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El Rodeo (South Square Location)

Posted by MEZ 11 Feb 2010 10 Comments

Apologies for the lack of pictures but this one taken from El Rodeo’s website. I had a hard drive failure last week and lost my most recent images. Oops.


El Rodeo is a twothree-restaurant chain in Durham; their other restaurants are in Brightleaf Square and on North Duke Street. This one is located in what I can only assume used to be a national chain restaurant, as evidenced by the booths’ upholstery—an atrocious, sports-themed pattern. The rest of the large space is decorated with the sombreros that denote a Mexican American restaurant, salmon and sea green walls, and interesting carved wood art pieces.

Their menu is huge and it’s worth noting that the lunch portions of their entrees are plenty large and include rice and beans, though still come in a few bucks cheaper than dinner. Chips and salsa roja come with every meal. The salsa had a good kick, a welcome change from most salsa rojas I’ve tasted (¡viva la pico de gallo!). I would wager that the chips are not made in-house as they were not especially fresh or warm, but really, they were fine. Fresh is nice but not necessary.

I decided to have an agua de Jamaica for my beverage, which is essentially cold hibiscus tea. The floral flavor seemed too strong at first sip, but by the time I’d drank half of it, it was too weak and more closely resembled Crystal Light, that thin punch you get at church potlucks. Anybody tried their horchata?

I had the camarones de chipotle for my entrée and I was very happy with it. First of all, any place that throws half an avocado on my plate wins bonus points automatically. The rice was the tastiest spanish rice I’ve had out in a while, and the chipotle sauce was perfect with the shrimp. Sure, it was greasy but that just made it extra satisfying for the mood I was in. There was a lot of char and spice in the sauce. The three flour tortillas were served warm and again, I doubt were made in-house but still did the job just fine.

All in all, El Rodeo offered decent Mexican American food at a great price.

El Rodeo

3404 Westgate Drive
South Square, Durham
Lunch: $4.75-$7.00
Dinner: $6.50-$12.25

Reviewed 1.28.10.


  • Stephen said:

    Don’t they have a third location at North Duke Mall Crossing? I believe it’s in the former Ole NC BBQ location.


    MEZ replies on February 11th, 2010 at 4:12 pm:

    They do indeed, which I didn’t realize earlier. It’s at 3600 North Duke Street, Suite 29.


  • Tooth said:

    This building was erected a few years ago and, initially, was home to a place that called itself a “sports theater”. It was a weird place that tried to be a steak house and a sportsbar at the same time. It closed pretty quickly and then El Rodeo abandoned their long time home, in the space where Green Leaf used to be, to become the current tenant.


    MEZ replies on February 11th, 2010 at 4:05 pm:

    Thanks for the info. So it didn’t replace a national chain, but a misguided restaurant concept.


    Tooth replies on February 11th, 2010 at 4:27 pm:

    My Google fist just informed me that the structure was built for the “The Original Steak House & Sports Theater” which seems to be a regional chain.



  • ACW said:

    Okay, I’m confused. I thought El Rodeo on this side of town was the place behind Burger King, beside Toys R Us, on Westgate. Google StreetView is proving unhelpful today, and the restaurant I’m thinking about isn’t showing up in my search.
    At any rate… I’m partial to the restaurant on Westgate… whatever it’s called!… which has excellent customer service, generous portions, and excellent, hot food.


    judas_escargot replies on February 11th, 2010 at 4:06 pm:

    That’s the one, right by the old Circuit City. Inside of it looks like it used to be a Champps or something like that. Good portion sizes here, tacos are okay.


    MEZ replies on February 11th, 2010 at 4:07 pm:

    ACW, it looks like you are right–at least, I think that I see three addresses on their website and none of them are the address I listed, which I took from Google. This was the one on Westgate, and I’ll make that change to the entry now.


  • aburtch said:

    El Rodeo rocks. We go there frequently. I love how they didn’t remove any of the TV’s from the sports bar that was there previously. Once during a World Series game every TV in the place was on Mexican league soccer and one small TV in the corner had the series on. Even more funny, no one noticed.


  • apathy said:

    I end up at the El Rodeo in raleigh occasionally. But I noticed a place called El Rodeo opened in my hometown in MN and the menu was the exact same. Is this just a local chain, or is it more national?

    I think its ok for what it is, but the super thin cheese sauce is kind of disconcerting. Especially when thats whats in the quesidilla, it just ends up soupy.

    But my feelings about their food change if I have a couple of margaritas.


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