Except maybe a sweet and salty margarita. However, with hidden lard and packaged or frozen menu items, some Mexican restaurants are a nightmare for diners with special dietary requirements or health concerns. Let’s take a look at a regional chain called El Tapatio to see how they handle making Mexican food for different diets and lifestyles.

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First of all, who are they? El Tapatio restaurants are a chain of Mexican eateries in the Northwest of the United States. They currently operate over 20 locations in California, Oregon and Washington. While they are a growing, profitable chain now, this business came from humble origins. The founder and owner is a man named Efren Guitron. Originally, he came from the tiny town of Cuautla in Western Central Mexico. A town so small, it is rarely included in maps! This rural town in the state of Jalisco is located between Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. Guitron left Cuautla and moved to the United States in 1970 with dreams or creating a better life. He began working for one of his relatives who owned and operated a Mexican restaurant in Seattle, Washington. For the next ten years, Guitron worked hard and learned as much as he could about all aspects of the restaurant business. This taught him not only how to handle the behind-the-scenes operations, such as accounting and sourcing ingredients, but also about how to create a great, family-friendly atmosphere and how to present classic Mexican recipes for diners in the United States. In the fall of 1980, he opened his first restaurant in Milwaukie, Oregon, and called it El Tapatio. For five years, he labored all alone to keep the restaurant going. He was literally the only employee! He would greet the diners, seat them, take their order, cook their food, serve them, deal with the bill, then clean everything up all by himself. His hard work paid off. At the end of those five years, he had customers lining up outside his restaurant to get a table. He started hiring more staff then expanded to more branches. All through this growth process, every El Tapatio branch has managed to maintain Guitron’s vision and standard. This means, that no matter which El Tapatio restaurant you visit, you will find delicious, authentic Mexican food, prepared using quality ingredients and presented in a colorful, friendly atmosphere. Guitron says that he wants his customers to feel like they are eating at their grandma’s house when they visit one of his establishments. This consistency is one of the reasons that customers keep going back to El Tapatio and recommending it to their friends. Even today, nearly 30 years after the first restaurant opened, the El Tapatio brand continues to grow and open new branches.

El Tapatio: Mexican food
El Tapatio: Mexican food

Traditional Mexican, it’s what’s for dinner

 

When founding his first restaurant, Guitron decided he wanted to mostly feature traditional, authentic Mexican food with a homemade feel. He uses flavors and recipes from his region, and the state of Jalisco. The menu also features several of his own family’s recipes that have been passed down through the generations. You will find all of your classic Mexican favorites, like tacos, nachos, guacamole, burritos, enchiladas, and sizzling fajitas but with authentic regional flair. They have a few dishes that stray from tradition, Guitron’s own creations, and these make the menu even more interesting. Guitron is especially proud of his molcajete. This is a dish of your choice of meat, served with rice, beans, radishes, fresh roasted jalapenos, sautéed cactus and three different kinds of cheese served in a hot stone bowl, like a mortar.

 

A healthy alternative for authentic Mexican cuisine

 

Mexican food does not have the best reputation for being a healthy meal option. Between the liberal use of white flour, cheese, oil, and deep frying, it is no wonder those who are concerned about their health or their weight might say “no thank you” to traditional Mexican fare. However, El Tapatio has taken proactive steps to counter this stereotype and offer healthier variations of authentic recipes without sacrificing any flavor. Over the past few years they have revised their entire menu to incorporate healthier practices and recipes. They start by using the highest quality ingredients then preparing all of their meals fresh for their customers. Unlike many Mexican restaurants who use lard in most of their recipes, especially anything with beans, El Tapatio has completely eliminated the lard from their kitchens. Now all of their dishes are prepared using healthier alternatives, like vegetable oil or canola oil. They have also changed all of their salt from refined salt to sea salt. Even the salt shakers on their tables are now filled with the healthier (and tastier) sea salt!

El Tapatio: Mexican food
El Tapatio: Mexican food

Options for special diets: does El Tapatio make the grade?

 

Eliminating surprise lard from the menu instantly makes El Tapatio a better option for vegetarians and vegans, as well as anyone with health concerns that could be affected by the type of fat they eat. Traditionally, Mexico is a country that loves meat, so a lot of meat on the menu is typical, and should be expected at any restaurant claiming to serve authentic food. However, El Tapatio does have a decent number of meat-free options for vegetarian diners, including some popular favorites like huevos rancheros, veggie burritos and spinach enchiladas. The selection for vegan diners seems much smaller when glancing through the menu because nearly everything comes with cheese. However, hold the cheese, and suddenly there are plenty of choices for vegans or lactose intolerant diners. Most of the main dishes come with beans and rice, which are naturally gluten-free. Nearly everything on the menu comes served with flour tortillas, however, they do make corn tortillas and can make a substitution for diners with a gluten sensitivity. The range of the menu and the ease of eliminations and substitutions makes this a great choice for anyone looking to enjoy traditional Mexican food with special dietary requirements. These options, the friendly atmosphere, and the healthy cooking methods make this a fabulous choice for conscientious diners. To find out more, visit their website: www.eltapatiocuisine.com.

