The Rise of El Chaparro

May 16, 2011 at 12:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I should probably know the answer to this, but when did El Chaparro open a third location on North 10th Street in the North Bottoms in the former George’s Red Pepper Grill location? That’s in addition to the original location at 13th and F, and the second location near North 48th and Leighton.

Whenever it happened, Mr. T and I had lunch there on Saturday. It was a spur-of-the-moment deal so we didn’t have a good camera to snap any photos. That’s unfortunate because the meal was quite picturesque. Mr. T ordered a

simple chicken burrito

chicken chimichanga. It was nothing fancy, but the dish gets bonus points for being topped with a glob of real guacamole—that is the stuff made with avocados, not that green sour cream posing as guac that you find at some restaurants.

I ordered the cinco tacos. Being the indecisive sort I asked for one of each kind of available meat: hamburger, chorizo, chicken, barbacoa, and lengua. I went into the meal planning to eat a light lunch of two or three of the tacos, saving the rest for later. I ate all five. They were fantastic, and at six bucks you aren’t going to find a better deal very often.

El Chaparro isn’t the sort of place you go for fancy environs or five-star service. All I ask from these simple restaurants is that service be adequate and friendly. It was, as it always has been on my trips to El Chaparro’s other locations. As for the atmosphere ... well, you read the part about it being in the old George’s building, right? That building is lucky to still be standing. Still, the restaurant is clean and simple with several clues that the restaurant is an unapologetically low-key affair. If the packaging bothers you, you’re probably better off sticking with the Morales restaurants (Las Margaritas, El Toro, et alia). But to my tastebuds El Chaparro’s food is better, and I value food over flair.

It hadn’t dawned on me until I started writing this that El Chaparro is slowly becoming less of an also-ran in Lincoln’s competitive field of Mexican restaurants. When they had a lone location at 13th and F they were pretty easy to forget about. But three locations? Surely that’s worth paying attention to. I doubt we’re looking at a DeLeon’s-style explosion any time soon, if ever. El Chaparro doesn’t have a mainstream sort of vibe to it. But if you like Mexican food and you’re willing to get off the beaten path, you’re running out of excuses not to stop by El Chaparro.

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Mr. T May 16, 2011 at 2:27pm

Agreed. That was some good stuff. I had a chicken chimichanga dipped in some red sauce. I am not normally a big guacamole type of guy, but that guac was really good with a nice kick to it.

In my mind, the El Chaparro family of restaurants is better than the Morales restaurants. They are both good, but EC has the edge.

Moses May 16, 2011 at 4:16pm

Since the North 10th street location changed over.  I agree with both of you.  The 48th Street (Former KFC) El Chapparo is on my regular lunch rotation.

foxspit May 17, 2011 at 7:19pm

This is great news! I worry about the North 48th location, since it doesn’t seem to be busy. But this must be a good sign for them.

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