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El Menchaca / Caribbean Island Restaurant, 3024 Two Notch Road: June 16 2008   24 comments

Posted at 12:05 am in restaurants

It seems to me that a number of Jamacian or Caribbean restaurants have come and gone in the past few years. I'm somewhat curious about the cusine since my impression is that it is spicy, but since the only specific dish I hear of often is "Jerk Chicken", and I don't eat chicken, I've never gotten around to trying one. I believe before this restaurant, the building housed El Menchaca Mexican Restaurant for many years. I'm not sure what happened here to make the building unsafe. The windows are too grimy to see much inside, so I'm not sure if it was a fire or what.

UPDATE 21 July 2011: Finally got around to adding El Menchaca and full street address to the post title!

Written by ted on September 22nd, 2008

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24 Responses to 'El Menchaca / Caribbean Island Restaurant, 3024 Two Notch Road: June 16 2008'

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  1. Yes, that was El Menchaca, which had the best Mexican food in town.

    The State paper says this place had a fire June 16. Probably damaged the roof so it's unsafe because the roof may fall in on someone.

    Dennis

    22 Sep 08 at 5:06 am

  2. It was a fire. They have relocated to Beltline in the building that used to be Roche Brothers/ Ailes.

    Andrea

    7 Feb 10 at 5:55 pm

  3. Ditto to Dennis: Best Mexican food ever! Authentic. My mouth is remembering!!!

    Becky

    15 Jun 10 at 12:26 am

  4. Yes that was El Menchaca. I had been eating at El Menchaca since 1976. When I was working at a Car Stereo Shop, Continental Sound, at the corner of Beltline and Two Notch road in 1977 we had my 20th birthday party there in the back room. It got crazy when one of the guys I worked with hit me in the face with a cream pie after singing happy birthday and I started throwing cake at everyone. The lady that owned the place just about went nuts and almost threw us out until my Boss gave her $100.00 to have the room cleaned. The lady and man that owned the place, I can't remember their names worked long hours, He was mexican and did most of the cooking, she was german. They made everything from scratch and I will ALWAYS still crave a huge burrito they made called "The Monster" That name was even registered according to their menu. The green sauce they served as a condiment, their version of Taco Sauce was killer, I think it was just ground up Jalapino peppers. It was great on the Monster. When ever I ordered a Monster the Lady said she would have it made "Extra Juicey" for me. (I ate there so often She Knew how I liked it)The Man passed away a year or so before they closed. The Lady kept it open for awhile but I think she told me she was ready to retire and that was the end of that. People from as far away as the west coast that knew about El Menchaca would visit whenever they were in town. El Menchaca had quite a following. Best mexican food I have ever had and I have tried many throughout the country. I miss it.

    Rick

    16 Jan 11 at 10:46 am

  5. I am able to re-create the huge burrito they made called "The Monster" I ate so many of them I pretty much knew what was in them and how one should taste, it took a while but I can make them just as I remember. It cost about four bucks to make one, each one has a half pound of meat in it and I make eight at a time. My family loves them. I now have friends asking me to make them, at a price of course.

    Rick

    21 Jul 11 at 3:51 pm

  6. @Rick--I'm sure there are those who would also like to recreate their own Monster. Could you give us your recipe?

    Mike

    14 Aug 11 at 10:36 pm

  7. Mike, Sorry it took so long for me to check back into this sight. I will post the recipe in a few days for all interested.

    Rick

    31 Mar 12 at 7:22 pm

  8. Okay, here is the Monster recipe. I hope Ted doesn't mind. I have never written this down or tried to tell anyone, so it may take up a good deal of space. To make four Monsters you will need, 3lbs Gorund Beef 80/20. 4-10" Flour Tortillas Burrito Style. 1-28oz can Enchilada Sauce. 4 Packs Taco Seasoning Mix. 1-30oz can "Traditional" Refried Beans, For all of the above (except meat) I like to use LA PREFERIDA or LasPalmas brand. You can find them in the Mexican food section of your local grocery store.

