An Erieite appetite: El Canelo

Quality: 3 out of 5

Price: Too expensive for a poor college student.

The fact that there was a thriving Taco Bell across the street should have been the first sign. I may be a picky eater, but Mexican food is Mexican food.

In the so called authentic restaurants spread across the country, the food is usually so Americanized that it is practically indistinguishable from restaurant to restaurant and cannot be compared to the inspiration of the dish. A taco is a taco is a taco, and it’s just as good at a five-star restaurant as it is cold out of my refrigerator the next morning.

I went with a few of my friends while we were on an outing, and for the three of us we only ordered one main dish and a side of jalapeno poppers. The Jalapeno poppers were served at a very hot temperature, but were not spicy at all.

A second look at the menu told us that you had to order things spicier on special request, and that everything there is served especially mild. I know that not everyone can handle spicy food, but I myself prefer a little bit of heat, so I was disappointed with that aspect of the meal. They did prepare their own nachos and salsa, which were very good and moderately spicy.

For the main course we ordered a dish called Las Paisas, which consisted of three chicken enchiladas and was served with lettuce and Spanish rice. They were filling but average – again, we had neglected to order them spicy so they lacked a little bit of the taste I usually like. They were relatively large and did feed all of us, but it was a meal that we could have probably made at home at a lesser cost.

The outside of El Canelo looks like a bar – it is covered in advertisements for beer and for the specials going on in the restaurant, like half-price margaritas or imported beer on certain days of the week.

The steps are steep and raised above the pavement about three feet, with a railing that would not be safe for younger children. While El Canelo might be a good place to go with a couple of friends on a Friday night, I do not recommend it for families.

The service, however, was very good, and the appetizers were also of high quality. That, added to a relatively extensive vegetarian option makes me think that El Canelo is probably a good, if average choice for students to go and hang out.