Click to Print
. . . .

El Dorado

Al Parker - November 3rd, 2008
If you’re hankering for western cooking that’s as authentic as spurs and saddles – like wild boar tacos or fried game hen – there’s no need to book a westbound flight out of Cherry Capital Airport.
John and Tracie Hardy’s new restaurant, The El Dorado, serves up western-style breakfast and lunch, not to be confused with Mexican fare.
“I’ve always had a love for the West,” says John, who does 90 percent of the cooking at the Front Street eatery that opened in June. “So far we’re doing really well. We’ve had an excellent summer and the response has been very positive to our authentic food.”
As an example of how authentic the El Dorado food is, the wild boar used in the restaurant’s most popular menu item, Wild Boar Fry Bread Tacos, is shipped in from the Broken Arrow Ranch in Texas.
Served two-to-an-order on fry bread, instead of the usual corn or flour taco shells, this hearty entrée features free-range boar that’s slow roasted with barbecue sauce and topped with smoked tomatoes, avocado, red onion, lettuce and roasted chipotle salsa for $9.25.

Breakfast choices include one-of-a-kind selections such as The El Dorado Omelet (eggs whipped with a touch of cream and mixed with smoked shrimp, smoked-cheddar grits, smoked tomatoes, fresh spinach and provolone cheese for $7.99) as well as traditional favorites such as Biscuits & Grandma Emma’s Sausage Gravy (homemade buttermilk biscuits topped with whole-hog sausage gravy and two eggs, any style, for $7).
“John loves breakfast, so we wanted to make sure we put that in the forefront of our offerings,” explains Tracie, a Saginaw native. “It’s not an afterthought with us.”
Other breakfast standards include Texas Country Ham Steak & Red-Eye Gravy (a grilled ham steak with two eggs, any style, smoked cheddar grits or potatoes and toast or biscuits for $8.99) and The Boardman Valley (two eggs any style with ranch potatoes or smoked-cheddar grits, toast or biscuits for $5.25.)
You can start lunch with one of their three “Unexpected Beginnings” – Barbecued Wrapped Shrimp, Chorizo-Stuffed Poblano Peppers or Smoked Whitefish Cakes. They range from $6.99 to $7.99.
Each day, John prepares seasonal, from-scratch soups that come with an oven-fresh cheddar and thyme muffin. A cup is $3.25, while a bowl is a buck more.
The El Dorado features three Texas-sized entree salads – Beef and Mixed Greens with grilled onions, Chopped Mixed Greens with smoked turkey, ham and roasted pecans, and an Eldorado Mixed Greens with dried cherries and chopped pecans. They range from $6.95 to $8.95.
Lunch burgers and sandwiches such as The El Dorado Burger Trio (smaller versions of beef, bison and chorizo sausage burgers for $10.50) and the Marinated Vegetable Sandwich (marinated smoked vegetables and seasonal greens on a multigrain roll with mozzarella cheese for $7.75) come with a choice of potato chips, Western-style Baked beans or Painted Desert Coleslaw.
There’s also a tasty Cornmeal-Crusted, Pan-Fried Catfish Sandwich, served on a multi-grain role with white balsamic cucumber relish over a bed of greens for $8.25.

All of The El Dorado’s food is prepared from scratch, using local ingredients when possible. They get bison from Oleson’s Food Stores, pork from Burritt’s Marketand fresh produce from the Traverse City Farmer’s Market, Meadowlark Farms and TLC Tomatoes.
The cozy eatery seats 34 and is done in relaxing tones of wood and stone. Colorful framed western art lines the walls. Tables and booths feature leather-like tops, lending an air of a Texas cattle trail. It’s a quiet, comfortable place that lends itself to conversation.
Opening The El Dorado was a long-sought goal for Cedar residents, John and Tracie who always wanted to have their own restaurant. John graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and paid his dues by preparing meals in Nashville, Grand Rapids and Traverse City. For the past nine years, he’s operated his own catering business.
While John and Tracie work hard in the restaurant, they get a helping hand from their daughters, Jessica, 8, and Julia, 7, who sometimes join them at work.
“They like to help out,” says Tracie. “And they’re really good helpers.”
Located at 149 E. Front Street in Traverse City, The El Ddorado is open Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For takeout orders call (231) 421-3228.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5