Photo by Emilie Boenig
Tacos allure students, families and local workforce
El Charrito Mexican Restaurant started as a dream almost 17 years ago, when owners Jeanette and Jose Rodriguez swapped tacos for cash through a mobile food trailer window. A year passed before they could move operations to the quaint peach-colored building in downtown Georgetown on Austin Avenue.
Since then, Rodriguez said she and her husband have expanded El Charrito into a small empire of Mexican fare delivery—whether to tables at the restaurant, through the side pickup order window, or from the beds of trucks packed with tacos and dispatched to nearby construction sites.
“There wasn’t much at the time when we started here, so we decided to open in Georgetown,” Jeanette said. “We have customers from way back who still come in.”
She said Mexican food made from scratch draws consistent, daily crowds.
“It’s a mix of everybody. When there are court dates, we get people who come in from the court like if they have jury duty or something,” she said. “Also, we get a lot of students from the college here, and high school students who come in for breakfast tacos.”
Mornings are the prime time for taco sales through the walk-up window, but at nearly any time of day, diners occupy the dozen or so yellow booths and wooden tables inside the restaurant.
Waitress Juanny Gonzalez said many regular customers choose El Charrito for the breakfast tacos, fajitas and daily lunch specials.
“The people who come in here are very nice and polite, and when they leave here, they are happy and comfortable and full,” Gonzalez said.
Rodriguez said her husband, who does much of the cooking, built the El Charrito menu with authentic Mexican flavors and spices. They met while working together at a Mexican restaurant in Austin and started raising a family in Georgetown around the same time El Charrito opened.
“We learned everything from the bottom, like how to manage, the ordering and merchandise, and working with the employees and the hiring. It’s a 24-7 job, because if somebody doesn’t show up, you have to get in their place,” she said.
Members of Rodriguez’s family help around the restaurant cooking, serving and working the cash register. Her sister runs the El Charrito in Florence, which opened in 2004. The faces of Rodriguez’s sons smile at diners from a large photo on the restaurant wall and from the to-go menu cover.
With her family anchored in Georgetown, Rodriguez said El Charrito could expand soon. She plans to maintain the eatery but is considering revisiting where the restaurant dream began—selling tacos from a food trailer.
Favorites and specials
Waitress Juanny Gonzalez said quesadillas and beef fajitas are some of the most popular menu items, in addition to the daily specials. Lunch specials are $4.99 and served with rice, beans, pico de gallo and guacamole.
- Monday: Beef Ranchera plate or regular beef enchiladas
- Tuesday: Two carne guisada tacos or chicken fajita plate
- Wednesday: Enchiladas Suizas plate or two fajita tacos or bean tostadas
- Thursday: Enchiladas Texanas plate or two chicken fajita tacos
- Friday: Two beef fajita tacos or chicken ala Mexican plate
Family namesake plates
Co-owner Jeanette Rodriguez said she named dishes after her two sons, whose pictures are displayed at the restaurant and in the to-go menu.
- Pepe’s Tacos include any combination of two tacos with a choice of barbacoa, carne guisada, picadillo, chicken or beef fajita or al carbon served with rice, beans, guacamole and pico de gallo. ($7.29)
- Nano Plate, featured on the kids menu and named for Rodriguez’s youngest son, includes one chicken and rice taco and one small chili queso. ($3.79)
El Charrito Mexican Restaurant, 302. S. Austin Ave., 930-9137
Sun.–Sat. 7 a.m.–9 p.m.