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Charrito's Bar & Grill: Village of Providence restaurant offers stout meat portions, good value (photos)
-- A sombrero and poncho have been placed on the portable, mustachioed sculpture outside this Village of Providence commercial space - effectively converting "Tony," as in Tony's Little Italy, the former occupant here, into a Mexican cowboy, or charrito, as in Charrito's Bar Grill, the tenant since mid-September.
Further exterior evidence of the change: The storefront is now avocado green. (The Memorial Parkway location of Charrito's, formerly known as Pepito's, closed Nov. 1 according to a post on the Charrito's Facebook page.)
If you live in the Providence area, you have a comfy new neighborhood Mexican spot on your hands, and, on the Thursday lunch hour we visited, the dishes featured stout portions of meat, fresh ingredients and good value. We didn't really encounter much vibrant seasoning or spicy thrills on anything we ordered, but the food definitely seemed healthier than typical Mexican fare. No post-meal food ninos or grease hangovers.
The complimentary chips and salsa our smiling and attentive server brought out to our table were solid. The salsa had a slight lift from the visible flakes of cilantro in it added bonus, our server brought out a ramekin of salsa for everyone in our dining party. Much double-dipping ensued.
The tortilla chips were sturdier than typical cantina style. Which was good because the Guacamole Dip (.79) we ordered was chunkier than "The Surreal Life"-era Vince Neil. Very fresh guac - although a little more lime juice or garlic would have brought out more flavor and plated in a fun way: Three scoops of guacamole artfully impaled with chips and bordered by a pile of pico de gallo.
Everyone in our four-person dining party ordered selection from the Charrito's menu Lunch Specials section.
I went the number six, Burrito Supreme (.99). Inside the soft, sizable tortilla, tons of not greasy-at-all, white-meat chicken chunks - you can choose beef instead of bird if you'd prefer and a thin layer of refried beans.
On the side: sour cream, lettuce and "marinated salad," which contained carrots, onions and bell pepper and green tomato slices (and provided some needed counterpoint to the burrito).
We also went with Trio Enchiladas (.99) aka lunch special 15. The ensemble breaks down like this: Chicken with verde sauce, beef with standard red enchilada sauce, cheese with a cheese-dip type sauce. Again, plenty of meat but somewhat one-note flavors, although the beef and red combo was most successful. As far as the side items went, the rice was too dry and the beans too soupy, which, on the up side, kind of evened out when you combined the two.
Also ordered Charrito's lunch special number nine, Rocket City Taquitos (.49). You have the choice of beef or chicken. We went with chicken, and I know since a pork product wasn't involved this wasn't truly a Mexican translation of pigs-in-a-blanket, but that's exactly what the taquitos looked like.
Normally, taquitos are tightly wrapped, crisp-fried tacos. These were thick (again, lots of lean meat and not much else inside) and cut into sections. The accompanying red and cheese side sauces were most effective when utilized together.
Fajitas, of course, not only make a visual and aromatic impact, but also actually produce an appealing sound as they arrive at your table. Charrito's lunch special 13, Fajitas 3 Amigos (.49), definitely had that sizzling thing going on. The dish's namesake threesome is steak, grilled chicken and shrimp. We asked if we could just get chicken and shrimp, and our server obliged.
Too often with fajitas at a Mexican restaurant, that aforementioned initial sensory jubilee turns to disappointment when you dig into the grilled ingredients and discover the meat is skimpy and peppers and onions are populous.
Not the case at Charrito's. Lots of tender chicken and shrimp, although the latter was served tails-on which is kind of a head-scratcher
Atmosphere is a strong suit at Charrito's. Particularly on the first floor, which benefits from: 20-foot-plus ceilings; large scale sepia photos of (presumably) actual charritos; a few nice-sized TVs; dark-wood L-shaped bar with 10 or so bar stools; and lots of natural light from large vertically-oriented windows. A yellow surfboard hangs over head. There's also a loft floor upstairs with requisite wax pepper decorations and wanted-poster reproductions, and, outside the first-floor, a nifty patio with about eight or so tables.
Since we visited at noon on a workday, it wasn't an ideal time to check out one of Charrito's Fresh Lime Squeezed Margaritas (.95, made with Jose Cuervo). But I bet everything here goes down better with one or two of them.
Charrito's Bar Grill
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