I think there are 3 kinds of Mexican food places in California, taco trucks or stands, Mexican-American restaurants, and specialty regional Mexican restaurants more similar to the food that would be served in Mexico. El Jardin is the Mexican American variety.
Chips and salsa are automatically given when I sit down. The chips are a mix of fried corn and flour tortillas. I’m partial to corn 99 out of 100 times, and when I occasionally get tricked by a fried flour tortilla chip, I’m a little bugged because fried flour tortillas always taste a little too greasy for me or just not crunchy enough. The salsa that came with the chips is weak, too much tomato sauce.
I ordered two tacos carnitas they came with almost every fixin I could get, piled high (think American Super Size). Beans and rice came with the meal and as usual, if they’re there, I’ll try them. Beans = fine. Rice = didn’t care because I’d rather eat corn chips. Good overall flavor to the tacos and served on regular corn tortillas. But these things are huge and certainly a mess to eat. Stuff is all over the plate and not in the taco, where I’d like it to be. The side of salsa that came with the tacos is different and much better than the salsa that came with my tortilla chips. While each bite is a good one, there wasn’t a lot of fat detected on my carnitas but solidly salty, which translates into a tad dry for me. Luckily, there is a half an avocado on each taco to lubricate the meat. The final verdict? I probably would have saved 20 minutes, $7 dollars, and been more satisfied finding two carnitas tacos at a truck somewhere else in Manteca, probably near a gas station.
El Jardin is a good Mexican American restaurant to bring the family, have a blended margarita, eat a lot of chips, and probably have leftovers if you’re into that sort of thing, but I’d rather have a couple well-balanced tacos out of a truck.