Lodi has a lot of Mexican restaurants, there is no denying that. However, there is Mexican food, and then there's Mexican food done right. And, when a cook has 28 years of experience, it's going to be "done right."
Jose Aguilar has used his 28 years of cooking to perfect his cooking craft and make the dining experience at El Pajaro restaurant as comforting and delicious as a homecooked meal.
Aguilar began cooking for El Pajaro in 1978. In 1999 he bought the restaurant with his wife, Modesta. His dedication to his business and his customers shows in every item Aguilar cooks.
Every morning, at 6 a.m., Aguilar begins his day by making flour tortillas from scratch. He doesn't take vacation, and he prepares every meal as if it's his first.
"My favorite part is making the customers smile," Aguilar said. "I'm never bored, and they love the food. That's why people come back."
The menu at El Pajaro is packed with all the classics, along with many different specialty items.
If you're looking for something other than a taco, burrito or enchilada, try the Caldo de Rez, El Pajaro's homemade beef soup, filled with squash, carrots, potatoes and various spices, $6.25.
Of course, if it is the classic Mexican fare you're starved for, you may be a little overwhelmed by the selection of different burritos and enchiladas alone. Enchiladas can be filled with your choice of beef, pork, chicken or just cheese and a dinner is only $6.99.
If you're really hungry, go for the Super Burrito. Filled with beans, meat - your choice - and lettuce, and topped with guacamole, sour cream, tomatoes and cheese, it will take care of the biggest of appetites in a single bound.
When it comes to service, El Pajaro prides itself in some of the best staff around. Courteous and attentive, they will make you feel at home and keep you satisfied.
Lunchtime doesn't have to be a rush, as they will have your food served up quick and hot. While you wait, the tortilla chips and salsa won't run out. If corn tortilla chips aren't to your liking, give the flour tortilla chips a try. They will melt on your tongue and leave you smiling.
A tight budget isn't a concern either. Lunch specials start at just $3.75. For a little more, the beef or chicken guacamole tostada lunch fills your stomach and doesn't hurt the wallet.
When it comes to truly tasty stuff, give the chile relleno a try. There's nothing quite as good as cheese and chiles batter-dipped and deep-fried.
So what's the real difference with El Pajaro?
"We're always the same," Aguilar said. "We never change." It's that consistency and dedication to customer satisfaction that keeps people coming back.
Restaurant at a glanceWhat: El Pajaro
Where: 212 S. School St.
House Specialties: Lunch Special, $3.75; Quesadillas, $3.99.
Price Range: Children's specials, $4.25; Dinners, $6.99 through $9.45.
Hours Of Operation: 11 a.m.-9 p.m., seven days a week.