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El Trocadero Steakhouse

Serving up mesquite-grilled meats and seafood, and savory Sonoran right in Old Town Newhall

Posted: August 21, 2009 12:02 p.m.
Updated: August 21, 2009 11:59 a.m.

Flank steak, another specialty of El Trocadero, is just $17.25 and comes with soup or salad, refried or whole beans, tortillas and a choice of rice or baked potato.

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El Trocadero Steakhouse, set smack dab in the heart of Old Town Newhall, has been serving up surprises for more than 11 years.
The restaurant may appear to be just one more Mexican joint from the outside, but a quick look at the menu reveals an extensive offering of mesquite-grilled meats and seafood, as well as Sonoran dishes.

"We try to do something different, to bring different regional specialties to our customers," said owner/chef Raoul Bojorquez. "You can eat from all different parts of Mexico here."

Bojorquez grew up in the kitchen of his family's restaurant in Nogales, Mexico and is the heart of El Trocadero, with help from wife Dora and daughter Ivana.

The 3,500 square foot space is homey and festive, with lots of light and warm woods mingled with shades of peach and gold on the walls. A small front patio allows guests to people watch, while the back patio can entertain up to 40 people in a more private space.
Guests can also linger at the well-stocked bar, where happy hour specials include $4 margaritas, $3 Tecate beers, and half off all appetizers from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. For the non-drinker, Sonoran tea, a blend of iced tea, hand-squeezed lemonade and cranberry juice, offers a refreshing alternative.

At lunch, a $7.95 menu from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. features a taco and enchilada plate, chicken or beef burrito, flautas, or chile-relleno plate with rice or beans, or chicken or beef torta and French fries or a grilled chicken or mahi mahi salad. All lunch specials include a fountain drink or iced tea.

Whatever time of day or night, there's always a Bojorquez in the house to make sure their customers are being taken care of.
"I like to see people's faces when they're eating our food. They say, ‘It's so good.' That makes me happy," Bojorquez said. "We treat our customers like family and we add specials every week to make things interesting."

Current specials at El Trocadero include chipotle-sauced baby back ribs at $14.95 with your choice of soup or salad and sides. Like everything at El Trocadero, the sauce is made from scratch, starting with peppers grilled over the open mesquite flame.

"Nothing comes from a can here, except the ketchup," said Ivana Bojorquez. "The enchilada sauce, the chili verde, everything is fresh. My dad also makes a special hot, spicy salsa from Anaheim chilies that is just incredible. Our customers love it."
(Now that you're in the know, you might ask for a side with your meal).

Always on the menu are grilled lamb chops, served with a delectable garlic sauce. The chops feature a hint of smoky flavor within their tender depths and could hold their own against those served at any fine dining restaurant.

The generous portion is just $20.95, and comes with soup or salad, refried or whole beans, tortillas, and a choice of rice or baked potato. Pass up the baked potato for the delicately delicious yellow rice, studded with carrots, celery and bits of cilantro. The clean flavor makes for a nice contrast to the richness of the meat.

A simple skirt steak ($17.25) becomes a masterpiece when given the El Trocadero treatment - succulent and tender without a lot of fat.

"In Sonora we specialize in meat. You don't have to use a lot of spice for flavor, we like to let the taste of the meat shine through, which is very tasty when grilled over mesquite," Bojorquez said. "All the fat drips down in the grill, so it's healthier."

Vegetarian options don't skimp on flavor, either. A fresh Anaheim chile is the base of El Trocadero's relleno. The spunky chile envelopes a melted core of queso fresco and retains a satisfying texture - light years away its bland canned counterpart served at many Mexican chains - underneath a blanket of zesty, chunky tomato sauce.

The cheese enchilada has a dark, complex, almost mole-like sauce that blends well with its queso fresco interior and cool shredded lettuce topping. You can pair your combination ($9.25 for three enchiladas/$9.95 for one chile relleno or $11.95 for two) with moist, flavorful whole beans or equally delicious, but slightly more fattening, refried beans. All are served with fluffy, red-tinged rice.

"Our food is different than most Mexican restaurants, it's not heavy or loaded down with cheese. Everything is distinct and flavorful," said Ivana Bojorquez. "It's more traditional, like the food you would find in Mexico, and it's all homemade."

Can't find what you're looking for? Don't be afraid to ask.

"Since we make everything to order, we don't mind adding or omitting something," she said. "Sometimes people want breakfast for dinner. Since we have everything in the kitchen, why not?"

Speaking of, Sundays mean breakfast at El Trocadero, from 9 a.m. to noon. They make their chorizo in-house and highly recommend the huevos con chorizo ($8.25), as well as the chilaquiles con heuvo with red or green sauce ($8.25) and the huevos con machaca (shredded beef with tomatoes, onions, and green peppers, $9.85).

In just two weeks, the long-awaited renovation project in Old Town Newhall is anticipated for completion. There are brand new stone and wood walkways on San Fernando Road, which Ivana Bojorquez expects will lead new customers and those who haven't visited in a while to El Trocadero.

"We hope people get away from the mall and come back to this part of town," she said.

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