Restaurant review: Chino Bandido

Chino Bandido

It’s hard to think of a Valley restaurant with a more unusual menu than Chino Bandido’s.

I mean, we have plenty of Mexican restaurants, and lots of Chinese ones. Even a few Caribbean places.

But how many Mexican-Chinese-Caribbean fusion restaurants have you been to?

If you’ve never heard of Chino Bandido, I’m not surprised. The Chandler location (an offshoot of the north Phoenix original) opened in 2005, but the restaurant is fairly well-hidden southeast of the intersection of Chandler Boulvard and Dobson Road.

It’s hardly a small place, though. At 6,000 square feet, it’s the size of a warehouse and has a décor to match, including a concrete floor and a high ceiling with open ductwork.

The furnishings are low-budget: Community-style seating is provided at six- and eight-person folding tables with lightweight polyethylene tops. As you might expect, the atmosphere is ultra-casual and very family-friendly.

Chino BandidoThe menu, posted above the cash register where you place your order, lists just 14 items, ranging from carnitas to egg foo yung to jerk chicken. For sides, there are five varieties of rice and two kinds of beans

You can order any of the 14 main items in a burrito ($3.50), on a crispy quesadilla ($4.50) or with a bowl of rice ($5.95 for white, $6.74 for fried).

Most people, however, opt for a two-item combo bowl with rice and beans ($7.25 or $8). For no extra charge, you can get either or both of your items in a burrito or quesadilla.

Yes, if you want an egg foo yung burrito, this is your place.

Jade chicken (deep-fried pieces with a spicy-sweet sauce) and emerald chicken (grilled and skinless with a ginger-onion sauce) are Chino Bandido’s signature items, and I have plenty of friends who rave about both. Personally, though, I’m not overly fond of either.

My standard order — and I’ve been going to Chino’s Chandler location regularly since it opened — is teriyaki chicken (white-meat slices with a thick sauce) and a carnitas (slow-roasted pork) burrito.

I also like the seasoned jerk chicken, which can be very spicy some days, but I typically get my fix by choosing the jerk-fried rice as a side. I also like the Cuban black beans, although they’re not really Cuban and have the texture of refried beans.

Chino BandidoI have a love-hate relationship with the chile relleno (pictured above). It has a heavy, cornflake-like breading that can be very greasy. On the other hand, it’s filled with enough hot, oozing cheese to make a old shoe fairly palatable.

As a bonus, each combo bowl comes with a free cookie: a fresh-baked, thick Snickerdoodle bigger than the palm of your hand. Every other weekend, there’s a chocolate version called a “Volcano” (pictured at right).

No matter what you order, you get a lot of food. The “bowls” are takeout-ready aluminum containers, about two inches deep. With a two-item combo, expect to get about two cups of each item, plus two cups of beans and two cups of rice.

When you’ve eaten your fill, just fasten on one of the cardboard lids, available by the self-serve soda machines, and you likely will have a good-sized lunch for the next day.

Chino Bandido
Where: 1825 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler
Open: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Prices: Burrito $3.50, quesadilla $4.50, one-item bowl with rice $5.95-$6.74, two-item bowl with rice and beans $7.25-$8.
Info: (480) 889-5990 or chinobandido.com

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7 Responses to Restaurant review: Chino Bandido

  1. FB says:

    Good one Jess!! CB is a great place to eat and in this economy a real bargain!

  2. Bob Abooey says:

    This place was featured on DDD a while back. I couldn’t sell the old lady on trying it out then, but I think that volcano cookie might just do it this time. Thanks for the info Jess.
    Cheers

  3. John says:

    first time writer and I like your articles Jess. This place is my favorite place of the places you wrote about. Food is original yet amazing (yes, even the Jade Chicken) and you get a ton of food at a decent price. Chino’s was on Diners, Drive In, Dives and the host Guy loved it. He wrote about it in his book, and still refers to it occationally on the show or the commercial leading up to the show.

  4. Collin Ghosh says:

    Its different.. its a combination of Mexican, Chinese and Caribbean. My favorite is Jade Red chicken and Jerk Rice with a queso.

  5. Lois says:

    Everyone should check out this place at least once. No one should waste their visit on teriyaki chicken, for Pete’s sake. The jade and emerald chicken are the hallmarks!! And though this review makes Chino sound like a cheap feeding trough, the highlight is really the joyous heart and soul of the owners who encourage you to try samples of just about everything.

  6. mark jones says:

    As for the hideous looking heap of protein and starch dumped in that aluminum pan …. obviously you folks don’t eat with your eyes first (or maybe your blindfold yourself before opening your gullet and shoveling that muck in) … and an endorsement by Guy Fieri is hardly credible since the man runs a sushi / southern BBQ restaurant ….. (another ridiculous cuisine combo) ….. I’m thinking of opening a new restaurant which features meat loaf pizza with a drizzle of ranch dressing and cheese whiz ….. sounds great doesn’t it?
    I’m all for simple food, but this simply looks awful ….. yes, I’ll admit I’m a member of the pompous foodie alumni [the ones with discerning palates, and in this case a culinary degree] ….. Huge quantities of randomly combined ethnic foods do not a bargain make! …… If you want a deal, maybe you could go to Claim Jumper for something that’s accompanied by a two pound pile of mashed spuds. Mmmm …..

  7. Erin says:

    I am so glad you reviewed one of my local favorites. In high school I loved meeting at the north Phoenix location every Wednesday night after track meets. Admittedly, the restaurant is a dive – but that is what gives it so much charm. It is not a restaurant you go to “be seen” and no one ever feels out of place (unless you are like my mom who still does not understand how to order). Instead, people go there strictly for the food fusion that you cannot find anywhere else. And the food is fabulous! For years I have ordered a 7 and 7q with REF and JFR (or for those of you who don’t speak Chino, that means jade red chicken, jade red chicken in a quesadilla, refried beans and jerk fried rice). For a fast-casual restaurant, the price is not expensive, but it is not exactly a steal. However, the portions are huge, which is perfect because I can make each combo last for two separate meals. Lastly, the cookies are a great touch and I love the new varieties on weekends. Last week I had the butterscotch oatmeal raisin cookie – delicious!

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