Yes, We Have Guacamole

But try the puff pastry too at El Chamol

Shrimp with corn and mushrooms is served over a grilled cactus paddle ($11.95) with salsa made from roasted tomatillos and tomatoes — a stellar, unusual dish. It's listed under appetizers but easily serves two or as a main course. The nopale has an odd texture, just slightly slippery, like okra, fleshy and tart — it works beautifully with the clean salty brine of shrimp and smoky essences imparted from grilling and roasting. Another huge appetizer, roasted poblano stuffed with potato, goat cheese, and lobster ($13.95) didn't come off as well — too much potato, for one thing. Valdez uses a lot of lobster on this menu, and I think it's a mistake — there's no way the shellfish could be cooked to order, and it loses flavor and texture. Anyway, it's wasted loaded into ravioli with huitlacoche, a powdery corn smut, or stuffed into a quesadilla ($14.95) among a bunch of competing flavors.

This nice chef cares enough to visit every table at his suburban Lake Worth restaurant at least once per night (I watched him personally counsel one couple at length, a pregnant wife with her picky, picky husband). If you're not into Frenchican fare, he's got a solid lineup of Tex-Mex or Mex-Mex enchiladas and fajitas and burritos. The beef fajitas ($9.95), emitting more steam than a Cancun honeymoon suite, were terrific, and the tortillas came warm in a basket covered with a napkin — the real thing, as good as any I've had in Mexico. Spoon a little pico de gallo and sour cream, roll your chunks of meat up with a few strips of grilled pepper and onion, and you are one happy glutton. Long simmered, redolent beans and yellow rice are served in tiny cast iron pots with wooden spoons. And if the marinated beef in an asada grill ($16.95) was a little tough, the pastry enfolding a creamy chicken and cheese pie (a special, $22.50) was just as tender.

Joe Rocco

Location Info


El Chamol

6300 Lantana Road
Lake Worth, FL 33463

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Lake Worth


El Chamol, 6300-25 Lantana Rd., Lake Worth. Open Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Monday in season); 12:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday; 12:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Call 561-868-4747. Wheelchair accessible.

Any of these dishes are very easy to swallow with margaritas, of course (there's always a daily special, such as frozen mango), or shots of tequila from a menu expansive enough to soothe any anxiety one might feel about a lobster quesadilla seasoned with corn smut ($14.95). Margaritas are made with the traditional lime and triple sec, or less traditionally with pineapple, agave, blue curaçao, or even grape juice, but they're served in handsome blown-glass stemware, and at around $4 each, you can afford to drink your weight in them. As for tequila, there's Milagro, Herradura, El Jimador, Casa Noble, reposados, anejos, and blancos — enough of the hard stuff to keep you busy along with Mexican and American beers including Modelo and Tecate.

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