Three words. Prime. Rib. Tacos.
They're enough to make me get in my car and drive to Thornton on my lunch break.
The prime rib is made on the premises and sliced-to-order by chef and owner Val Manzo Jr. The seasoning - very flavorful - is his secret. The corn tortillas are cooked just right, crispy but still soft. They, too, are made fresh daily by Val Manzo Jr. First, the meat is layered in a taco shell and then comes the toppings - onions, grated cheese, tomato, lettuce and freshly made guacamole.
"You taste everything that ges into the food," Manzo said.
He's completely right.
They're simple, served with refried beans and Spanish rice on a paper plate. But they are well worth the short, scenic drive.
This new Mexican restaurant is Manzo's - not Mango's, as some people think after taking too-quick of a glance at the script restaurant logo that is Manzo's father's signature.
A Walnut Grove resident and former butcher, Manzo, recently opened the only restaurant in Thornton. Located almost across the street from the Thornton Fire Departmetnt on Thornton Road, the old building has been completely renovated into a modern and chic eatery for Mexican cuisine. Umbrellas covers small tables on the outdoor patio area. Inside, tables are topped with Brazillian granite. The walls light up with the afternoon sun sneaking in through two large front windows. Behind the counter, the kitchen is open, where guests can watch Manzo make the day's specials.
Manzo's offers traditional Mexican favorites. When it comes to quality control, Manzo doesn't allow any cans in his restaurant.
"We try to take it back a notch. Everything is fresh," he said. "It's like a taste of home."
The menu is a white board with numbered menu items, and it changes often, depending on ingredients and what Manzo has in mind.
For lunch, there are asada burritos with rice and beans ($5.79), hamburgers and fries ($5.49) and crispy chicken tostadas ($4.99). You can get two sopas with beans and rice for $5.29 or two fish patties or a cheese quesadilla.
Dinner varies too. The prime rib tacos (two for $9.98) with rice and beans is already a favorite. Chili verde ($6.99), pork enchiladas ($7.49) and pork ribs ($6.49) are also a number of options that are available at Manzo's.
Still in the early stages of opening the restaurant, Manzo already has plans to hold wine events and make his restaurant a location for social events.
One thing that might entice Lodians to travel through the vineyards to Thornton might be his Mexican soups coming soon, including the a shrimp stew served over steamed rice.
To that, Manzo has two words - "Oh, man."
Restaurant At A Glance
Where: Thornton Road in Thornton
Specialties: Mexican dishes
Hours: Closed Monday and Tuesday. Open 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday