The first indicator of the quality of a Mexican restaurant is its salsa. The salsa at El Bronco on Watson Boulevard in Warner Robins is completely smooth with a lot of pepper added to make it spicy. No chunks of fresh veggies, no hint of cilantro, nothing but a ketchup-like base with a lot of black pepper.
In a word, everything seemed a bit cheap, and not in a good way. The cheese dip was runny; the bean dip was mostly runny cheese and things didn’t get much better after that.
First, we had the El Bronco quesadilla, with grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, melted cheese and grilled onions, and served with a guacamole salad and pico de gallo for $10.75. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
It was just OK, with very little cheese for a dish that’s name means “little cheesy thing.” Beef was the most prevalent of the three proteins. The accompanying guacamole was also thin and only lightly green, a sign that the avocado is cut with sour cream to stretch it.
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My chori pollo was disappointing. The chicken was hammered very thin and grilled in one long piece, though the flavor was not bad. It comes with Mexican sausage, which I normally like, but this was more like the salty bits that are scraped off the grill after the sausage is done. The accompanying hot tortillas were good, but it was a lot of work to cut the chicken into something that could be wrapped up in them. Even though I don’t like wasting food, I returned at least half of my $9.95 meal to the kitchen.
The T-bone steak for $11.99 was probably the strangest dish. The meat was an odd gray color and was cooked completely through, though we did not specify well-done (nor were we asked what done-ness we preferred). After cooking, the thickness measured about half an inch. I suspect that this 10-ounce steak was cut very thin as another cost-cutting measure.
Our $9.95 beef burritos were not bad, but neither were they appetizing enough to finish. More than half of these also went back to the kitchen.
I hear that El Bronco is very popular, so I want to detail the things they are doing well. The decor is pretty nice, having been a chain restaurant about a decade ago. The staff is very pleasant and the service is quick.
Many of the things that I did not like here I have seen before in non-native owned Mexican restaurants in this area: spice as opposed to freshness, quantity as opposed to quality.
The prices are not cheap enough to justify the ratchet down in quality and I would not recommend it based on the dishes we tried.
Address: 2067 Watson Blvd., Warner Robins
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: Yes
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 85
Price range: $7-$13
Rating: 2 stars