Our recent experiences at El Dorado have been so good that I thought I’d bring my review into the present. It’s so nice to see a restaurant with a hands-on owner, consistently good food and a minimum of drama. El Dorado fills that bill.
From a street vendor in Guadalajara to a storefront sandwiched between a UPS Store and an electrical supply place! That’s quite a leap for owner and chef Aquiles Demerutis. (Half Mexican and half Greek, he calls himself “Greexican.”) His taco joint, El Dorado, is one of the go-to places in Rehoboth Beach for light and fresh Baja-style fish & shrimp tacos and burritos.
Listen To Aquiles tell his amazing (and amusing) story to the Rehoboth Foodie on Sip & Bite with the Rehoboth Foodie on 105.9FM.
Dorado means “mahi-mahi” or “dolphin fish” (same thing), and that’s Aquiles’ magic ingredient. Several years ago, on my first visit, I bellied up to the counter and ordered a chicken burrito. He looked stunned, set down his pen and said, “Sir, you can get a chicken burrito at Applebee’s. Boring! Why not order my specialty!?!” Nothing if not obedient, I complied. And I’m certainly glad I did.
If El Dorado got any more informal, they’d be in a tent. The specials are emblazoned in dry-erase marker on a (real) surfboard suspended above the counter where your food is made-to-order. The menu is small and laminated. A circle of tables and booths orbits a fixin’s bar brimming with cool and fresh goodies.
We started with the nachos. Basic and satisfying, with a creamy yellow cheese reminiscent of a moderately sharp cheddar. It was a welcome diversion from the obligatory white melting cheeses out there nowadays. (Most of which have very little taste. There. I said it.) The guacamole is fresh and light, not too smooth (I hate food-processor guac) with not too much tomato. The taste of the avocado shines through nicely.
El Dorado1/7 El Dorado2/7 El Dorado celebrates Dia de los Muertos in October.3/7 More fun on Dia de los Muertos.4/7 El Dorado5/7 El Dorado6/7 El Dorado7/7
Most everybody at the table ordered various combinations of the fish and/or shrimp and/or chorizo tacos and/or burritos. The beer-battered mahi is firm and crunchy, and is all taco’d up in a soft flour tortilla with fresh cabbage strips. The shrimp are lightly battered and crispy, and the burrito in which they were swaddled was full of crunchy cabbage, jalapenos (I asked for them) and a white cream-based sauce somewhat similar to the Mexican crema.
The fixins’ bar is the star of the show at El Dorado. Aquiles or one of his loyal minions will deliver your order to the table, and now it’s your turn to load up on the cool and fresh pico de gallo, avocado salsa with chili peppers, even more shredded cabbage, a tomatillo salsa made with Chili de Arbol and (this is my favorite), a potent and magical mix of onions, carrots and habaneros. Very hot and impossibly delicious. I cannot tell a lie: I went back up to the counter and ordered a pint of it. That night I stood over the sink and ate it all. Please don’t tell anyone.
This is now one of our regular places. Specials on our most recent visit included the Cancun Burrito (mahi, scallops, guacamole, chipotle peppers (smoked jalapenos), pico de gallo and romaine), and a Crab Quesadilla (crab and all the necessary goodies sandwiched between two flour tortillas). All the mains are accompanied by rice and beans–not refried beans, mind you, but firm, flavorful pintos.
El Dorado is in the Plaza 24 shopping center at 18766 John J. Williams Highway (Rt. 24), immediately on your right next to the UPS Store after you turn onto Rt. 24 from Coastal Highway. They’re open in season from 11am to 9pm every day. Give them a call off-season just to make sure–sometimes they close on Sundays (302) 645-1596.
By the way, they have a small but adequate selection of beers and Mexican bottled soft drinks. Click here to check their website and see the menu at El Dorado. (L., D.,) Price range: Inexpensive-.