Chipotle Mexican Grill – Placerville

“You know how I feel about tacos. It’s the only food shaped like a smile.”

— Spoken by the character Earl Hickey in “My Name is Earl,” (2006)


Chipotle Mexican Grill

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Chipotle had delivered a number of burritos to the folks at the newspaper to try, as an introduction to their soon-to-open restaurant on Missouri Flat Road across from Safeway. Well, last week they had a pre-opening event to train their people and introduce their food to the locals. I got to go twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. Both times I was impressed.

I would say their food is very “middle of the road,” meaning that it ranges from lightly spiced to not too highly spiced, something most people enjoy. Now, for we who eat fire, they have several varieties of Tabasco sauce to add .

To give you a bit of background, the first Chipotle was opened in Denver, Colo. in 1993 by Steve Ells, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. The business has rapidly expanded since then, and is now a publicly traded corporation with more than 1,100 restaurants world-wide. They are all company owned and not franchised.

In 2001 Chipotle released a mission statement called “Food With Integrity,” which highlighted efforts to increase the use of naturally raised meat, organic produce and dairy without added hormones. They still strive to do that at all the restaurants, while also shopping as locally as possible and using products from small, family owned farms whenever possible.

The menu is simple and the food preparation is fast. You start at one end of the counter where you are greeted with a smile by one of the team members. You decide if you want a burrito (wrapped or in a bowl), tacos (three) or a salad and tell the team member what kind of meat (or no meat vegetarian) and what kind of beans (or sautéed peppers and onions) you want.

The meat choices are chicken, steak, carnitas and barbacoa; the bean choices are pinto or vegetarian black. They add your choice to your dish, along with their famous cilantro lime rice, if you wish, passing your food to the next team member who adds cheese or sour cream, your choice of salsa (mild tomato, medium roasted chile-corn or tomatillo-green or the hot tomatillo-red), lettuce and, for an additional cost, guacamole.

To that you can add a drink, chips, salsa and more guacamole if you like.
After paying you take your tray and find a seat at one of the inside or outside tables, or on one of the stools at the counter along the wall, which I like.

Chipotle is also very kid friendly and has four items on the kid’s menu: a small cheese quesadilla, with a side of rice and beans; a small meat and cheese quesadilla, with rice and beans; a single taco with a side of rice; and a unique taco kit, which includes the ingredients for two tacos they can build themselves, on a tray for easy building. All kid’s menu items come with a kid’s chips and a drink (juice, organic milk — plain or chocolate).

What did I try? At lunch I had a burrito in a bowl, made with barbacoa (shredded beef braised with the chipotle adobo), black beans, rice, cheese, the hot salsa and a scoop of guacamole. It, along with a sample of all three salsas and a bag of chips, made for a very good tasting meal. I really liked the spiciness of the barbacoa, their unique, limey chips, the tasty green salsa and the freshly made guacamole.

After working off lunch, for dinner I had a chicken salad. It started with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken (marinated in the chipotle adobo), cheese and salsa (again hot). Instead of beans I chose the fajita mix of sautéed peppers and onions. I added some guacamole and with the chipotle-honey vinegarette it was outstanding. It was a different experience that I really enjoyed. I would choose it over a burrito for a lighter meal. Yes, I had more chips and guacamole, which I shared with a neighbor.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is located in the shopping center with Safeway, at 3987 Missouri Flat Road in Placerville. It is open daily from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. and can be reached at 530-748-0094. You can also order online at, or use your iPhone or by fax. The fax number is 530-295-0118.
Take time to stop by and give them a try.

Carniceria y Taqueria Soto – Placerville

“You can tell how long a couple has been married by whether they are on their first, second or third bottle of Tabasco.”

— Bruce Bye


Carniceria y Taqueria Soto

Located across from Raley’s in the Western Plaza shopping center, Carniceria y Taqueria Soto is another of the least known, and probably the smallest, restaurants in El Dorado County.

“We originally had the store and meat market (carniceria) and just started making snacks in the kitchen for our customers and then expanded into food to go,” said Vicky Soto, who owns the business with her husband Beto. “Our burritos and tacos became very popular, so about a year ago we decided to expand. We now have quite a menu and following.”

When I dropped in last week just to get information on the restaurant, I spent most of the time wandering the aisles looking at many unique foods and items available. Boy, if you were going to put together a Mexican style dinner, you need to shop here. On top of all the spices, dry and canned goods, drinks, produce (ripe avocados), baked goods and even piñatas they stock, their meat counter has a large variety of freshly sliced meat not found many other places, meats ready for your Mexican dish.

Back to the restaurant, it is a real taqueria in the true sense, and seats less than 10 people. It is really set up for orders to go. They serve a large variety of tacos, sea food regular and super burritos, combination plates and tortas. And, they have Mexican drinks like (h)orchata, jamaica (hibiscus) and pina (pineapple), along with imported and domestic bottled soft drinks.

The meat selection for the tacos includes asada, adobada, carnitas, pollo asado, lengua, buche, chorizo, tripa de res and pescado (fish). The combination plates include: enchiladas, tamales, chile relleno, quesadillas and more. On Saturday and Sunday you can get menudo and birra (beef).

Each day there is a lunch special for only $5.99. Monday it is a chile verde burrito lunch, Tuesday a chile relleno lunch, Wednesday (all day) one of my favorite Mexican dishes, pozole. Thursday’s special is a tamale lunch and Fridays is a two fish taco lunch. Saturday and Sunday is menudo.

Stop by and check out the store and the taqueria. The taqueria is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday. For more information call 530-295-8121.

Oh, one of my first comments to Vicky was how clean the place was. She looked at me and said, “I haven’t even swept today.” And, if you think you recognize Vicky, she worked at Durango’s, just up the street, for eight years.

