Today I narrowly avoided what could have been a gigantic vegan disaster.  In fact, our experience at El Cholo was tempered by the coconut margarita and the fact that this delicious froo-froo drink left me overlooking many details of my order.  And in the end, the disaster that befell Friand was not worth the small amount of enjoyment we gained from the drinks.

Upon sitting, we were given a basket of chips & 2 bowls of salsa.  Unfortunately for El Cholo, this salsa did not make any great impression – to my palate, it amounted to a thick tomato sauce with cilantro and a hint of red pepper.  Not very exciting…. so we ordered guacamole.  The best part of the guacamole was that it was prepared (fresh avocado and all!) at our table according to our specifications.  We instructed our server to dump everything he had to offer in it: tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro.  Spice it up, baby!  On the downside, he did not bring us a fresh basket of chips to accompany the guac, so we literally were able to eat about 10 bites before we were out of chips.  The guac was missing salt and lime juice, and Friand was very quick to point out that my homemade guacamole was infinitely better.  Yay me!

For my entree, I ordered “Annie’s Early California Enchilada” The online menu lists the ingredients as: garden fresh vegetables, spinach, sauteed mushrooms, jack cheese, corn and tomato salsa.  But at the restaurant, the jack cheese is not listed.  I specifically asked the server to leave off the cheese, and much to his credit he was very careful in repeating back my request.

When my dish arrived, though… the enchilada was covered in…. something.  We were stumped.  WTF was this stuff?  It almost looked like cheese, but not really.  It didn’t take us long to realize that the “corn” listed on the menu wasn’t just corn kernels, it was creamed corn.  Too bad.  Our first instinct was to mention this to our server during the obligatory “how is everything” visit moments after the food arrives. After 5 minutes he still hadn’t checked on us, nor had we even seen him our area!  So, Friand decided to dive head first into the enchilada, and eventually flag down the server (when he finally did happen to walk past our table) to ask for more chips for the guacamole – at least I could eat that.

It didn’t take long, though, for something to go terribly wrong with Friand.  Very suddenly, he isn’t looking so hot.  He’s getting pale, sweaty, uncomfortable, and he’s stopped eating.  That’s always a bad sign when the man whose only requisite for food is “it must be dead” stops eating halfway through a vegetarian enchilada.  And before we know it, he’s excusing himself from the table.  He returns looking worse than before, and declares that we have to go home.

An hour of unconsciousness on the sofa passes before he’s even able to talk about what he ate, much less assess what might have gone wrong.  The only thing we could think was that the creamed corn wasn’t on the level.

To sum up our experience:  I did not eat anything at El Cholo except a coconut margarita and a giant bowl of guacamole, while Friand got sick on the vegetarian enchilada.  I am giving El Cholo 2 sprouts for effort, though I have a feeling that it will be a long (long) time before Friand wants to eat there again.  Annie’s California Enchilada has a lot of promise, though for future reference (and this goes for restauranteurs and customers alike) ingredients on a menu should be listed as accurately as possible.  Creamed Corn is nothing like “corn” therefore is a very misleading description.  Annie’s Enchilada, then, is vegetarian by nature, but can be made vegan by removing the corn & cheese.  It has promise though… and I need a 2 sprout review on this blog to fill out the sidebar…. so there ya go.

Friand is recovering from his traumatic experience, but I have to tell him I will be eternally grateful to him for checking the “questionable” corn and saving me from having to suffer both lactose intolerance and food poisoning at the same time.  Thanks sweetie.  I owe you a big bowl of homemade guacamole for that…

El Cholo | Los Angeles
1121 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 734-2773

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