by Nick Anis
An age old phrase, a term used to depict complete
entirety, or just an ironic metaphor, a restaurant in Diamond Bar is
exactly what you get when it comes to taste, “The Whole Enchilada.”
Located in the Ralph's and Bank of America center at Grand Avenue
and Diamond Bar Boulevard, to many people, The Whole Enchilada is like a
family member or a close friend. Their
contributions to our local cities and their friendliness towards our
schools and service clubs have earned them a special place in our
For the past fifteen years, the restaurant has been
serving homemade, fresh, and delicious Mexican food.
This place is fantastic, which explains why the restaurant does a
brisk business for both lunch and dinner and has so many regular
customers. People just keep coming back, even when they move out of
All of The Whole Enchilada's recipes were developed
over a decade and a half ago by Miguel (head cook) and Gil Villavicencio
(cousin and co-owner). Gil is
quick to point out “Our patrons really like these recipes and we’ve
carefully preserved them over the years.”
The Whole Enchilada is the kind of restaurant you can
count on. According to Gil “We carefully add new items and announce
them on table tents, but we keep the menu consistent to make sure our
patrons are assured an enjoyable dining experience.”
Gil also points out that “The Whole Enchilada is not my restaurant –
it’s my family’s. We love each other, and by caring about each other and
working together, we have built a wonderful business.”
Gil's brother, Ruben, is quite an accomplished restaurateur and has
done an impressive job building the company (two other Whole Enchilada's
as well as 16 Millie's Restaurants) into a highly successful family-owned
regional restaurant chain with locations from Ventura to El Centro.
The Whole Enchilada has an “A” rating from the
Health Department; the kitchen and the dining area are well maintained and
spotless. The sea foam
colored leather booths are among the most comfortable you will find.
There is an attractive contemporary décor, pleasant music, and the
meals are nicely presented. The
restaurant is fully air-conditioned and also has breezy ceiling fans.
There are 20 booths and about a dozen tables and arm-backed chairs,
which are ideal for larger groups; lots of nice flowering potted plants,
pottery, and art. There are
wall-mounted color televisions, and a good-sized pleasant lobby area where
you can relax while your table is being prepared.
While you're waiting, you may order libations, such as a soft
drinks, ice cold beer (bottled or on tap), chilled wine, or a delicious
blended frozen cocktail from the full service bar.
The first thing you’ll notice after you start
reading the menu is that The Whole Enchilada has an extensive carte du
jour (menu) with nearly 100 delicious items to choose from including
several unique specialties. Most patrons opt for the combinations which come with a
choice of 1-3 entrées, fresh cooked rice, and freshly prepared refried
beans topped with jack and cheddar cheese finished in the broiler, and
promptly delivered to your table fresh and delicious and … HOT (when
your server says “careful, this plate is hot,” take their word for
A different lunch special is offered every weekday
for only $4.95. Combinations,
which are served anytime, range from $5.59 to $9.29.
There are six kid's meals to choose from for only $3.19 including a
soft drink. Soft drink
refills for adults and kids are FREE.
If you get a combo punch card you get your tenth combination meal
FREE (including a beverage).
The Ruben Special ($5.59 or $6.29 with rice) is a
huge flour tortilla filled with shredded chicken or beef, refried beans,
deep-fried in light vegetable oil, then covered with cousin Miguel's
delicious homemade and slightly more spicy green sauce and jack and
cheddar cheese, served with a heaping side portion of guacamole and sour
The seafood Enchilada ($7.99) is 2 corn tortillas
filled with delicious seasoned seafood and shrimp, covered with Miguel's
delicious homemade and slightly milder red enchilada sauce.
Everything is made fresh on the premises – even the
chips and salsa! When you sit
down to eat, almost immediately you’re presented with a heaping
bottomless basket of fresh homemade and hot chips and an oversized ramekin
of chilled salsa. The produce is also quite fresh and you'll really notice the
difference when you try one of the delicious tostada salads or experience
the spectacular homemade salsa.
The Whole Enchilada Restaurant's salsa is kept and
served WELL CHILLED to maintain it's freshness and flavor and is perfect
for dipping because it coats your hot fresh chip.
BUT …. It's also chock full of delicious fresh vegetables
including vine-ripened tomatoes, large and firm sweet onions, cilantro,
jalapeno and green chilies, and spices (all fresh).
No wonder The Whole Enchilada makes one (and sometimes two)
20-gallon batches of the delightful mixture EVERY DAY.
It's DELICIOUS! If you
DARE, you can ask for the Mucho Caliente (very hot) salsa, which is
spicier, much spicier. There
are also 120 to 250 pounds of chips prepared fresh on the premises every
day. The chips are a
consistent size, shape, and thickness, and they are fried on the premises
every morning in fresh 400-degree light vegetable oil.
These chips are very tasty, and they are also very addicting, which
is why most of the patrons have two or more heaping baskets of them
(fortunately they’re served complimentary with all meals).
Both flour and corn tortillas are served hot and
fresh off the grill in warmers or wrapped in foil with butter on the side.
There are also medium and extra grande flower tortillas for
burritos, and for tostadas, which are also shaped and fried (on premises),
to a golden crispness in light vegetable oil.
