The El Encantos: a battle for the best local burritos

Grant Richardson, staff writer

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El Encanto is a Mexican restaurant that started in Cave Creek, and expanded to include a total of three restaurants. The first one in Cave Creek is El Encanto, the second one is on Carefree Highway and is called El Encanto Dos, and the third one is in Fountain Hills and called El Encanto Restaurant.

The original owner, Bill Nelson, purchased a vacant building in Cave Creek. He had a passion for Mexico and Mexican food, so he opened the first El Encanto in the center of Cave Creek. Nelson brought a chef from Mexico to cook for his restaurant.

Quickly after it opened, people started to call it, “The Best Mexican food in the Valley.” One of Nelson’s goals about the restaurant was to have a nice patio where people could eat and enjoy the ambiance.

After lots of success, Nelson and his family decided to expand the franchise of El Encanto. The second location, called El Encanto Dos, opened in January of 2006. It is located in Desert Hills.

El Encanto is a mission style Mexican cantina that features a menu of classic dishes, and a patio with a duck pond. El Encanto Dos is a home-like Mexican restaurant with gourmet accents, and is an elegant, colorful hacienda-like restaurant.

El Encanto’s food took longer to come out from the kitchen than El Encanto Dos’s did. Even though it took longer, the food came out hotter and tasted better. At El Encanto Dos, the food came out very quickly, which was nice, but it was not as hot or as good compared to El Encanto.

The chips that came out as an appetizer were different at both restaurants. At El Encanto, the chips took a little bit of time to come out, but they were extremely hot, and so were the sauces they provided. At El Encanto Dos, the chips were at the table upon arrival.

The carne asada quesadilla at El Encanto was bigger, featuring more guacamole. El Encanto Dos’s carne asada was still a good size, but it was not as big or cooked the same as El Encanto.

First walking into the restaurant, the smell of food is very strong, and gives customers a Mexican feeling right away.

El Encanto Dos is on Carefree Highway. Looking at the restaurant, it looks like a regular building. Walking into the restaurant, a patio with seating is featured on both sides. It had a pleasant ambiance with stairs walking up to the restaurant, and trees surrounding them.

Each restaurant has a uniquely designed indoor and outdoor Cantinas, with a nice view. Intricate handcrafted details include a bar top made of Mexican stone. El Encanto Dos includes a sports bar that has five large plasma TV’s. All of the El Encanto restaurants are high quality, but the original El Encanto is the best out of the three. Although, all three restaurants are a great place to get Mexican food.   

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