A Mixed Bag at El Pobre: A Review of Waynesville's Local Mexican Restaurant


As I walked into El Pobre, located in the heart of Waynesville, NC, I was greeted with a warm smile by the staff. Despite their welcoming demeanor, it was clear that they were struggling to keep up with the demands of the restaurant. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many businesses, and El Pobre is no exception. With a reduced staff and slower business, the restaurant is facing an uphill battle to regain its footing.


The ambiance was cozy and intimate, with traditional Mexican decor and lively music setting the tone for a festive dining experience. However, the atmosphere was somewhat marred by the obvious stress and overwhelm of the staff. Our server was friendly and attentive, but it was clear that they were stretched thin, juggling multiple tables and responsibilities.


The service was slow, and it took some time for our orders to be taken and our food to arrive. While I understand that the staff was working hard to keep up, the wait times were longer than expected, and the service felt somewhat disjointed. It was clear that the staff was doing their best, but they were simply overwhelmed.


Despite the slow service, the food was a highlight of the experience. I ordered the carne asada tacos, which were cooked to perfection and bursting with flavor. The meat was tender and juicy, and the fresh cilantro and lime added a bright and tangy note to the dish. The portion size was generous, and I left feeling satisfied but not stuffed. The tacos were served in a to-go container, which was a bit of a letdown. While I understand that this may be a necessary measure during the pandemic, it detracted from the overall dining experience.


My companion's chicken quesadilla was also a hit, with crispy tortillas and a creamy, cheesy filling. The flavors were rich and well-balanced, and the dish was devoured in short order. The quesadilla was also served in a to-go container, which was a bit of a disappointment.


Here's where things get a bit sticky. While the food was delicious, the prices at El Pobre are somewhat steep, especially considering the portion sizes and the fact that the meals are served in to-go dishes. A similar meal at other local Mexican restaurants would likely cost less overall, and the value for the price was not entirely clear. In fact, I would argue that the prices are a major stumbling block for El Pobre. With the current market conditions and the competition from other local restaurants, it's difficult to justify the higher prices. Unless they adjust their pricing strategy, it may be challenging for the restaurant to attract and retain customers.


Overall, my experience at El Pobre was a mixed bag. While the food was delicious and the staff was friendly, the slow service, high prices, and to-go dishes detracted from the overall experience. I would give El Pobre a 3.5-star rating, with the hope that they will address these issues and regain their footing in the local market.


To regain customers and stay competitive, I would suggest that El Pobre consider adjusting their prices to be more in line with local market conditions. They should also focus on building a loyal customer base through promotions and loyalty programs. Additionally, they may want to consider switching to traditional plates and utensils instead of to-go dishes, as this would greatly improve the overall dining experience.


With these changes, I believe that El Pobre could once again become a thriving and beloved member of the Waynesville community. The food is certainly good enough to warrant a return visit, but the prices and service need to be adjusted to meet the current market conditions.


As I left the restaurant, I couldn't help but feel a sense of hope for El Pobre. With a few tweaks and adjustments, this restaurant could be a real gem in the heart of Waynesville. Until then, I would recommend it to foodies looking for authentic Mexican cuisine, but with the caveat that the prices may be a bit steep.


In conclusion, El Pobre has the potential to be a fantastic restaurant, but it needs to address its pricing and service issues to stay competitive in the local market. With a few changes, I have no doubt that it could become a beloved institution in Waynesville. Until then, I would give it a solid 3.5 stars, with the hope that it will continue to improve and thrive.


Have you eaten here? What are your opinions? Comment below! 


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