Athens’ infamous Court Street recently welcomed its newest restaurant: El Tenampa. Opened in April 2021, El Tenampa shares owners with other Athens-based Mexican restaurants, such as Gran Ranchero on East State Street.
After a long day of classes, I rounded up a group of friends and decided to try El Tenampa for dinner. From the moment we walked in, we recognized the welcoming atmosphere that made us feel like we were sitting down for a family meal.
The meal began with complimentary chips and mild salsa. We quickly ate four baskets of chips while waiting for our food, making it a great appetizer before dinner.
We ordered queso without hesitation. Let me say: it was a huge hit. It is a low price of $3.39.
Tim Conway, a sophomore studying exercise physiology, perfectly summed up the taste.
"If you're looking for a blending of spice, warmth and cheese, the queso is to die for," Conway said. "If you don't get the queso, you're doing it wrong."
The El Tenampa combo meals were a popular order at the table, allowing everyone to try various foods for a low price. Ranging from about $9 to $11, guests can choose from different combinations of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas and chalupas.
Bennett Snyder, a sophomore studying journalism, was particularly impressed by the combo deal but also made a realization.
"The burritos come out beautifully,” Snyder said. “If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, it’s the combo option.”
“Eating the taco first is a must! If you get a combo involving tacos, you must eat it first or it’ll get soggy” Snyder continued. “I ordered ground beef, shredded chicken and steak. I can confidently say the steak is some of the best I've ever had from a Mexican restaurant.”
Samantha Kruse, a sophomore studying strategic communication, differed from Snyder on her opinion of the meat options.
"The chicken enchilada was by far the best out of the three,” Kruse said. “Matching it with queso is amazing, so be sure to save some for the meal.”
Wesley Minke, a sophomore studying journalism, ordered the burrito grande. The burrito grande is your choice of grilled chicken or beef, rice, beans, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo. It was the meal with the prettiest presentation.
"The burrito was very good," Minke said. "I like how it has a little bit of everything. It felt like a fiesta in my belly."
Alice Hesmondhalgh, a sophomore studying early childhood education, had a few notable critiques.
"The enchilada and quesadilla were rather small," Hesmondhalgh said. "The rice was just OK. It was a bit dry or over-cooked.”
This new addition to Court Street is a great way to take a break from the dining halls or your usual Chipotle run. Whatever you do, order the queso.
El Tenampa is located at 21 S. Court St. To learn more and see its complete menu, check out El Tenampa’s Facebook page.