El Tapatio: celebrate with authentic Mexican food

No matter what the occasion, delicious food should be part of a celebration. And nothing says “fiesta” like delicious, authentic Mexican food! If you are lucky enough to live in California, Oregon or Washington, there is a fantastic option for your next special occasion: El Tapatio restaurants. Whether dining in, carrying-out or ordering catering, El Tapatio has options to fit any occasion and any budget.

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El Tapatio restaurants: Mexican fare with authentic flair

They treat you like family, because they are family-friendly. El Tapatio has a wonderful, heart-warming history. The founder and owner Efren Guitron grew up in Cuautla, in Mexico; a town so small, it is usually not even featured on maps of the region. It is located in the heart of the state of Jalisco, in between Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. From this simple, rural upbringing, Guitron learned the values of family and hard work. He moved to the United States in 1970, with a dream of creating a better life. He naturally sought out his relatives to help him get established. These relatives owned a Mexican restaurant in Seattle, Washington, and Guitron worked for them for ten years, learning all about the restaurant business and learning family recipes. In the fall of 1980, Guitron opened his very first restaurant and named it El Tapatio. He wanted to be absolutely certain to provide his customers with a high standard of food and a great atmosphere, so he chose to run the restaurant by himself. Literally, all by himself. He was the host, chef, server, and dishwasher all at the same time. He used authentic Mexican recipes, many of which were from his very own family and had been passed down through the generations. He made an effort to speak to his customers and make them feel welcome. His hard work paid off. After five years, El Tapatio was so popular, Guitron had lines of customers waiting outside his restaurant hoping for a table. He began expanding, first by including his own wife, then hiring more staff and opening new branches. Today, he is the proud owner of a small chain of over 20 restaurants in California, Oregon and Washington. Although the business has changed incredibly over the years, and still continues to grow, Guitron still works hard to ensure that every dish at every restaurant meets his high standards. The business is still family-owned and operated and Guitron promises that one of the most important things for him, is to make his diners feel well-fed, comfortable, and welcome; like they’re eating at their grandma’s house.

 

El Tapatio: authentic Mexican food1
El Tapatio: authentic Mexican food

Good food coming from good hearts

In addition to using family recipes, El Tapatio strives to make everything about their menu meet a high standard of quality and flavor. Guitron insists on using only the best ingredients and ensures that every dish at every restaurant is made fresh. A few years ago, the team at El Tapatio began an initiative to make their menu even better by looking at ways to make their food healthier. Their efforts led them to eliminating all of the lard from every item on their menu, even the refried beans, which are usually notorious for containing large amounts of lard. They now use only healthier, lighter oils, such as vegetable oils and canola oil for everything. They are more careful and particular about how they prepare their meat, to make it as healthy as possible without sacrificing any flavor. They also made the switch from processed, iodized salt, to a more natural sea salt for all of their kitchens, as well as all of the salt shakers on their tables. These changes mean that El Tapatio now serves food that is as good for your body as it is for your taste buds.

Dine in for the party atmosphere

Each El Tapatio branch is warmly and colorfully decorated. Since Guitron wants everyone to feel completely welcome when they come to El Tapatio, each branch has gone above and beyond to create a fun, relaxed atmosphere. The dining rooms are suitable for parties with guests of all ages. So whether you are hoping to celebrate your grandmother’s birthday, your baby’s first steps, or your own promotion at work, you will feel welcome and relaxed at El Tapatio. The giant menu selection ensures everyone will be able to find something delightful to eat. If you are in the mood to toast your celebration, El Tapatio also has a selection of beers, over 50 varieties of tequila, and cocktails. They boast that they make the “best house margaritas in town” and there is only 1 way to find out if they are right: head to the nearest El Tapatio restaurant and try one for yourself.

El Tapatio: authentic Mexican food
El Tapatio: authentic Mexican food


Relax, let them bring the party to you
If you have a special venue in mind for your special occasion, El Tapatio also offers catering services to bring delicious, authentic Mexican food to you, wherever you are. So whether you want to book a ballroom, conference room, or welcome your guests in your own backyard, they will be able to work with you and your budget to bring an amazing meal to the site. Their catering service includes several options for appetizers, side dishes and desserts. For main dishes, you can choose from the taco bar, the burrito boxes or the buffet service. The orders can be custom made for the size of your guest list and your budget. You can choose to pick up your catering order, or have the staff at El Tapatio deliver it to you. When you place your order, tell them how many diners you are expecting and they will include disposable plates, napkins and cutlery for everyone. Having them cater your event means once your order has been placed, you can relax with your guests and enjoy your event knowing the refreshments will be delicious and professionally prepared and served.

Great quality for a great price
No matter the occasion, choosing El Tapatio means you’ll have delicious food, quality service, and a friendly atmosphere. Let them help make your next event tasty and memorable! For more information or to find the nearest El Tapatio restaurant, visit their website, www.eltapatiocuisine.com.

