I live in a town, not even an official “city” in Arizona. You may have heard of it, Fountain Hills is the name. This is a very nice community. Very safe, a great place to raise your kids. It has a very large retirement and snowbird crowd and absolutely ZERO restaurants worth while to eat at. When I heard that El Encanto, (a successful restaurant 20 years in the making in Cave Creek) was opening an eatery in Fountain Hills, I thought..”finally something we can actually enjoy in Fountain Hills!!!”
We went here for my husband’s birthday in January this year with a party of 10 and we got excellent service and every single one of us liked our food. On the first trip my only criticism was that the margaritas were too small and the price was a tad too much for what you get. After our second trip I still stick to my original observation. The patio and front of the restaurant is very roomy and comfortable. If you end up in the back “hallway” as I like to call it, you are very close to the next table and to me it seems very claustrophobic.
Here’s a few very positive things I have to say about El Encanto: When you get to the table you get a choice of three salsas: mild, salsa verde, and a fire roasted hot salsa which is my favorite. I like that they give you a variety and their salsa is excellent..we’ll speak of the chips later. Their “Cocktail de camerones” ($10.95) made me feel like I was in Rocky Point, it tasted so authentic. The shrimp was plenty and the crunchy cucumber and soft avacado tasted soo good in the perfectly seasoned cold tomato broth. My other favorite thing about this place is that they offer more than one kind of bean and more than one kind of rice. If you’re not in the mood for refried beans, just ask for the black beans and if you’re not a fan of the traditional Mexican rice, get the corn rice, it is very good.
Something I’m not diggin is their tortilla chips. Maybe it was just an off night when we went in, but they were super dry and tasted like cardboard. If I am at an authentic Mexican restaurant I really expect hot, fresh, salted chips that you can tell were made right away or at least in the last hour or so. Another thing I was underwhelmed by was their desserts. They used store bought chocolate chip mint ice cream to accompany their chocolate chimis and their fried ice cream was begging for some hot fudge or chocolate sauce.
Here’s a list of our entrees for the second trip, Fajita taco salad ($9.95), Fish tacos ($11.95), Chile Relleno con Pollo ($14.95), and Lamb Barbacoa ($16.95). Without a doubt the standout dish of the evening was the Lamb Barbacoa that my dad ordered, that I drooled over for the rest of my dinner. I really enjoyed my Chile Relleno, but his lamb was so delicious. The sauce that is was obviously slowly simmered in for hours had the perfect heat, spice wise, and just a nice rich flavor. The lamb was super tender and went well in soft tortilla with the black beans.
I wasn’t super impressed with their desserts…maybe one of us should have ordered the flan, but their lemon meringue custard was the table favorite. It had a rich, creamy lemony filling in a graham cracker cup with spiky meringue on top. I had maybe two bites of my deep fried ice cream…wasn’t liking the water strawberry mixture they put over top, wish they would have offered a choice of chocolate sauce, that may have been good. For the price we paid for four people and three courses I should have been sitting at a fine dining restaurant..not a Mexican restaurant. I’m sure we will return, but maybe happy hour would be a better fit??
El Encanto de la Fuente
11044 N Saguaro Blvd
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268