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Nikk Bolka, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, ordered this molcajete during a recent visit to El Patron Mexican Grill in Edgerton. The dish, served with rice, beans and pico de gallo, featured charred steak, shrimp, carnitas and chicken along with a mix of grilled vegetables and red potatoes served in the traditional stone bowl.

EDGERTON

El Patron in Edgerton is like a cute little corner cafe overlaid with a Mexican flair. With three locations (Sun Prairie, Fort Atkinson and Edgerton), its owners must be doing something right.

We dined at around 6 p.m. on a Thursday night and were quickly seated at one of six booths. El Patron’s interior has many distinctive features. Wood booths line the walls with festive red sombreros hanging from each one. Beautiful hardwood floors give the place a vintage vibe. Other distinguishing aspects include a full-service bar with a brick accent wall, open shelving and seating for eight and a lovely antique tin ceiling. In addition to the booths, there are several tables for dining, as well.

Always on the lookout for unique and unusual dishes, we like to check out the specials—some of which were posted just inside the door. The drinks are what caught our eye with such colorful names that we had to ask our server to explain a couple of them.

The Texas margarita, which was as big as Texas, weighing in at 22 ounces with an added shot of amaretto ($7.99), was interesting. I could still taste the lime and tequila floating underneath the amaretto.

I’m a huge chips and salsa fan. El Patron’s chips are salted just right and somehow manage to be thin and light without breaking off when dipped in salsa. And I was happy to discover it was my kind of salsa—rich and tomatoey with garlic and light spices. El Patron also serves a bowl of cheese sauce, which was creamy and slightly sweet. Combine the two and you’ve got a wonderful concoction. To top it off, the server readily replenished our chips whenever we started running low.

The menu offered some different options along with traditional favorites. I’ve always liked verde sauce and spotted chili verde ($12.99) under the “special dinners” section. The melt-in-your-mouth shredded pork was exceptional in the lightly spiced sauce, which I scooped up in a warm flour tortilla. The sides of rice and beans went well with this dish, which I’ll certainly go back for.

With all of the entree choices, Mexican restaurant menus can be somewhat overwhelming for Jennifer. After much deliberation, she decided on a seafood dish—the quesadilla camarones ($13.49).

The huge, grilled flour tortilla stuffed with succulent shrimp, onions, tomatoes, green peppers and a white, gooey cheese was flavorful, and the restaurant definitely didn’t skimp on the shrimp. With each bite, Jennifer discovered more and more, leaving her ecstatic. Her meal also came with an avocado salad, which consisted of shredded lettuce, tomatoes, a plentiful amount of guacamole and sour cream, all topped with shredded cheese.

The mango pechuga ($12.99), another special dinner, piqued Helene’s interest with its house-made mango sauce. She hadn’t considered chicken paired with mango before and was pleasantly surprised by the combination. The sauce was light and slightly sweet, and the two grilled chicken breasts were thin and tender. This made for a filling meal with the accompanying rice and salad topped with sour cream.

Nikki also went with one of the special dinners, the el molcajete ($17.99). Named for the centuries-old culinary tool in which it is served (an oversized stone mortar and pestle), El Patron’s molcajete is a protein lover’s delight. Perfectly seasoned and charred steak, shrimp, carnitas and chicken along with a mix of grilled vegetables and red potatoes were practically overflowing from the hot stone bowl. It was a fun dish to savor on its own, but it also came with a plate of rice and beans and the requisite pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole and corn tortillas.

For fans of seafood, El Patron serves a similar dish with shrimp, scallops and crab ($18.99).

Although most of us were going home with leftovers, we thought maybe we had a little room saved for something sweet. The chef came over to check in with us and helpfully explained the dessert choices. There was fried ice cream, churros, chimi cheesecake and sopapillas.

After learning they were all made in-house, we decided to split an order of sopapillas ($2.25). Delicately fried tortilla triangles topped with a cinnamon/sugar combination, drizzled with chocolate sauce and garnished with loads of whipped cream, it was just what we were craving.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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