Isla Vista’s newest Mexican food joint, Chino’s Rock & Tacos, opened its doors Saturday.
The new Pardall Road eatery boasts a 22-person patio, low prices and free chips and salsa. Owner Javier Cadena said he combined knowledge from his family’s roots in the restaurant industry with his love of music to form Chino’s unique atmosphere.
“We try to create the best of both worlds, fast service with the feeling that you’re still dining out,” Cadena said. “The energy in our place is undeniable and the service goes beyond the counters.”
Customers at Chino’s order food at a counter before sitting down at a table to eat, something Cadena noted is an aspect that most eateries in I.V. lack. Complementary chips and salsa and the presence of a server are other elements of Chino’s customer service, he said.
“I wanted to bring Mexican food back to reality,” he said. “So many restaurants lack the atmosphere no matter how good the food is. Here, when people walk in they feel the energy, taste the food and walk out with a few dollars in their pockets.”
Keeshia Paradise, a third-year business economics major, said she was intrigued by the new restaurant after dining at the State Street location.
“It’s definitely a great restaurant for our age group,” Paradise said. “It’s cheap and the atmosphere is great.”
Chino’s also offers special deals such as $1 Taco Tuesdays and BRC Wednesdays, which include $2 bean, rice and cheese burritos and $1 beers.
“When you pay $12 for a burrito and a soda, you leave saying ‘ouch,’ but with our prices and our healthier alternatives, you don’t get that heavy, greasy feeling, nor do you pay an arm and a leg,” Cadena said.
Third-year philosophy major Armando Guerrero agreed that the prices were a perk of the restaurant.
“It’s cheap and it’s good — that always makes for a good combo,” Guerro said.
In addition to being concerned about costs to students, Cadena said Chino’s is concerned about costs to the environment. Chino’s utilizes “green” methods such as less wasteful packaging and water conservation in the kitchen. The eatery has also designated every Monday night as a fundraiser for community organizations.
“We want to help out with the issues people care about,” Cadena said. “If our community helps us succeed, why not give back?”
Although there are already a huge number of restaurants in the area, Grant Robertson — owner of the recently established Dogtown — said there is enough variety in I.V. that competition will not be a factor.
“I don’t see it as competitive,” Robertson said. “I have been counting down the days until they open up, and I only see it as beneficial for our corner. If you are unique and bring something to the community that doesn’t have an outlet, then you can succeed.”
Despite the number of other Mexican dining choices, students such as Guerrero said they are enthusiastic about the new option.
“It makes a nice alternative to Freebirds and other Mexican restaurants around here,” Guerro said.