Mi Pueb vs El Rodeo

Katy Swift, Editor-in-Chief

Saying you are going to get Mexican food on this campus typically means one thing. You are going to Mi Pueblito, or more commonly known as Mi Pueb. It’s one of the top choices to visit on someone’s 21 birthday, RAs love bonding with their residents at this restaurant over some chips and queso and there always seems to be a group going there after a choir concert. However, after three and a half years of frequenting Mi Pueb, I have had enough.

The need for something new spurred a trip to El Rodeo. Pulling up to the restaurant, I didn’t expect much. The stereotypical use of red, white and green as their colors along with the slightly rundown appearance of the building wasn’t helpful either. If anything, there was a hint of regret for agreeing to try this place growing in my mind.

However, I’m not one to run off based solely on the outer appearance of a restaurant. The real test begins after getting through the front doors. Luckily for me, the inside was the opposite of what I’d just seen. I suppose this instance is why the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” is necessary. For those of you that haven’t taken a trip out to El Rodeo, the interior is similar to Mi Pueb’s, but the booths are actually comfortable to sit in and it doesn’t feel like a cave from a lack of decent lighting.

By now you are probably wondering, “what about the food?” While I’d love to continue discussing the differing choices in décor, I must admit, what truly determines the quality of a restaurant is the food. Like most sit-down Mexican restaurants, there was complimentary chips and salsa from the moment I took my seat. I’m sure most of you can understand the difficult decision of whether or not to partake in this free food since it makes eating a whole meal impossible. However, for the sake of ensuring I could fairly compare El Rodeo to Mi Pueb, I took one for the team by trying them.

I wish I could say that one was clearly on a higher level than the other, but that’s not the case. If anything, El Rodeo and Mi Pueb could switch their chips and salsa for a day and no one would notice. That doesn’t mean that it was bad, but neither restaurant has anything to brag about when it comes to this complimentary treat.

When it comes to the main course, I must say the winner was obvious. With a quick glance at each menu, the choices seem similar. To be honest, it sometimes feels like Mexican restaurants share all the same options and just have different menu designers. However, El Rodeo has two things going in its favor. I was able to find a meal I haven’t had at every other restaurant, and the flavor in their entrees is phenomenal.

Before going to El Rodeo, I had only heard of Mexican chilaquiles from friends. They described it as cheesy chicken nachos but different, which isn’t helpful at all. So, when I saw this option on El Rodeo’s menu, I knew I had to try it. Their description was accurate, but it left out most of the details. Mexican chilaquiles is more than just nachos. It is actually fried tortilla chips topped with chicken or beef, combined with a ranchero sauce, covered in melted cheese and paired with rice and beans. After having these chilaquiles one time, I have found my new favorite Mexican dish. If I had to come up with a complaint, the only thing I can think of is that I wish there had been even more chicken, or that I had saved some of the meal to have as leftovers.

I will always hold a special place in my heart for Mi Pueb since it filled my taco cravings for these past few years, but nostalgia and proximity to campus is not enough to convince me that I need to go back. El Rodeo is worth the ten-minute drive and more to have an overall better experience. I know I plan on going back to El Rodeo before graduation hits and I have to find another restaurant to take its place.