Fresh, housemade margaritas, not those made from a bottled mix and stale limes, cleanse palates during generously spiced meals at El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant, where owner Ismael claims they are not shy about adding some kick to each dish. But rather than overload entrees with a slew of spices, like other restaurants may be wont to do, Ismael prefers to keep it simple, refining each dish with focused flavor from authentic ingredients.
The carne asada is made with new york strip steak, rather than less-substantial skirt or flank steak, and spicy chili verde smothers lean pork in green tomatillo sauce. A house special, the carnitas throw down succulent pork that gets simmered over low heat for four hours, allowing it to steep in a top-secret blend of spices that Ismael guards more effectively than a magician guards his favorite pet shop. As diners dig in, a row of hand-painted murals stand watch, featuring images from Mexico, such as a mariachi band and burros dancing around sombreros.