Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ernesto's Has Opened; Rte 40 Gets Mexican From Dallas To Go With New Korean Bakery Shilla

Ernesto's Fine Mexican in Ellicott City
Ernesto's Fine Mexican has opened in the Enchanted Forest shopping center on Rte 40 -- bringing a Dallas chain to Ellicott City.

I didn't actually taste the food when I stopped for a menu.  I had just eaten two tacos in Catonsville.  But the place looked nice.  The menu looks like basic Tex-Mex with tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and some larger entries.  They have special lunch dishes.

Kathy ate at Ernesto's on the third night they were open.  She said the meal wasn't perfect, but it showed signs of promise.
Most of it was well cooked but under seasoned. The queso blanco on my enchilada and the rice in the side were excellent. I had a long talk with Myra, a manager here from Texas to open the new place. She wants to sample other Mexican food in the area but so far has only been to Don Pablo's. I wanted to weep! I sent her to R&R. Hopefully that will convince her we want, need, love real Mexican!
I'm with Kathy.  I love Mexican food, but I pass by many Mexican restaurants around here because I'm afraid that I'll get piles of cheese with uninspired ingredients.  In contrast, I stop at taquerias aimed at immigrant customers because the food is often fresh and full of flavor.

Baked goods at Shilla
In the same way, we're lucky to be getting a variety of shops aimed at Korean customers on Rte 40.  The Shilla Bakery has opened -- although they're still waiting to offer sandwiches.  You can buy all kinds of cakes, cookies and sweets, along with some savory baked goods like Shilla's take on pizza.

Again, I have only visited with a full stomach.  Mrs. HowChow and I split a green bean donut, which was terrific.  Sweet, dense filling inside a fried pastry.  If you catch a warm night, we highly recommend bing soo, a Korean dessert that we had at the similar Bon Appetit Bakery farther west on Rte 40.

What do people suggest at Shilla and Ernesto's?  What have you had?  What would have again?  What would you order next time? 

Both Shilla and Bon Appetit are cool places to hang out.  They're basically coffee shops with awesome sweets.  They're often packed with families and kids.  

Ernesto's Fine Mexican Food
10040 Baltimore National Pike (Rte 40)
Ellicott City, MD

NEAR:  Ernesto's is in the Enchanted Forest shopping center.  It is on the north side of Rte 40 west of Rte 29.  Ernesto's is next to Jilly's.

Shilla Bakery
9339 Baltimore National Pike (Rte 40)
Ellicott City, MD

NEAR: Shilla is on the south side of Rte 40 west of Rte 29.  It is in the same shopping center as Jason's Wine & Spirits.  Don't listen to Google.  Shilla sells some items in the Lotte grocery at Rte 29 and Rte 40, and Google lists that as Shilla's Ellicott City location.


Jack said...

I haven't had the opportunity to go yet (probably this weekend). One of my friends who did concurred with the comments Kathy made - shows promise but not spicy enough (maybe they softened spices for east coast). My friend did talk to owner Ernesto Puga who came from Texas to help start up location. He indicated that they were opening so far away from Dallas for his nephew who will run the EC location.

Rich said...

I ate there, and I agree that I would have liked things a little spicier...but if you ask, they'll bring over some homemade hot sauce to liven things up. The ingredients seemed very fresh, the service was great, and it's very kid friendly!

dzoey said...

Tried it tonight with the kids. Had the queso and the cheese enchillas topped with fajita beef (forget what it was called). It was ok, hard to go wrong with spiced beef & cheese.

Kids thought the quesadilla and chicken tacos were bland. Salsa was dull.

It makes sense to see Don Pablos / South of the Border as their competition and not the real (and better) Mexican places around the area

Not planning on returning - there are better options in the area.

anthonydpaul said...

Aside from takeout dives like R&R/Lily's, or fancier places like Azul/Xitomate, I must be missing out on the better options in the area because I found this place to be far better than the other EC budget mexican joints. I agree it needed heat, but the chile verde sauce fixed that, and it tasted great.

I ordered the relleno with the brisket and it was easily on the short list of best rellenos I've had in Maryland. R&R still blows it away with that ranchero sauce, but here I can sit down with a pack of friends and a pitcher.

LintMan said...

I took my family to try Ernesto's this weekend and were quite pleased. The waitstaff was friendly and quite attentive. The tortilla chips were served warm and plentiful. The guacamole appetizer was good and fresh but wasn't as flavorful as the guac at Xitomate, which is my favorite.

Everyone enjoyed their meals - especially my son who ordered the fish tacos. While I wouldn't mind if they upped the spiciness of their dishes and salsa a bit, no one found it bland.

I also thought the prices were quite decent, somewhat better than nearby Pachanga, which is our typical family go-to for Mexican. And speaking of Pachanga, the parking situation there has gotten bad - we were unable to get parking spots the last two times we tried to eat there and had to go elsewhere. The parking at Ernesto's should be much better.

Overall, I think Ernesto's is a great addition to the area and we'll definitely be back.

dzoey said...

@anthonydpaul - The non-chain, non-dive Mexican places I liked better are El Hidalgo, El Azteca (though it's been uneven lately), and Zipata's.

I'm glad you enjoyed your meal at Ernesto's. If I return, I'll try the relleno with brisket, it sounds goods.

Steve Fine said...

I too, had the Chile Relleno with brisket and it was first rate. So was the service. The chips and salsa were not special, but the green salsa brings the heat, if that's what you like. The Spanish rice was the best I have had in Maryland. The flan was excellent. The prices were very reasonable.

Treetop Tom said...

We went to Ernestos last week and found it very uneven - The Good: service, rice & beans, tacos carne asada, fajita nachos w/chicken. The Mediocre: chips & salsa (very bland), guacamole. The Bad: enchiladas suizas (dry as a bone), coffee (lukewarm), heavy hand with the cilantro on several of the dishes. Don't see this as much of an alternative to Mi Casa or El Hidalgo.

Anonymous said...

Went to Ernesto's last weekend. Ugh. Standard Don Pablo-type food. Never going back.

Anonymous said...

We ate at Ernesto's on November 19th. It was quite bad. The service was spotty (like the silverware) and the food was awful. I had the camarones al mojo de ajo which consisted of six overcooked and tasteless medium shrimp, raw carrot sticks, an anemic lettuce and avocado salad, and terrible rice. I woke up later in the evening with a terrible stomach ache as well. Never again. We'll stick with Azul 17, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Texas and this is the best Tex-Mex style Mexican food I've had since moving to Howard County. The enchiladas suizas are solid, and the spicy salsa they give w/ chips are great. I wish they would just not give the bland stuff- but they're trying to make most people happy I guess. The tortilla soup was flavorful and tasty. The fajitas are pretty good- chicken better than the beef, and the tortillas were decent, not from a package like most Mexican places around here. The place is also very nice inside and well decorated. Tere's has better tacos for sure, but as a family sit down meal, this is our go to place in Ellicott City. Prior to Ernesto's we had decided Zapata's was the best sit down Mexican.

Anonymous said...

Went for lunch today and had Chili releno.. Quite good with the pepper was cooked perfectly. If you know anything about real mexican this is the dish to test..
Chips were good but salsa needed a bit more heat. Service was quite good. All in all a very good experience. Will repeat for sure.