The rodeo: Forest Lakes Mex stakes claim on Main
Its name means "the Rodeo," but El Jaripeo kicked up precious little dust when it quietly unveiled a new look in October for the Main Street building last known as 12th Street Taphouse. It turns out that this expansion-minded Mexican restaurant is the brainchild of five owners, including Jovel Mencia, who we encountered prepping for the Sunday dinner crowd.
"I spent 16 years with Outback Steakhouse," says Mencia, whose brother– another of the five owners– is a 20-year veteran of Mexican restaurants. They opened the first El Jaripeo in Forest Lakes in 2010.
Both places feature a festive menu, emphasizing the classics of south-of-the-border cuisine– plus jumbo margaritas made with fresh lime juice and a secret house recipe. A sign in the Main Street restaurant (state liquor law keeps the venue from touting drink discounts) indicates the jumbos sell for $7.95 but go on special for $5.50.