El Charro: Ever-Changing Menu, Constant Mexican Classics

Columns Order of the Day

September 10, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Although El Charro Mexicano Aiea Restaurant just celebrated its first anniversary, the cozy eatery offers customers a variety of Mexican cuisine through its expanded menu.

  • Pollo Poblano ($11)
  • Carnitas ($11.49)
  • Combination plate: Chile Rellano, Cheese Enchilada and Shredded Beef Burrito ($15.25)
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“We opened last year on Sept. 3,” says Sofia Ramirez, who owns the restaurant with her husband, John. “Our restaurant has a big sample of different Mexican flavors.”

El Charro prides itself on giving its customers exactly what they ask for.

“For example, if someone asks for a quesadilla in a certain way, that’s the way we make it for them,” she says. “They feel like we care for them and that’s our main thing — that people come and feel like they are eating at home. Everything in the restaurant is made from scratch; the only things that we don’t make are our tortillas and french fries.”

Ramirez and her husband take customer feedback seriously, frequently making changes to the restaurant’s menu to include highly requested dishes.

“When we realize it (a particular dish) is a big seller, we incorporate it into the menu,” Ramirez says. “We have not taken anything off the menu; we have only added to the menu because pretty much everything has been a best seller in our first year.”

One of the most popular entrees on El Charro’s menu is the Combination Plate ($15.25), in which customers can choose three items, including enchiladas, Chile Rellenos, tamales, burritos, tacos, flautas or chalupas. The three choices, however, cannot include two of the same item.

Fajitas del Mar (one for $17.49; two for $26.49) is another popular choice, because of its size and variety of ingredients. The fajitas come with fish, shrimp, scallops, sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers and onions. Customers often request Pollo Poblano ($11), or chicken breast sauteed in a cream sauce with poblano peppers and onions and served with rice, beans and the customer’s choice of tortillas. Although these entrees are popular, Ramirez says that people often enter the eatery asking about the restaurant’s Chile Relleno ($10 for cheese, $11 for beef or chicken) — a large poblano pepper stuffed with cheese and the customer’s choice of chicken — or Carnitas ($11.49), pieces of slow-cooked pork loin served with beans, rice, flour or corn tortillas and garnished with pico de gallo, guacamole and lettuce.

The most recent addition to El Charro’s menu is the El Charro Plate ($16.99) — chicken mole, one chicken tamale and one super chicken chalupa, accompanied by rice, beans and a choice of two tortillas. Ramirez explains that this plate is popular because customers often enjoy the restaurant’s in-house mole (sauce) recipe in perfect portion sizes.

“Mole has ingredients that are really rich, so a lot of people like to eat mole.” Two months ago, El Charro expanded its menu to include breakfast dishes. Popular breakfast dishes include Huevos Rancheros ($6.99) and the Mexican Loco Moco ($5), which is not on the menu but customers can order it.

“Huevos Rancheros is two corn tortillas with beans and rice on top of it, two over-easy eggs and is topped with cheese,” Ramirez explains. “The Mexican Loco Moco is Spanish rice, ground beef and two over-easy eggs served with salsa and cheese.”

Items on the breakfast menu can be served all day, but early risers can enjoy special breakfast prices.

“Everything after 11 a.m. will be different — what you see for $5 will be $8.50 and what’s $8.50 will be $10.50,” Ramirez says. “The average price per customer is about $10.50.”

While El Charro’s menu has already changed considerably since the restaurant opened, more additions are in store.

“Soon, we’re going to have our own margaritas,” she says. “Right now, we don’t have our liquor license, but in a few months, we’re going to be able to sell margaritas and Coronas.”

El Charro Mexicano Aiea Restaurant

  • Where
    • Aiea Shopping Center
    • 99-115 Aiea Heights Drive
    • Aiea, HI 96701
  • Call
    • (808) 488-9727
  • Hours
    • 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Monday – Thursday
    • 7:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Fridays and Saturdays
    • Closed Sundays
  • Notes
    • Free parking available.