El Tapatio in Portland: Authentic Mexican food to get you through your work day

Sometimes making it through an entire day at the office seems like it deserves a prize. Dealing with a stubborn boss, clueless co-workers and all the traffic during the commute can make an eight-hour day feel like it lasts a week. Well, luckily, if you live or work in the greater Portland area, there is a prize waiting for you: El Tapatio. This family-owned restaurant chain serves delicious, authentic Mexican food all day long. So give yourself a boost, give yourself something to look forward to all morning. Treat yourself to an amazing Mexican lunch and spend the rest of the day with a smile on your face.

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Built from the ground up: Not only does El Tapatio serve fantastic food, the brand also has a pretty incredible origin story. The man who founded El Tapatio is named Efren Guitron. He grew up in a sleepy little town in the middle of the state of Jalisco, Mexico. This town, named Cuautla, is so small, it almost never even appears on maps of the region! If you want to get an idea, it is nestled about halfway between Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. Guitron, like the hero of an old fairy tale, decided to leave home to make his fortune. He moved to the United States in 1970 in hopes of finding a bright future. He contacted relatives he had living in Seattle, Washington, and they hired him to work for them at their Mexican restaurant. He worked there for ten years, learning everything he could about owning and operating a restaurant and also being taught the family recipes. In the fall of 1980, he decided to use these family recipes, that had been passed down from one generation to another, to open his own restaurant. He opened it in Milwaukie, Oregon, and called it El Tapatio. He was dedicated and determined to make the venture a success. He ran the entire operation by himself for five whole years. He was the server, the cook, and the dishwasher as well as the owner and bookkeeper. He strove to always serve amazing food and to give his customers a great dining experience and atmosphere. All that hard work paid off. After five years, he had lines of customers waiting outside El Tapatio to get a table. He expanded, hired staff, began to open new locations, and today, he is the proud owner of 16 El Tapatio restaurants in the greater Portland area, as well as branches in California and Washington.

El Tapatio in Portland
El Tapatio in Portland

When you’re there, you’ll feel like family

Guitron made a commitment way back in 1980 when opened his first restaurant. He wanted his guests to feel completely relaxed and welcome, like they are eating at their grandma’s house. Even though the business has expanded, he maintains that same standard of customer service. To that end, every El Tapatio restaurant is well-maintained and has friendly, colorful decor. It will be a welcome splash of fun and color in the middle of your work day.

Dedication to authentic, quality Mexican recipes

Guitron believes great food starts with amazing recipes and quality ingredients. El Tapatio advertises boldly that it does not use canned ingredients. Each dish is prepared fresh when ordered. In addition to using high-quality ingredients, Guitron and his team decided it was time to alter their cooking methods to give their customers a healthier option. A few years ago they adapted their methods of preparing and cooking their meats to make them healthier. They completely eliminated lard from all of their recipes, opting for vegetable oil or canola oil instead. They also stocked their kitchens and their tables with natural sea salt instead of processed table salt. They made these changes gradually, experimenting with every recipe to make sure each dish would still taste as delicious and authentic as possible. This means choosing El Tapatio for lunch will give you a boost of energy, not a grease-induced food coma.

El Tapatio in Portland
El Tapatio in Portland

Extensive menu with options for everyone

El Tapatio’s menu contains Jalisco flavors in recognizable, traditional Mexican dishes. You’ll find all of your favorites, from guacamole, nachos, or quesadillas on the appetizer menu, to burritos, enchiladas, tostadas, and fajitas on the main dish menu. With dozens of options for different meats, fish or vegetarian dishes, you and all of your colleagues will definitely find something that piques your interest. Now that they no longer use lard, El Tapatio is a great option for vegetarians and with a few substitutions, it is also suitable for vegan and gluten-free diners. If you are having trouble deciding what to try, Guitron is especially proud of the molcajete. This dish comes with your choice of meat served in a hot stone mortar (or bowl) along with beans, radishes, fresh roasted jalapeños, sautéed cactus and three different types of cheese. And of course every table is greeted with chips and salsa and every main dish is served with rice and your choice of beans. The prices for a main dish start at only $8.99, making El Tapatio a bargain. Between the fresh ingredients, healthy cooking methods, amazing flavors, and reasonable prices, your body, taste buds and wallet will all go back to work satisfied after a lunch at El Tapatio.

Cater your next lunch meeting and make an impression

El Tapatio offers a full catering service that can be picked up or delivered to your location. If you want to ingratiate yourself to your boss and your colleagues, why not bring lunch to them for the next meeting? You can choose between a taco bar, the burrito boxes or a catered buffet. El Tapatio has dozens of options on their catering menu, including appetizers and desserts and can work with you and your budget to make sure you get a big bang for your buck. Tell them how many guests you are expecting and they will also include disposable plates, napkins and cutlery for everybody. Your next presentation will really stand out and make a big impression if your boss sees it while enjoying a delicious, fresh burrito! For more information, visit their website: www.eltapatiocuisine.com.