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Archive for the ‘tortillas’ Tag

Taco Tour   1 comment

Back-to-back taco tastings at two Los Angeles taquerias may not constitute a true test, but it did provide a fun opportunity for comparison – plus alliteration. Both Mexicali Taco & Co. and Yuca’s have garnered a lot of ink in The Los Angeles Times, mainly thanks to critic Jonathan Gold; all of it well deserved.

I first heard of Mexicali Taco several years ago in a Gold review. What I recall is that the owners travel to Baja a few times a week for the tortillas. While I think there are plenty of good tortillerias in East L.A., I appreciate Mexicali’s efforts. They are worth it. We ordered carne asada tacos. The meat comes almost naked on a plate, wrapped only in a soft tortilla. A grilled scallion is added for can only be color. It was the carne we were after, but a small salsa bar features a few different heat levels, pickled onions, radishes, slaw, cucumbers and lime. The charred diced meat is surprisingly tender.

However, Yuca’s carne asada is a bit more flavorful. These feature grilled pieces of meat with fresh onion, tomatoes and cilantro. They don’t need anything else except two corn tortillas, which don’t hold up well. Yuca’s offers a few outdoor tables, otherwise plan to eat in your car – if you can’t wait to get home.

The best of the taco world, where these two are concerned, would be Mexicali’s tortillas because they hold up well and have a distinct corn taste, and Yuca’s melt-in-your-mouth carne asada.

Mexicali’s Taco & Co. 
Four Plates
702 N. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles

Yuca’s
Four Plates
2056 Hillhurst Ave.
Los Angeles

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Ignore the Sign   Leave a comment

QuickSamsquickSamsiiiThe name Quick Sam’s conjures images of Quick Draw McGraw and Yosemite Sam, neither of which has anything to do with south of the border cuisine. But then the sign for this unassuming, three-table eatery is misleading, too; it boasts pizza, fried chicken and sandwiches, which aren’t even on the menu. Nothing suggests authentic Mexican food. Add to this the fact that Galesburg, Ill., is not a locale that immediately comes to mind for enchiladas, rice and beans.

QuickSamsEnchilladas

In a building that stands out only because it’s next to a cemetery on one side and a row of two-story clapboard houses on the other, Quick Sam’s is an anomaly on several levels. The place is small: part tiny diner, part miniature-convenience store complete with glass coolers where much of the inventory for the diminutive kitchen. Yet, it’s muy grande when it comes to flavors.

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The menu features standard Mexican fare: tacos, burritos, enchiladas and chile rellenos. Chips and fresh made salsa are the precursors of tastes to come. Quick Sam’s salsa is the kind to ruin an appetite only because it’s easy to eat too much. Self-restraint comes in handy here.

The chile rellenos combined the smokiness of roasted poblanos with creamy Jack cheese that had all been coated in an egg, flour and cornmeal mix and fried. It wasn’t greasy, but not quite as crispy as I like.

Prices are reasonable: less than $8 for a meal that includes rice and beans. All items are also available a la carte.

 

Quick Sam’s
Four Plates
275 S. Academy St.
Galesburg, Ill

Burrito Bonanza   Leave a comment

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The Chipotle formula for selling freshly-made burritos is increasingly commonplace. What may be unusual, however, is finding a fast Mexican eatery with authentically good food. Azada Mexican Grill makes the grade with its “Build Your Burrito” menu.

Six meats, including grilled chicken, shredded pork and carne asada are offered. I couldn’t decide between shredded beef with green chile sauce or the Rojo, pork in red chile. I was offered samples of both, although that only made the decision more difficult since both were abundant in flavor. Sensing my inability to choose, I was asked if I wanted to sample anything else. I did, but I suspected it would only hamper my decision-making abilities.

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Ultimately, I opted for the Rojo. Azada makes its own flour tortillas, which are also sold by the dozen. These are just the right density to contain the contents of a burrito, but not pita-thick. A choice of Mexican Rice and Cilantro Lime Rice, refried or whole Beans are part of the package, as are several salsas. The tender pork in piquant red sauce rendered a salsa superfluous. I did ask for a dollop of sour cream to temper the subtle kick of the sauce.

Breakfast burritos and a handful of entrees are also available.

Not only is the food fresh and delectable, but the staff is friendly and solicitous. Orders are placed at the counter and burritos are made as you wait. Still, the staff checks to ensure everything is fine, all of which sets Azada apart from the pack.

Azada Mexican Grill
Four Plates
16 E. Bijou
Colorado Springs, CO

Mole Heaven   2 comments

molerestaurant

Blue Page Special followers know I can’t resist mole. This is either a character flaw or an attribute, but I love the thick paste usually made with nuts, seeds, chile and cocoa. Guelaguetza Restaurant provides not just one mole item, but so many choices, we had to try Festival de Moles: a sampler of four types.

molechips

The large, colorful, Oaxacan restaurant located on the outskirts of Los Angeles’s Koreatown is all things mole. A plate of chips with mole was set on the table soon after we were seated. The sampler featured two reds, one green and one dark mole. A yellow and one of the green moles were not included. Each of the four bowls was filled with shredded chicken and subtle differences in taste, with obvious variations in color. It was impossible to choose a favorite. The dark, Negro Mole, was smoky and the color of fudge. The two reds, Rojo and Coloradito (Little Red), were somewhat sweeter, but each provided a subtle kick — the Rojo more than its misnamed lesser counterpart. The Estofado Mole, something completely new for me, is made with tomatillos and green olives for a tangier flavor and different hue.

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Three of us shared the sampler. Initially we thought it wasn’t going to be enough. Four small bowls, a little serving of rice and a thin platter-size corn tortilla. We also ordered guacamole (as in holy moly, not molay),it was chunky, fresh and spicy. Before we knew it, we were stuffed and sorry we left a few bites.

Guelaguetza Restaurant

Four-and-a-half Plates
3014 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, Calif.