El Molcajete brings authentic, homemade Mexican cuisine to Rock Hill

Javier Abaez finishes making a chorizo tortas at El Molcajete on Mount Gallant Road. The chorizo sausage is handmade.
Javier Abaez finishes making a chorizo tortas at El Molcajete on Mount Gallant Road. The chorizo sausage is handmade.

Salvador Castro has brought his home cooking to Rock Hill.

The owner of the Tequila restaurant on Cherry Road recently opened El Molcajete on Mount Gallant Road, in the spot where The Little Cafe and The Yolk got their start.

El Molcajete offers homemade Mexican food based on the family recipes Castro grew up with in the agricultural state of Guerrero, Mexico.

“These are my grandma’s recipes,” Castro said. “They have been in the family for generations.”

Owner Salvador Castro and manager/chef Javier Abaez let The Herald preview their El Molcajete restaurant and menu full of family recipes from Guerrero, Mexico.

His favorite is a sandwich with chorizo – a homemade sausage with guajillo peppers – chicken and other meats.

The restaurant gets its name from the Spanish word for a stone tool similar to a mortar and pestle. The name is more than symbolic, as ground spices and peppers are integral to the recipes, giving them distinctive tastes that pleasantly linger.

Castro said his customers at Tequila have been asking about an authentic Mexican restaurant for several years. The growing Mexican population in the area also wants a taste of home, he said.

His Tequila customers and area Mexicans already know about El Molcajete through word of mouth. Castro and Javier Abaez, who operates the restaurant, also want adventuresome or curious customers to stop by.

“We want people to come in who don’t know what they want to order,” Abaez said. “We want people to try things they are scared to taste.

“If they taste it they will love it.”

El Molcajete’s menu looks fairly typical, with tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas and tortas, which are a type of sandwich. Under the headings are some traditional Mexican offerings such as lengua (beef tongue) and menuda (tripe soup).

But the taste can be anything but typical.

A recent customer asked for a chicken burrito and thought he got pulled pork by mistake, Abaez said. It was chicken, he said; the taste resulted from chipotle peppers.

Another group of customers arrived, Abaez said, not knowing what to order. Each ordered a taco, and they didn’t leave until each had sampled several.

Even the dip for chips has an unexpected taste. One of the salsas has peanuts.

Each day El Molcajete will have a special. Abaez said customers will be allowd to taste the special before ordering it.

Castro and Abaez have high expectations for El Molcajete. They want it to become the standard for authentic Mexican cooking, Castro said, much like The Front Porch in Richburg is the standard for authentic Southern food.

Want to go?

El Molcajete Restaurant, 1204 Mount Gallant Road, Rock Hill, is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.