Criminal Annals, Part 130: Mayhem and More Mayhem

Continuing with the always entertaining Recorder’s Court listings in the Sept. 28, 1852, edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find the following:

“Recorder’s Court.- Before Judge McGrew. Monday, Sept. 27, 1852.

“Juan Baptiste, an old offender, for fighting and riotous conduct. Juan’s complexion was of that doubtful character sometimes found in eggplants – neither white nor black – but a kind of purple bordering between the two. Found guilty; judgment; suspended.

“Semprana Nevara, for drunkenness and disorderly conduct  – discharged.

“Auguste Stenegal, for riotous conduct and fighting. Plead not guilty. A negro making his appearance, uninvited inside the bar, and declaring to have received bruises across the arm from the aforesaid Stenegal, called from that gentleman various muttered threats, accompanied by angry shaking of the fists, grinding of the teeth, and glaring of the eyes. The prisoner bringing no witnesses wished to have ‘the boys,’ who were sent for and were not found. It is worthy of observation that he had a great contempt for courts of justice and accusations in general, as he sported a large segar and smoked it in the ‘August presence.’ Verdict of guilty entered, fine of $10 and costs, and forty- eight hours imprisonment.

“William Strong, a stout looking man, for assault and battery on the person of William, alias Felix O’Rourke, who, as many additional scars on his unfortunate physiognomy plainly showed, was this time the plaintiff in the action. Prisoner pleading guilty, was fined $5 and costs— default, imprisonment.

“Several other cases were called, some of which were held over, and others of no material interest.”

In the following edition of the paper, dated Sept. 29, 1852, is found literally nothing but advertisements and political comments about the upcoming election. Even the source of much local information, “From the Interior,” contained little but political information. However, there is a small list of actions from the Recorder’s Court.

“Recorder’s Court. – Before Judge McGrew. Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1852.

Michael Murry, for disturbing the peace. Michael and several companions were indulging in a series of gyrations denominated ‘pugilistic’ – advancing and shying off – making loud noises and threats. Before anything serious occurred, however, Michael, the principal offender, found himself on his way to the station house. Found guilty and fined $5 and costs.

James Horton, for disturbance of the peace. Mr. Horton having arrived from the plains on Sunday, considered it his duty, in his own language, to ‘see the pictures.’ In looking at them at a certain Chinese house, he became intoxicated, flourished a pistol, and behaved badly in other respects. Fined $10 and costs.

John Williams, for like cause. The prisoner was a genuine specimen of the true hearted sailor, and related his defence in a frank, unvarnished style. He confessed. his weakness on the score of drinking – said he always would indulge – but hoped the court would deal gently with him, in consideration of this being his first offence. The sympathies of the Court, and all others present, were strongly in John’s favor. The evidence against him convicted, however, and he was fined $5 and costs.

“Case of Wm. Dennis, continued from yesterday. Petit larceny, for stealing a trunk from on board the steamer Antelope. Found guilty, and ordered to three months imprisonment.

Juan Baptiste – case continued from yesterday. Fined $30 and costs; in default ten day’s imprisonment. Not having the spare change about him, Juan was sent up.

A case of inquiry against North Wellington, (colored,) charged with stealing $300. The evidence, was complicated, abundant, and conflicting. The defendant was discharged.

Augustus Stenegal, for assault and battery upon the person of Jackson Jordan. No witnesses and prisoner discharged.”

In the Sept. 30, 1852, edition of the Daily Union is found an interesting letter from Monterey regarding a robbery.


“The last number of the San Joaquin Republican [Stockton, 1851-1854, then became a daily from 1854-1873] furnished by Adams & Co.’s Express, contains an interesting letter from a correspondent at Monterey, dated Sept. 18th, from which we extract the following:

“On the 12th, (Sunday,) a Sonorian [sic] journeying to the Salinas river, was met by a party of five Mexicans, who stopped and robbed him, taking his serape and some trifling articles. After the robbery, they immediately proceeded towards the river, whilst the Sonorian returned to Monterey. After his arrival here, he procured another horse, and proceeded to the Salinas and made known the circumstances of the robbery to Henry Cocks, Esq. Justice of the Peace, who immediately collected and armed a party of eight persons and proceeded to the house of a noted character; upon arriving within a short distance of the place, alarm was given by the dogs barking, and immediately the lights in the house were extinguished, and shots were fired at the assailing party; they however charged up and fired a few rounds in exchange, when the inmates of the house broke and ran in various directions. Two were shot down, and one was badly wounded who escaped; the next morning one of them returned to the house, when the owner under pretence [arch.] of shooting a squirrel, directed a boy to reach him his gun, which he immediately cocked and leveled at the robber, ordering him to give up his arms, which he did, and then broke from the house. Chase was given, and he was overtaken and killed. An inquest was held to-day on the three bodies, and a verdict returned in accordance with the circumstances. Some of the horses of the party were taken and recognised [arch] as belonging to various rancheros in the neighborhood – having been stolen.

The above transaction has caused great excitement, and universal satisfaction is manifested at the promptitude of the action, as the leader of the band was killed, and he was known as a most desperate character.

“The same writer adds that these men were probably a portion of a large band of horse-thieves who have infested that neighborhood, mostly Mexicans; and that a report had just come in that eleven more scoundrels belonging to the same band, had been surprised and attacked by a company of Americans from San Jose. Six of them were killed, the remainder taken prisoners and carried to San Jose.”

“The Indians. —We learn from the sheriff of Tulare county, who called upon us yesterday, that the Indians are quiet and no alarms are entertained by the settlers. Large numbers of emigrants are settling down on the fertile plains with their families There is every prospect of that portion of the country being thickly settled – Ib.

(To be continued.)