Thursday, March 5, 2015

El Amerikano Media Dinner

El Amerikano
100 South Harbor Blvd. 
Fullerton, CA 92832

In an area with as many restaurants as Downtown Fullerton, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. Almost wherever you stand in this thriving area, you can throw a rock in any direction and hit about three restaurants. Not that I condone throwing rocks at restaurants, unless they serve quinoa, but my main point is that there are a lot of places to eat along Harbor Boulevard.

One restaurant that flew under my radar was El Amerikano. They have been open for close to a year now, but I had not heard too much about them. That's why we jumped at the chance to see what they were all about when we were recently invited to come in and sample some of their new menu items.

El Amerikano is part of Kentro Hospitality Group, which also features one other restaurant, Kentro Greek Kitchen, which just happens to be next door. Checking out the reviews for Kentro, they get some glowing reviews for their Greek food, so I have put them down on our list of places to hit up. Both these spots are located on some prime real estate at the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth, near the Spaghetti Factory and the train station.

Executive Chef and Partner Konstantine Marougas, along with owner, Vasili Kotsiovos have put together a menu at El Amerikano that includes many American favorites, but with a Latin twist. Not ones to rest on their laurels, they have added some protein rich dishes to their menu recently. Chef Konstantine really wants to give diners a sense of comfort, while adding excitement with the additions of fresh herbs, non-traditional cooking techniques, and layering of flavors with each dish. I was really excited to see what they had in store for us on this night.

We were escorted to their roomy patio with lots of other food bloggers in attendance. Almost all of my favorite food writers were here, and it's always a good chance to catch up, and find out what restaurants I have been missing out on. Just as we had gotten settled, the food made it's way out, and our cameras came out to snap pictures before anyone dug in. One of the perks of eating with food writers is that no one eats until everyone finishes with their pictures. After a long wait for the food paparazzi to work their magic, it was time to eat. Let's take a look at some of the new favorites at El Amerikano.

First up was a Cucumber Ceviche Salad ($7). To be honest, I'm usually not a fan of cucumbers or tomatoes, both of which were featured prominently in this salad, but with the other ingredients that were in here they negated my dislike for these two items. This salad also included avocados, almonds, shallots, and some goat cheese. These really added a nice component to this salad. The texture and earthiness of the almonds, the slight tang from the goat cheese, and the shallots added a tremendous flavor, making this a solid salad. A very nice start to the evening.

This Warm Mushroom Salad ($7) was the biggest surprise of the night for me. When I saw that it included only cabbage, goat cheese, sweet peppers, eggplant, pepitas, and of course mushrooms, I had little hope this was going to be very flavorful, but I was wrong. It had a wonderful earthiness to it, and the mushrooms acted more like a protein here. The sweet peppers gave this a little punch, and the cabbage introduced some crunch. A very well done salad.

I've never really been a big fan of eggplant, but recently I have kind of acquired a taste for it. This Mole Eggplant ($6) continued that trend. The eggplant was thrown in the bowl with ancho chile, guajillo, cotija, chives, and for good measure, tortilla strips. This is listed on their menu as a starter, and if you did choose this to start with, it'll definitely get you excited for the rest of your meal here. A very filling appetizer, with a well done mole sauce that's got a touch of sweetness to it.

Brussels Sprouts ($7) seem to be the hottest thing on menus right now. This maligned vegetable that everyone seemed to dislike when we were growing up, has become the hottest thing all of a sudden. A lot of this hype can be credited to chefs that have come up with creative ways to appeal to diners. Chef Konstantine has done this at El Amerikano also. In this Brussels sprouts dish he combines chorizo, almonds, cotija, jalapeno, and then tops this with a healthy dollop of crema fresca. The result is a very hearty dish that does not try to hide the Brussels sprouts, but showcase them alongside the chorizo and the crema. I will definitely be getting this on my next visit.

Probably the most visually stunning dish of the night was this Al Pastor Pork Chop ($16). When I was growing up, my mom never cooked pork chops that looked like this. This very meaty chop had a very pleasant al pastor glaze to it, which did not interfere with the natural flavor of the tender pork. The one misstep of the night for me was the farro salad that was plated next to the chop. A little on the bland side, and I would have liked more of a starchy side item to play up the comfort food feel of the pork.

We finished things off with this very good Asada Brava ($19). This rib eye was cooked to a beautiful medium rare, tender, and with a very nice Latin rub on it.  We were also a fan of the creamed corn poblano, which was a nice twist on regular, old creamed corn. A very nice finish to the night at El Amerikano.

Katie was enamored with the food that we had on this night, and has already made me promise that I'd take her back to El Amerikano again real soon. As a newly diagnosed diabetic, she really enjoyed that they offer plenty of options that are diabetic friendly. I was just happy that the food we had tasted so good. This is a very unique restaurant in OC. They are doing stuff here that is not really going on in any other kitchen around. Yes, they serve burgers and sandwiches, but they are throwing their own spin on things, which makes them stand out. I was also pretty impressed with their price point here. No menu item is over the $20 mark, and there are plenty of things to choose from that will not even set you back ten dollars. A very good value in this area of Fullerton.

We would like to thank everyone at El Amerikano for their hospitality, great food, and service on this night. It was a real pleasure getting to meet both Chef Konstantine and owner Vasili. Thank you both for your wonderful generosity, and it was a pleasure seeing your passion for your restaurant first hand. We would also be remiss if we did not thank everyone at Moxxe PR for this wonderful opportunity to experience this restaurant. Thanks so much for thinking of inviting us.

If you would like to experience this restaurant for yourself, or would like more information about El Amerikano, go to their website here:


  1. Looks fantastic, but I would still have a hard time picking it or Kentro, next door. The food there is great. Oh well, such a decision.

  2. Mike - Good to hear that Kentro is good. I'm with you. I'd rather have Greek than this, but Katie really wants to come back here, so I guess we'll have to make two trips up this way. Have a great weekend.