Chestnut Hill is home to some of the best local eateries. El Poquito is a new Mexican cantina that has found its home right on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. The restaurant is named after iconic cafe racer motorcycles that were raced up the coast of Mexico and into Baja California. They are influenced by coastal Mexican eats, bringing the “fresh is best” attitude and cook up made-to-order food. To keep their ingredients fresh they aim to buy local. Chestnut Hill Roasters designed an original Mexican coffee blend just for El Poquito. Their menu features breads from Baker Street, an award-winning bakery that is only a few blocks down.
El Poquito presents a rustic yet festive atmosphere, which is woven completely in the style from the raw light bulb fixtures to stainless steel taco holders. They serve small portions with clean flavor, paying special attention to presentation. To go along with their fresh ingredients, El Poquito brings fresh ideas to traditional Mexican cuisine. On my visit, I tried two of their four salsa options. The habanero-cashew was a great combination of nuttiness and spiciness. Their roast onion salsa was what I would call a gourmet French onion dip, which balanced out the heat of the habanero-cashew salsa nicely.
The kitchen is a little stingy with the portions. The serving sizes felt like ‘samplers’ but the price did not reflect that. We had plenty of chips left over, suggesting that the chip to salsa ratio could be improved.
For the main plate I chose the Enchiladas de Pollo, which was served on a hot skillet smothered in their flavorsome guajillo chile sauce. My partner decided on the Tacos de Baja, which were fresh and successfully simple.
The Margaritas had a strong kick, with a generous amount of tequila paired with all fresh fruits and juices.
A disappointing discovery was that a side of beans and rice were not a given. This à la carte style clashed with my preconceived notions of a cantina. Charging four dollars for a side order of rice and beans led me to share with my dining partner. I expected there to be some special preparation or seasoning to make these beans worth the cash. No magic beans here.
As we deal with this dreadful winter and dream of warmer weather, keep this place in mind. With spring around the corner (a big corner), El Poquito will be a great spot to grab a beer or a margarita. They have a picturesque patio with colorful stringed lights hanging above.
Going off atmosphere and originality alone, I would love to spend another evening there. It’s on the expensive side, so I will wait till warmer weather to truly enjoy the vacation vibes this place is capable of. Come spring you can find me on the patio, margarita in hand.