El Puente Cantina

rellenos.jpgNumber 42 on my ongoing must-eat list: birria, a Mexican meat stew usually made with lamb or goat. Along with pozole and menudo, it’s one-dish comfort food that attracts the same kind of dedicated followers you find face-first in a bowl of pho or homemade chicken noodle soup.

One of a handful of restaurants that reliably serve up this homey standard, along with an impressive list of cantina classics, is the unfortunately-located El Puente Cantina on Santa Rosa Ave. Backed by a freeway off-ramp and wedged next to Denny’s and a gas station, it takes a bit of muster to walk in off the street.

But for the hungry souls who venture in (and it seems to be quite a few of you, judging from recent comments), El Puente’s cocina-style cooking (and full bar) is a welcome antidote to grubby tacquerias and fast-food nachos.

With an eye toward regional home-cooking, most of El Puente’s dishes are simple — homey chilaquiles for breakfast, tostadas, carnitas, tamales and burritos along with heartier entrees like Chicken Mole, Camarones A La Diabla and weekend menudo.  

Slightly more upscale are house favorites Chile Colorado, thin strips of pork in a rich red chili sauce (and also mine), along with meaty fajitas that come steaming to the table in a cloud of smoke and garlic. If you’re guilding the lily, try the Mojarra Entera Frita, a whole fried fish with tortillas.

Most dishes are solid renditions, served efficiently by friendly staff. Chiles Rellenos, sadly, don’t stand up to nearby Las Palmas’, but El Puente steals the show with their creamy, rich refried beans — a usually dismal side.

As an admitted newbie to the Mexican table, I’ll leave final judgments to more experienced tortilla-eaters. But now, at least you know where to get a solid margarita and that bowl of elusive birria — which by the way, is still on my list.

El Puente Cantina, 1709 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, 707.569.0988. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
 
 

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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14 Comments

  1. Absolute worst “Mexican” food on the planet. Bar none.

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  2. Please tell me where to find the best fish taco in SR. I also love picosa! Thanks

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  3. It’s chiles rellenos! Blame it on my iphone.

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  4. That picture looks like it was taken directly from, “What Gringos will eat at a “authentic” Mexican Resaturant”!! And don’t forget, the plates hot! Why? Why are these plates always hot!

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  5. Glad to see other people like this place as it is one of only two sit down Mexican food places I go in SR (the other is La Texanita on Sebastopol Ave). This is the about closest thing to the kind of “Tex-Mex” we ate back in the Lone Star State, minus the queso (if you know, you know). Plus on a summer day you can sit on the patio and watch the old Denny’s waitresses take their smoke breaks. Better than a movie!

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  6. El Puente is a favorite of ours. Their fajitas trio is simply amazing. I guess I’m going to have to try the chili colorado next time though. The had the best salsa I have ever had for a long time but they changed it a while ago, not sure why.
    Las Palmas is the numero uno place to get super carnitas burritos. Irene, what did you have there that was horrible?

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  7. I am going to check out this place this evening for the first time. Full report to follow! My mouth is watering just reading all the posts.

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  8. I find this restaurant to be hit and miss. For the most part it’s very good and have been about 6 times. Good chips and salsa, and enchiladas. Oh yum… it’s making me hungry and it’s only 8:30 a.m.
    To the writer ..Las Palmas is HORRIBLE!

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  9. Adam,Gino,Sam, Marce,
    Try Taqueria LA CABANA, and you’ll have an new favorite restaruant. Best Mexican Food in Town….

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  10. do i get a free burrito for pointing out the spelling mistake? (tacquerias)………….

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  11. This is the BEST authentic Mexican Food in all of Nor Cal. *drools over thought of Sopes!*

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  12. unless those lilies are joining a union, the word you’re looking for is “gild”, like “make golden”…or as the song said, “don’t gild the lily, Lily”…Bobby Rydell, i think..

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  13. Ill say it again, Caraones a la Diabla! El Puente rocks, thanks Bite Club for featuring my favorite mexican in santa rosa! The service there really is friendly as well. “Top Shelf?” “why yes, please!”

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  14. This place is a family favorite, authentic style, always happy with the food and service!

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