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Posted in Food & Wine, Get to Know Your Neighbors, HH LIFESTYLE, Resident Endeavors

Resident Endeavors: El Patron

The Biz:
El Patron Mexican Restaurant, Tarzana

The Proprietors:
David and Pam Casselman


It’s widely known that the restaurant business is not for the faint of heart. Nonetheless, when a building David Casselman co-owned needed a new restaurateur tenant, he decided to give it a go himself. And while Tarzana may seem just a bit off the radar of local Hidden Hills dining options, a short 10 minute ride to Reseda Boulevard, just off the 101, will bring you to a bright and festive culinary experience that you and your family will continue to crave.

Here’s the roundup on El Patron from Owner and Hidden Hills Resident, David Casselman:

What is the best compliment/feedback you’ve ever gotten about El Patron?

It never gets old hearing that people really love the atmosphere or the friendly attitude we try to bring to our service every day. But, nothing is better than taking a risk on some new creation, like our Pina al Pastor, and hearing the oohs and ahs of approval. That is just too good.

What is the crowd favorite there in terms of:

It’s funny how that works. At the bar, people love one thing, like Chicken Wings or Mexican Pizza. But, at the tables, they seem to gravitate toward our Esquites (grilled fresh corn with our “secret sauce”) or Fried Calamari. Bar or table, however, Nachos are always popular.
Like the range of people in general, we offer many “favorites.” In sheer numbers, our burritos and custom tacos are the most popular. In part that is because you can mix and match our unique delicious tacos. They are all served on flour and corn tortillas (you can watch being made) and range from lobster claw with fresh mango, to an entire range of chicken, beef, pork and fish creations that will make your mouth water. People also seem to love our unique quesadillas: like Surf and Turf; Ghost Pepper; Truffle/Mushroom, Philly Cheese Steak; Tempura Tilapia, and more. At the same time, meat eaters often rave about our Rib Eye Carne Asada, while an entirely different group of people loves our significant range of vegetarian and vegan options. In short, taste is in the “mouth of the beholder” and we love offering classics and customized dishes whenever possible to make our patrons happy.
Margaritas are by far the most popular! The most asked for margarita is our house special El Jeffe, which is a delicious Mango margarita with chile pepper on the rim. But, there are so many unique and delicious different options, naming just a few is impossible to do the bar justice. We love experimenting and creating new and irresistible options. With a wide range of tequilas, mezcals and draft beer, the bar is the most popular part of the restaurant during games and events. With a dozen televisions and an open air, covered patio on Reseda Boulevard, many people like to kick back and try a few different options. People love the bar!
If you have a sweet tooth, we are very proud of our homemade Churros with Toasted Marshmallow ice cream; our homemade Flan; and our delicious Oreo Churros.

Anything special that should be noted about the ingredients you use?

We go out of our way to use only fresh ingredients where possible. You can taste the difference. My family and friends eat there. We want to love it and be proud of it. So, we do our very best to offer delicious options, presented in the best possible way.

And about all those taps behind the bar?

We are always experimenting. We offer all the classic draft beers. But we have been known to experiment with local craft beers and breweries. Again, we want to offer what people want to drink. So, we welcome comments and suggestions. There is a good chance that if we don’t have your favorite the first time you come in, if you let us know, it will be there the next time you “come home, to El Patron.”

What has surprised you most about having a restaurant?

It really is as difficult as people say to make a profit in the restaurant business. You better love what you are doing, because it is not for the faint of heart or wallet. At the same time, however, if you enjoy making people happy (and can take criticism from all quarters) it is like no other line of work. It is much more exciting and fun than I expected, offering endless opportunities to experiment and explore ways to improve on classic dishes and create new and wonderful offerings. The goal has become to find (commercially successful) ways to touch the palates and hearts of our friends /patrons. I did not see that coming.

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