A little local gem

Not really stained glass--it's all paint.

You just can’t eat at the fancy places all the time–sometimes you just want lunch.  Looking for Mexican food, we tried El Jarro, (3563 Mt. Diablo, Lafayette) and were surprised as all get out at how good it was.

El Jarro is just a tiny storefront place in the middle of Lafayette, with three forlorn tables in front (which might have been less forlorn if it wasn’t 65 degrees in the middle of July.)  Go inside, and the dining room in front is pretty standard suburban Mexican.  Down the narrow passageway alongside the kitchen, though, you end up in the coolest little back room this side of Guadalajara.   The widows look like stained glass, but it’s all paint. The wall is painted with a trompe l’oeil image of a hacienda, and the view through its imaginary windows.

Even the skylights are painted, leading to the odd colors.

Chips and salsa arrive promptly.  The chips are warm, and the salsa is spicy.  This is starting to look really good.

The menu has the usual Mexican restaurant fare, but it all has a flair.  There is a section of tortas, or sandwiches, which I thought was unusual enough to pass up the fajitas I always have.  I tried a Torta Cancun,  which is grilled chicken breast, ham, cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato on a Mexican style roll.  It was excellent.

Not all Mexican food is tacos--this is a great sandwich (or Torta)

Gail had the chiliquiles, which are usually day-old tortillas torn into strips and cooked with cheese and a red or green sauce.  We have enjoyed these at our friends Barbara and Max Tudor at their home in Mexico City, so Gail wanted to try them here.

El Jarro serves their chiliquiles with what is euphemistically called “steak”, which is some unidentifiable cut of beef that Gail found to be flavorful but a tad gristly.  Still, she thoroughly enjoyed her lunch and ate it all.

This is just a little local restaurant, nothing fancy, but we really enjoyed the food, the ambiance and the service.  We plan on going back soon.

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