    Rick

    31 Mar 12 at 8:12 pm

  9. Looks like I got kicked off. Ted if you are okay with this I'll try again later.

    Rick

    31 Mar 12 at 8:14 pm

  10. Sure, go for it!

    ted

    31 Mar 12 at 10:35 pm

  11. Thanks, here is the rest of the recipe for Monsters. Old El Paso brand works as well. 8 to 16oz Medium Chedar Cheese grated. 1 small jar sliced Jalapeno peppers. 6 cups water. 1 package "Wholly Guacamole" Mild Guacamole. 8oz Sour Cream. 1 head Iceburg Lettuce. 1 small yellow onion. 1 small Tomato. 12" high wall skillet with lid. 1-9x13x2" glass baking dish. Vegetable spray (Pam).
    Brown ground beef in skillet leaving meat in larger chunks until done, drain excess grease, add 3 and 1/2 packs of Taco Seasoning and 6 cups water (seasoning mix calls for 3/4 cup per pkg, ignore. Use 6 cups water) stir to mix well and simmer partially coverd until most of the water evaporates stirring occasionally, this may take a while. Then add the whole can of Enchilada sauce to the meat and simmer 20 minutes partially covered, stirring occasionally
    While the meat is simmering put refried beans in a sauce pan and warm slightly. Lay the four Tortillas on a large plate one on top of the other. Warm them in the Microwave for 20 to 30 seconds before assembling. Spray glass dish with Pam. Grate cheese. After 20 minutes, and leaving the Encilada Sauce in the meat, it will be watery, spread the first warmed Flour Tortilla with a thin layer of refried beans over the entire surface, then using a large slotted spoon, so liquid will drain from the meat, spread about 1/5 of the meat over the entire surface of the tortilla. The reason 1/5 is because you want to save some of the meat and sauce for later. Sprinkle about 2oz of cheese on top of the meat and then roll the Tortilla up like you would a poster. Pinch or semi fold the very ends to keep meat in then place in the baking dish. Repeat for other 3 tortillas evenly spacing them in the dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the remaining meat evenly over the top of the 4 Monsters and add some of the liquid from the skillet over the tops of the Monsters, I like a fair amount of the sauce myself. The lady that co-owned El Menchaca called this"Xtra Juicey" Add a few oz's of cheese on top if you like. Place on middle rack of oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes checking after 30 minutes. While Monsters are baking put Jalapeno Peppers in a food processor, retaining the liquid from the peppers and whiz them into a semi paste, add a little liquid at a time while processing to create a thick Jalapeno "soup" and put in a covered bowl. Slice the lettuce, using a sharp knife into long thin 1/4" wide strips. Slice onion and dice tomato.
    After the Monsters are done, scoop one out whole onto a plate, spoon some of the sauce from the glass dish over the top. Place a hand full of lettuce next to the Monster. Top lettuce with sour cream on one end, Guacamole on the other end, diced tomatoes and a little onion in the middle. Spoon as much Jalapeno Sauce as you like on top of the Monster, (El Menchaca did not use "Taco Sauce") start at one end and go for it. I hope you guys enjoy this, it took a long time to figure out how to make them.

    Rick

    1 Apr 12 at 5:16 pm

  12. Well I had not made the Monster in the last 8 months or so but after I posted the recipe I could not stand it any longer and made four tonight. As I was making them I realized that after adding the seasoning mix and water it should be 5 cups of water not six, and you should not partially cover the skillet while cooking but actually semi boil the mixture while stirring almost constantly until almost all of the water evaporates until the meat looks like it would be ready to make a taco with before adding the encilada sauce. Be sure and use the slotted spoon to let most of the liquid drain from the meat before putting it on the tortilla.

    Rick

    2 Apr 12 at 8:30 pm

  13. I have photographs of the original El Menchaca building and Marly is still around Columbia. I don't know where Peter (the son) and Arlena (the daughter) are.

    KG

    25 Sep 12 at 7:28 pm

  14. If you send the photo to "closings at columbiaclosings dot cmo", I'll be glad to post it.

    ted

    26 Sep 12 at 12:56 am

  15. I have lived in California for almost 20 years and I have to date never been to a Mexican restaurant here as good as El Menchaca's and I've been to tuns of "authentic" Mexican Restaurants and tacoreas here in California. None has ever compared. El Menchaca was Mexican, his wife was German and their teenage daughter (In the early 80's) was drop dead gorgeous.

    Bob Benson

    17 Apr 13 at 4:59 pm

  16. El Menchaca's was the best Mexican restaurant Columbia has ever had!!!!! We used to pack up the 'crew' from work and go there for lunch at least once a month (and for a few happy hours). I agree with Bob's comments. Especially the one about the daughter....:^). I snarfed up a copy of Rick's recipe for the monster. I will have to try it sometime.....

    Homer

    18 Apr 13 at 1:53 am

  17. One slight correction to his comment. He said "was," but she still is to this day. She's not on my facebook friends list, but we have some friends in common.

    badger

    18 Apr 13 at 5:53 am

  18. @Homer-- I hope you enjoy the home-made Monsters as much as my family does. You may need to tweak the recipe a little. El Menchaca did not roll the burrito up like a poster, as I stated in my recipe, I just like it better that way.

    Rick

    19 Apr 13 at 11:29 am

  19. He was Joe Menchaca ..his wife's name was Marley ..
    their daughter is married and lives in Savannah ..their son, the last I heard, ws in Washngton, DC working as a paralegal ..
    I can only echo the sentiment of others that it WAS the best Mexican food in Columbia ..not even close ..

    Ron Ammons

    14 Jul 13 at 2:57 pm

  20. Arlena is married with family in Savannah, Ga. ..Peter went to DC ..best Mexican food I'VE ever had ..no question ..it was the sauce Joe made ..it was all in that sauce ..

    Ron Ammons

    4 Nov 13 at 12:23 pm

  21. Agreed. We sure miss El Menchaca it was an icon. Never forgot going back after returning to Cola after moving away for a couple of years. Ms. Marley says, usual chimi, no sour? How do you top that for service! Thx for sharing the Monster, will give that a try. Anyone made an attempt at a chimichanga?

    Andy O.

    6 May 14 at 8:40 pm

  22. Agreed. We sure miss El Menchaca it was an icon. Never forgot going back after returning to Cola after moving away for a couple of years. Ms. Marley says, usual chimi, no sour? How do you top that for service! Thx for sharing the Monster, will give that a try. Anyone made an attempt at a chimichanga?

    Andy O.

    6 May 14 at 8:40 pm

  23. I love the monsters from El Menchaca Best ever Thanks so much for the recipe, I'm going to make this tonight. I loved this restaurant we went at least twice a week miss it soooo much!!!

    Carol

    4 Jun 14 at 10:22 am

  24. @Carol- I hope you enjoy the recipe, I must say, the recipe is very close but, for some reason it still does not compare in taste quite the same as El Menchaca's did, maybe it was the atmosphere, I'm not sure.
    But it is close enough to remind you of what was.
    The lettuce with the toppings I mentioned, and the jalapeno pepper sauce are both important to the final outcome.

    Rick

    4 Jun 14 at 11:54 am

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