Sometimes when the Clover Community Theatre board members get together for monthly meetings, the location is simply "the Mexican restaurant in Clover." We all know where it is and come hungry for dinner.
On a corner just north of the downtown on U.S. 321 is El Mexicano, with plenty of parking and lots of seating. The festive mustard and avocado walls mixed with dark wood beams and high ceilings -- even a fireplace near the entrance -- makes it inviting. Yet the high ceilings and large building keep it spacious.
We didn't have to wait during this weekday dinner hour and were quickly seated by a friendly hostess. Our server was quick to deliver chips and salsa before taking our orders.
While I'm generally not a fan of hot foods, I really like their hot salsa. It's packed with flavor, and of course, a bit of heat.
Despite being busy for dinner, our waiter was attentive to our needs, and we could easily hear each other across the table to hold our theater meeting.
The large selection of reasonably priced dishes makes this casual atmosphere perfect for family, entertaining or just about anything.
I went on a recommendation to try the Pollo con Crema, grilled chicken strips topped with creamy cheese sauce served with rice, beans and tortillas for $7.75. The portions are large, and that cheese was a wonderful warm, creamy texture. I didn't even bother with the tortillas, because the flavor of the chicken and cheese with rice and beans was enough for me.
I'd definitely go for this again. But the Mojarra Frita (fried tilapia) for $8.50, chimichanga or one of the combos for $6.25, Chuletas El Mexican (three pork chops topped with red tomatillo sauce with rice and beans) for $7.95, or even chicken tacos -- three for $4 -- sound enticing, too.
There are appetizers, soups, salads, lunch-only offerings (most for $4.50-$4.95), vegetarian dishes, children's plates and desserts, too, along with descriptions of Mexican food.
The menu says El Mexicano is famous for its daiquiris and margaritas, too, that are available in banana, strawberry, peach, mango, pina and orange.
There's take out, and if you're on the road, there are four other El Mexicano locations -- two in Duncan and two in Boiling Springs -- to check out.
The Mexican restaurant in Clover is easy on the budget, large on flavor and packed with smart service and reasons for returning again and again.
Catherine Muccigrosso, Lake Wylie Pilot editor
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Phone: 803) 222-1838
Ambiance: Casual, festive Mexican restaurant