This ain’t no Taco Bell
By Jacob Mathias
El Jefe Tacos y Tequila opened just two days ago- and I’m pretty sure it’s already my favorite restaurant in town.
I entered El Jefe with high expectations. The new street-style Mexican restaurant is the third establishment by local restaurateurs Christian and Leah Czerwonka, who also own Father Fats Public House in downtown Stevens Point and Christian’s Bistro in Plover.
El Jefe had a tough reputation to follow. It more than exceeded.
The house margarita is blended well with a high quality tequila and a homemade sour. Many signature tequila drinks are available with dozens of tequila varieties and unique ingredients and liqueurs I haven’t seen anywhere else, making for a one-of-a-kind cocktail experience.
The menu is made up of sharables and single-serving tacos. The roasted pork nachos, a carry over from Father Fats, are delicious with a creamy, chili-spiced cheese sauce and a cilantro lime crema. The ceviche, made with marlin on the night I dined, is fresh and tangy with crispy yuca chips for scooping.
I sampled four of the seven available tacos for my dinner. The el pastor, made with marinated pork and grilled pineapple, was rich and spicy. The crispy fish taco, topped with a creamy cilantro-lime slaw, was perfect in its simplicity. The carnitas and chicken pibil tacos were equally delicious.
The tacos are served with the traditional side of pickled carrots, onions and peppers which are pleasing, sour contrast to the richness of the regular taco fillings.
The El Jefe Street Corn, an adaptation of a traditional Mexican street corn served as a dip, would make a great side, appetizer or snack. Its warm, mildly spicy cotija cheese sauce and grilled corn filling make it a comfort food in my opinion as well.
The food is served simply and without any fuss. There is something for everyone and not so many choices that any menu item is less than excellent.
The inside of El Jefe has high ceilings, is an open concept and full of energy. The industrial decor and exposed brick keep the atmosphere feeling informal. A large Day of the Dead mural along one wall makes it clear what kind of restaurant you’ve come to.
The prices are comparable to the Czerwonka’s other restaurants and while not cheap, they’re definitely a bargain for the quality of the food and experience.
El Jefe is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00 PM to 9 PM, Friday and Saturday from 4:00 PM to 10 PM and Sundays from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM. For more information, call 715-544-1744 or find them on Facebook.
El Jefe is located at 924 Clark Street.