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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Mexican Food Fast, Not Phony: El Patrón

Mexican Food Fast, Not Phony: El Patrón

by Pasadena Independent
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-Courtesy Photo


By Ea Nicole Madrigal


I am Mexican American. And, as some readers might relate to, I grew up eating fresh Mexican rice and beans, watching my father eat menudo for breakfast, and making a couple hundred tamales over the Christmas holiday.

Nowadays, Mexican food is split into two camps: “fresh-Mex” and authentic Mexican. We all know the corporate leaders of the fresh-Mex craze that supplement Mexican food with white or brown rice and usually offer black beans. This is very different than authentic Mexican food. Yet, both styles possess a similarity: they can be served fast (maybe some quicker than others). The danger of expediently served Mexican food is the potential to sacrifice quality in the process. However, at El Patrón in Altadena, fast meets authentic.

The first thing I thought of when I took my first bite of El Patrón’s take on huevos rancheros was that I could not wait to go home, call my father, and tell him I have a new, delicious Mexican restaurant we must try in Altadena. As we know very well, in Southern California (let alone Los Angeles), Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen. Many are decent, some are worth going back to, and some are simply “delicioso” (delicious). El Patrón is the latter.

El Patrón has two locations in Altadena. Alex Cortez owns and operates both locations and his family has been in the food business for a long time. This familial tradition to provide excellent Mexican food is on display at El Patrón today.

I decided to visit the Lincoln Avenue location on Sunday early afternoon. You could drive right by it if you are not looking for it. Sitting in a commercial shopping center, this location has a small sit-down dining area where you order at the counter and your food is served to your table sometime later. I did not have to wait long to feast on “desayunos” (breakfast). Since I made my trip to El Patrón prior to noon, I thought the huevos rancheros was the best pick! The friendly staff served me some fresh pico de gallo with chips to snack on while I waited for my main course. Then, a large oval plate came steaming over to my table.

The eggs were cooked so perfectly that the cut of my fork allowed a delicious ooze of yoke to fall onto the tortilla beneath and join with the rice and beans. Everything about this dish hollered out “authentic Mexican cuisine.” Even better, the price for this breakfast (plus an ice-cold orange juice) was not pretentious, and it makes it possible that you could dub El Patrón a weekly hangout for superb Mexican food.

As I also noticed, on top of extensive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, El Patrón offers specials that sound as good in price as they do in potential taste.

-Courtesy Photo

-Courtesy Photo


I was pleasantly surprised that, even though I had come at perhaps at an unusual time for Sunday diners, there were several people there from all walks of life (enjoying both breakfast and lunch). But, if you do not hear or read about El Patrón, there is a chance you would drive right by with location. So, now that you know – and if you appreciate well-prepared, authentic Mexican food – you will slow down as you drive by, turn into the parking lot, and indulge in Mexican food nirvana.

*For more information on El Patrón, go to their website: elpatrononline.com. They have locations on 2555 N. Lake in Altadena and 2234 Lincoln Ave. in Altadena. (626) 296-2818.

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