El Manzanillo Mexican Grill

Written By: William Powell

El Manzanillo Mexican Grill, tucked away in a corner of the Dill’s Food City shopping center in Royston, is hiding in plain sight. Many of the customers refer to El Manzanillo as a gem of a Mexican restaurant. Since 2007, Pepe Montes, his brother, Reuben, and sister, Jessica, along with two cousins, have been serving good food to the community and surrounding areas.

This family-run restaurant started as a dream that Pepe had while working at a restaurant in North Carolina. He thought he would like to come to Georgia and open his own restaurant. He considered several towns but decided that Royston would be ideal for his restaurant. With the strong support of family members, his dream came true. After 12 years the restaurant remains a favorite for many in the Northeast Georgia area.

The name El Manzanillo was chosen, as the port city of Manzanillo is a favorite vacation resort for Pepe and thousands of other Mexicans. Manzanillo is said to be the sailfish capital of the world and is the host city for many international fishing competitions. 

Pepe is from Guanajuato in central Mexico, northwest of Mexico City. He has been in the United States for 20 years. Pepe and his family take pride in serving authentic Mexican dishes, as well as what has come to be known as Tex-Mex cuisine. 

Stepping into El Manzanillo, customers are greeted by the friendly staff. The mood of the restaurant is enhanced by bright red walls and the attractive artwork selected by Pepe and his sister, Jessica. 

There is an extensive menu. Among the authentic meals served are la cinta, the carne asada, and sopa de pollo de la casa (chicken soup). Popular Tex-Mex dishes include fajitas and burritos.

Authentic Mexican la cinta consists of pork chunks with salsa verde and steak strips with salsa ranchera served with two cheese quesadillas, avocado and fresh jalapeños. Carne asada has thin cuts of rib-eye served with rice, beans, lettuce, tomato, onions, avocados and jalapeños. The chicken soup is made with chicken, avocados, pico de gallo and rice along with authentic Mexican seasonings.

Popular Tex-Mex dishes include several fajitas containing chicken, steak or shrimp. The popular Texas fajitas combine chicken and steak along with peppers and onions and, as with the other fajitas, are served with flour tortillas and guacamole. 

Burritos are also popular at El Manzanillo. These burritos include the Burrito California, the Burrito Mexicano and the Burrito Tejano, which are 12-inch tortillas heaped with traditional ingredients and treated to the restaurant’s special touches.

In addition, the fresh guacamole is always a favorite of customers. This chunky treat is made from fresh avocados, tomatoes, crispy red onion and fiery jalapeños diced and mixed with pungent cilantro and lime juice.

The well-liked Arroz Tex-Mex is made with rice, grilled chicken, shrimp, steak and grilled vegetables topped with cheese sauce. Chori pollo is made with strips of chicken grilled with onions and chorizo (pork sausage). It is topped with cheese sauce and comes with rice and beans and flour tortillas. Molcajete is carne asada, Mexican sausage, grilled chicken, white cheese, banana peppers, Cambray onions and avocado topped with salsa verde and served with one cheese quesadilla, rice, beans, tortillas and sour cream. All of these dishes are both popular and delicious.

Traditional beverages, such as soft drinks and iced tea, are served along with a variety of Mexican beer and wine. Specialty drinks include a jumbo orange margarita and the Montes Michelada margarita, which is Pepe’s own creation.

Dessert selections include cheesecake, a three-layer cake and ice cream. The signature dessert is a flan made by Jessica, and it is a final tasty touch to a delicious Mexican meal.

Roystonians know about El Manzanillo and have been faithful customers for years, but folks from other areas may not know about this encantador (delightful) restaurant. Be sure to make the drive to enjoy some of the best Mexican food you will ever eat.

El Manzanillo

Open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.

737 Cook St.




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