The restaurant becomes quite busy during lunch and
dinner (especially on Friday and Saturday nights), but the 10-minute wait
flies by because the service is very good and the cooking staff really
knows their stuff. When the kitchen is busy there are 4 highly experienced cooks
and several helpers. Each is
trained to work all stations, which insures everyone on the team always
knows what they’re doing. The
head cook, Jorge (George) who is originally from a suburb of Guadalajara,
Mexico, has been there since the place opened, 15 years ago.
When the server brings your table’s order into the kitchen, the
first thing the cooks do is check the order to make sure there are no
mistakes. Then all the meals
for your table are prepared so that they can be served hot and fresh for
an enjoyable dining experience.
Portion sizes are generous and consistent and each
plate is nicely garnished. It's a real kick seeing the food arrive piping
hot and looking as though it’s ready to be photographed for a cookbook.
In the case of the sizzling fajitas, besides looking gorgeous, you
can also hear them sizzle and smell the delightful aroma as this dish
finishes cooking while making it's brisk journey from the kitchen to your
table in a very hot cast iron skillet-serving dish.
This skillet is the hottest plate in the house, but it's for
serving, not eating, and it comes cradled in hard wood and is accompanied
with a room temperature serving ceramic plate that has rice, beans, and
pico de gallo (chopped onions, tomatoes, and cilantro).
There's something on the menu for everyone.
Delicious combination platters with tacos, enchiladas, taquitos,
chili rellenos, tomalias, and tostadas.
Tempting entrées like chimichangas, fajitas, burritos, tacos,
enchiladas, and platillos de huevos.
And Favoritos de la casa (House Specialties) like carnitas, chile
Colorado, carne asada, camarones picado, chile verde, and steak or chicken
picado. If you like fish, try
the fish and shrimp tacos, seafood burritos, and shrimp fajitas.
And if you’re a vegetarian, the Whole Enchilada has a wide
assortment of vegetarian dishes. During the holidays you can order
homemade tamales to enjoy at home, and during Halloween there's a “guess
the weight of the pumpkin” contest.
When your bill arrives, it comes accompanied by a
plate of crispy tortillas coated with cinnamon and sugar and some mints.
But, if you want a more luscious desert, don't fret, The Whole
Enchilada also has some great postres (desserts).
Try the deep fried ice cream ($2.59) which is flash frozen ice
cream dipped in hot light vegetable oil to form crispy outside and soft
creamy luscious inside, and served with strawberry or chocolate topping
and fresh whipped cream; it's D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!!
Or try The Rio Grande Mud Pie ($2.69), coffee ice cream, swirled
with chocolate sauce throughout and layered on a dark cookie crust,
covered with a whipped topping, shaved chocolate and sliced almonds. Or for a more traditional Mexican dessert, try The Whole
Enchilada's homemade Mexican Flan ($1.99) served like a large slice of
The Whole Enchilada also offers food to go and
catering for special occasions. The
restaurant can handle catering for a small group to several hundred.
The restaurant provides “food only” or “full service”
including heated chafing dishes, servers, and clean up.
If you like, you can have generous portions of fresh hot chips and
chilled fresh homemade salsa first, so you can serve it to your guests
before the rest of the catered meal arrives.
Customer service is very important at the Whole
Enchilada; they treat all their patrons like family.
The restaurant is a popular place to celebrate a birthday because
patrons are donned with a colorful and festive sombrero and (with the
beautiful backdrop of the restaurant's picturesque décor) a picture is
taken while a special Whole Enchilada version of Happy Birthday is sung by
a group of the staff. The
celebrant is also treated to a complete meal including beverage and
Dedicated General Manager and co-owner, Gil
Villavicencio, works 5-6 days a week, and you can see Gil roaming the
restaurant, greeting customers, making drinks, and helping servers.
The Whole Enchilada is a good corporate citizen too.
The restaurant sponsors the DBIA, Youth Sports, Miss Diamond Bar
Pageant, Diamond Bar Friends of the Library, Diamond Bar Sister City and
other community events and organizations.
Another wonderful policy of The Whole Enchilada is hiring many high
school and college students, which helps these students earn money for
their education. In spite of
having several students working as hosts, busing, and serving, the staff
(which averages about 30), is extremely well trained.
The manager, Sandy, has been there 14 years. Sandy
is very easy to recognize because she is tall, thin, and has striking
blonde hair. Sandy, who is a
working mom, started as a server, and has done most of the jobs in the
restaurant. She is always
pleasant and always busy, and she is a superb bartender.
For pleasant surroundings, excellent food prepared
and served by well-trained, friendly, and courteous staff, why not go for
(and to) The Whole Enchilada in Diamond Bar!
A few words of warning: don't eat too many chips because you will
want to leave room for the other delicious food.
Don't test the hot plates to see if they are hot.
And, most important, don't expect to leave hungry, because you
The Whole Enchilada Restaurant & Catering
1114 Diamond Bar Boulevard
Diamond Bar, Ca 91765
Phone: 909-861-5340 909-861-5288
Nick Anis is a food, wine, and travel
and technology writer with 24 books in print. Nick’s beats include snow
and water sports, and vacation destinations. Nick can be reached by email