The minds behind Charm City Burgers, the popular Deerfield Beach burger joint, brings us El Jefe Lunchador restaurant. The concept is ‘Mexican street food’ and it’s also located in Deerfield Beach, maybe less than a mile from Charm City. While the result might not be 100% authentically ‘Mexican street food’, they do a great job serving quality food at a good price and wow is this place always busy for lunch.
Located on US1 in a small strip mall, parking during lunchtime at El Jefe can be challenging. If you get there around noon, you should be good to go, but after it’s quite competitive. I rolled in at about 12:15 PM and found a spot easily as the line of cars started turning into the parking lot. They have a few tables outside for dining and most of the seating is located inside the restaurant.
This is a fast-casual restaurant where you wait in line to order and pay, then when your food is ready they call your ‘number’ to pick it up (just like Charm City). It’s quite the colorful place too with all kinds of writings and drawings on the walls giving an almost comic book vibe. On the far wall is a collection of wrestling masks mounted that add to the cool colorful vibe. Seating is scattered with some large tables in the middle of the space and a few smaller tables scattered about. There are also some stools and ‘counter seating’ so they can squeeze a few more spots in and for the solo diner (like I was today).
The one thing I’m not a fan of at El Jefe is the menu board and I find it a bit confusing unless you’ve been here numerous times. It’s almost as if someone was brainstorming as they came up with the format or maybe the ‘BAM POW BANG’ method in a comic. You have a list of tacos, burritos, salads and tortas on one side of it, then you have the more ‘unique specialty’ versions of those three located all around the menu in really no order whatsoever. You’d think they would group things together a bit more, but I guess it works for them.
The menu is as colorful as the décor of the restaurant and it makes it a bit hard to follow as well and it always takes me a few minutes to take it all. One last thing on the menu, it’s usually busy and you feel quite rushed so it’s a bit frustrating. The menu issue aside, the ordering process did go smoothly and I was handed my number, the soda cup and my receipt.
Soda is self-serve here with unlimited refills. It’s located next to a salsa/hot sauce type area that most of the Mexican restaurants have today. I filled up my soda, got my plastic utensils and picked out a stool close to the front door. It can be a bit loud here and the loudspeaker isn’t that clear, so you have to be sure you are listening for your number. They are also not being called sequentially, so you can’t use that as a guide. My order took maybe about 10 minutes total, which was pretty quick.
Tortas El Chavo – Pollo Asado ($6.50). A torta is the Mexican version of a sandwich and this was one of the specialty items. Per the menu – Mexico city style sandwich, crispy grilled telera roll, oaxaca cheese, guacamole, refried beans, jalapenos, lettuce (I had them hold the jalapeno). This sandwich was huge!! The roll was slightly pressed and crisp, not as flat as a Cuban sandwich, but I guess a bit similar. The chicken was chopped into pieces and had a nice grilled flavor. I did find the refried bean layer to be a bit thinner than I had wanted, but they made up for it with a large amount of guacamole which was fresh and tasty. Overall the sandwich had some great flavors and it did almost remind me of the toppings of nachos. After my second bite, I decided to ditch the bread and scoop up the toppings onto the side of chips I ordered and make my own nachos. Very good ones too!
Fountain Drink Combo – Chips and Pico de Gallo ($3.75). The torta (sandwhich) and anything else you order here does not come with any sides, so I added on the combo. The chips were thick corn chips that held up to the pico well. The pico was fresh and bright, but could have used a bit more cilantro. They do give you a huge portion of chips too and it’s probably enough to share.
There are lots of ways to customize your order here and they offer many kinds of meats (chicken , beef, pork) so you could keep going back and never have the same thing twice. The salads looked amazing, really big and served in a large metal bowl. One of those will be on my list the next time I visit for sure. The prices here are not bad either, with my total at about $10. El Jefe Lunchador is a fun place to satisfy that Mexican craving that is definitely different than the other chains in the area. We also hear they will be opening up another location inside of Boca Town Center. They do serve beer too.
El Jefe Lunchador is located at 27 S Federal Hwy, Deerfield Beach FL.