Chelly’s Cafe

March 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm 5 comments

After writing about Paparico’s, and my excitement over discovering a Mexican restaurant I enjoyed in the Brookside/Waldo area, several readers questioned how I could prefer it over Chelly’s Cafe, which is essentially around the corner.

Chelly’s used to be in Grandview, but moved several years ago to its current location. Since I had not been to the Wornall location, and I appreciate any feedback to my posts, those comments spurred me on to try it.

They were right…to a point. Yes, it is worth going to, and yes, it’s better than most of the old-time Mexican restaurants on the Southwest Blvd. corridor that I tend to skewer on a regular basis. But, at first blush it did not change my opinion that Paparico is the best Mexican restaurant in the Brookside/Waldo section of town.

Walking into the restaurant at 12:30 on a Monday afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised to see that almost every table was taken. We were served chips and salsa upon sitting down, and happily noted that the salsa came in a mini-carafe to pour as needed. The mild salsa was a bit bland and tomatoey, but perked up nicely with the addition of the hot chile salsa that we requested.

I ordered a fajita burrito with pork. It was filled with meat, peppers and onions, and served with fluffy Mexican rice and whole pinto beans. Though the menu stated that it would be smothered with tomatillo sauce, this was definitely a ranchero sauce. When I asked about the switch, the server explained that had I ordered it with chicken, one of three options, it would have come with tomatillo sauce. However,  the pork and steak burritos are made with ranchero sauce because of the spices that the meats are marinated in first. Can’t argue with that, but it would have been nice if that had been clear, or if the server mentioned it when I told her I was debating between chicken and pork. At least she was happy to bring me some heated tomatillo sauce to spoon over it.

The pork was tender and pleasantly seasoned and, though as I’ve pointed out before, I’m not a fan of ranchero sauce (I prefer a chile based sauce to one made with tomato), it did work well with the dish. The tomatillo sauce added a bit of a punch though it was slightly oily. I love having whole beans instead of refried as a side– it’s so much healthier and I prefer the texture.

My husband ordered cheese enchiladas, which came smothered in the kind of rich chile sauce that typifies an “enchilada sauce”, as opposed to a ranchero sauce.

He also ordered a pork tamale with mole sauce, but when asked about it the server said it wasn’t really mole, though it was similar. I’m not sure it was different than the enchilada sauce, but that’s not a bad thing. It was a bit grainy, which confirmed it had indeed been made with chile powder.

Service was good, not exceptional. Our chip basket was not refilled, but that was probably for the best. As it was I had to pass much of the burrito across the table to my personal garbage disposal, who can’t abide letting food go to waste no matter how full he may be.

Were Paparico’s not in the same neighborhood, I would be happy to go back to Chelly’s, but the overall experience and fare didn’t quite measure up. Though my observations are admittedly based on one visit, I’d have to concur with my readers who gave the nod to Paparico’s.

Chelly's Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Entry filed under: restaurants. Tags: , , .

Matsuhisa Aspen Tabard Inn–Washington, DC

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jdl  |  March 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    i’m on your side with this – have enjoyed paparico’s more than chelly’s easily. i do think paparico’s can be hit or miss but the last time was a hit for sure. they STILL need to get that liquor license!

    Reply
    • 2. Mary Bloch  |  March 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      I don’t know what’s taking so long with the liquor license, but I do think it would help their business considerably!

      Reply
  • 3. foodsnob  |  March 23, 2011 at 9:30 am

    HA! You did it-how cool of you Mary!! Hey-we can’t always agree-chops to you for taking the challenge, guess I should sign up for your blog. Happy eats.

    Reply
    • 4. Mary Bloch  |  March 23, 2011 at 10:05 am

      Thanks for that, Jan! I love getting comments, always good to know what my readers are thinking and where they are eating.

      And yes, you should sign up for my blog!

      Mary

      Reply
      • 5. foodsnob  |  March 24, 2011 at 10:40 am

        Did it!

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