El Matador Mexican Restaurant, at 2233 Old Lafayette Road in Fort Oglethorpe, is a north Georgia staple, having maintained steady business for well over 20 years. Only a short drive from downtown Chattanooga, it’s a convenient opportunity for a nice Mexican meal.
Its menu offers several pages of cuisine choices. With so many options it’s actually hard to make a decision. El Matador offers a full array of appetizers, entrees, kids’ plates, sandwich options, and desserts. My friend and I ultimately decided on milanesa and chile colorado as our entrees, each priced at $10.95. Both meals were attractively presented and contained extremely hearty portions. In fact, we each left with to-go boxes.
Like many Mexican eateries, the walls of El Matador are adorned with traditional murals that lend a warm and friendly ambiance. The staff was attentive and helpful throughout the meal. The chips and salsa were fresh and delicious. However, be warned that the salsa might be a bit spicy for those sensitive to heat. But it’s uniquely flavorful to the palate and accompanies the rest of the meal terrifically. My personal side option is the cheese dip ($3.95) – a must-have if you get the chance to visit. In contrast to the salsa, the cheese dip is not spicy and seems a solid crowd favorite.
My dining companion decided to add a bowl of chicken soup ($6.95), thinking it would be a small side to the main meal. Instead, he was served an enormous bowl chocked full of white chicken, carrots, zucchini, rice and cilantro. He allowed me to have some of the soup. It was delicious – perhaps a variation of pazole, which has been a wonderful dish in Mexico for centuries.
The milanesa plate was a traditional dish of thinly cut, breaded steak served with rice, refried beans, french fries, and a salad of fresh lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. The chile colorado was equally satisfying. I’ve had the dish in many places and it’s always been done a bit differently at each. El Matador presents the dish as strips of lean beef bathed in a flavorful red chiles sauce, along with cilantro and onions. The dish includes rice, beans, and salad.
Good food, friendly service, reasonable prices and a comfortable atmosphere have clearly kept El Matador thriving for more than two decades. ¡Que bueno!