Beer Belly – 532 S Western Ave Los Angeles, CA

I will end the year with a confession. I don’t really like to drink beer often.  I like my alcohol like I like my men – hard and brown. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a restaurant that specializes in beer.  Especially one that serves brunch. So one Saturday when the friends and I decided to hop in the car and try Beer Belly.

I’ll be honest, we drove by it a few times as it’s tucked away behind another business. I was very surprised because it’s such a small place.  But hey, size matters not.  I took a look at the menu and saw some big time flavors and immediately knew I was going to like this place.

First thing I ordered was the Duck Fat Fries with Duck Confit if only for the fact that I HAD to try something so ballsy.  You’re telling me you fried this in duck fat then put a bunch of yummy duck cracklings on top? And you’re serving it with a raspberry mustard? Shut the fuck up. And I’ll tell you what.  It was delicious.  I may have raised my cholesterol a few points, but it was worth it.

I then needed something that was simple and light.  So I got a side of lox with pickled onions. I wanted something a little healthier to offset the fried food I was ordering.  It was exactly what I needed.  Light, salty and clean.

Finally, I ordered something wild.  A glass of fancy beer and Chicken “In” Waffles. That’s chicken, deep friend INTO a waffle. I have another confession, I’m not the biggest fried chicken fan either, but this was so inventive that I had to give it a try. The chicken was juicy, the batter just right, and the dipping sauces were a great addition to the flavors.  The best part about it, was that I didn’t have that uncomfortable greasy tummy feeling after eating.  I was full and satisfied, but not uncomfortable.  With so much fried food, that is rare. And the beer was crisp and flavorful.  I drank the whole thing (that’s even more rare).

I have to admit, the food was amazing, but my favorite part of brunch that day was the overall fun vibe that came courtesy of the Music Democracy.  I downloaded the proper app to my phone and was able, with my friends, to vote for the music we wanted to hear.  There was some punk, some 90s alternative, some hip hop, and I even was able to play a certain song that inspired my table to both groan with annoyance and laugh with glee as a sang along, “never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down…”

A place that specializes in beer? I have to confess, I loved it.

Whisknladle – 1044 Wall St. La Jolla, CA

There are only two of things I will drive over a hundred miles to get. One of those things is rather obvious – I mean, c’mon, lusty is my first name after all.  The other is brunch – and brunch at Whisknladle is my favorite.

Every few months, I make it a point to drive down to La Jolla to visit this adorable little place.  It has a great staff, gorgeous decor, and even has been known to play some decent tunes.  But no one drives over an hour for any of those reasons – no, I drive to La Jolla for the food.

I have had brunch more than a few times at Wisknladle, the last was just as good as the first.

We started with a Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad.  Even though it was a gloomy afternoon, it was a refreshing start to the meal.  Simple flavors, fresh ingredients and a perfect sprinkling of salt made this what a salad should be – foreplay.

What we ordered next has been my favorite dish thus far, the Pork Shoulder Verde.  How a brunch spot got the authentic Mexican flavors so spot on is a mystery, but they did it.  And the egg that topped off the dish was such a perfect addition, the yoke’s creamy taste adding another layer of flavor to the already amazing pork and salsa verde is something I hope to experience again.

Finally, we had the Housemade Lox.  Partly because we were keeping it light and partly because I have this strange obsession with lox, especially of the house made variety.  The toasted bread, the light shmear, the peppery salad made this “light” choice a very substantial meal.

After eating, I drove down to San Diego to visit some friends, I pretended that was the reason for my drive.  But the truth is, Whisknladle is the type of place that forces me to create reasons to drive for hours.

I have yet to regret the mileage.

Sushi Ichi – 633 Arroyo Pkwy, Suite 1 Pasadena, CA

A secret love.  We all have had one.  A relationship we wanted to keep all to ourselves for whatever reason. And admittedly, sometimes the best part of this kind of love, is the excitement and secrecy that sneaking around brings.  Always that risk of getting caught.

Much like true love, this place is hard to find.  I drove past it twice. And when my secret dinner date and I walked in, we were the only ones there.  Marvelous!

The first thing I noticed when I sat at our small table in the very clean restaurant, was the sake flight menu.  Lemme get this straight,  I can try three different sake flavors for a low price? I think someone is trying to seduce me.

With a ghost of sake on my breath, I realized my hunger was overpowering me.  I hadn’t had some good sushi in a long time and I so desperately needed this place to be different, better, a secret worth keeping.

Sometimes you know, just from a look.  Now I don’t believe in love at first sight, but lust at first sight, I know that exists.  After ordering a ridiculously copious amount of sushi, my eyes fixed, my heart stopped and my breath caught in my chest when I was presented with the first round, the nigiris.  When those beautiful pieces of sushi were lay before me, I knew – this was going to be amazing.

The Albacore was heavenly and melted in my mouth on impact.  The Spanish Mackerel, which can be very fishy, was perfectly perfumed and balanced.  The Salmon was simple, clean and fresh. Finally, the Red Snapper, oh dear the Red Snapper. My eyes rolled up to the heavens almost to look up to God to thank him for the awesomeness that my mouth was experiencing.

Then, the rolled.  The Spicy Tuna Handroll is like french kissing – for many of us, it is the first step in a life of sin – the first base of sushi.  An oldie but a goodie, and like french kissing, it was fantastic and just the beginning. Second, the next step in the sushi foreplay playbook – The Blue Crab Handroll.  A little more advanced than Spicy Tuna, this is what separates the decent sushi from the really good stuff.  Creamy, lacking in that overtly fishy flavor (a good quality in sushi and in the bedroom) this less known roll is the way to know if you are in the know.  Now all that rolled sushi just got me ready for the freaky shit – Monkfish Liver Sushi. What I liken as the pate of the sea, like hardcore S&M,this stuff is not for the amateurs.  And as someone who doesn’t shy away from a bit of kink in her meals, Monkfish Liver was the best ending I could have hoped for.  Smooth texture, sharp metallic flavor, and a dressed with fresh chives and tart wasabi.  That’s right you bad boys and girls, I don’t play around. And the people at Sushi Ichi don’t either.

Like most secret loves, I won’t be able to visit as often as I’d like.  It’s too risky. But believe me when I say, this place is always on my mind whenever I’m feeling naughty.

Soleto Trattoria & Pizza Bar – 801 S Figueroa St Los Angeles, CA

There are few sins more devious, more prone to damn a soul, than the sweet temptation of Happy Hour.

Alcohol, sustenance, low prices and the ability to eye fuck hot men in business suits.  Lordy, there’s at least a few deadly sins in there somewhere.

I had walked past Soleto a few times on the way to visit a friend who worked nearby, and it was always packed, so I figured I should stop by and see what kind of sinful delights they were dishing out.

So my girl and I sat down, scoped out the local talent, and ordered as much as possible from the menu without scaring the waitstaff.  We ordered a few sangrias and got to it.

First up was the Charred Cauliflower and Shrimp Oreganato.  Though the plentiful amount of skewers in the food gave us pause (perhaps referencing a certain fork yielding deity of the underworld?), we got to work.  The cauliflower was good, the shrimp was amazing.  Even with the slightly oily texture, the bread was perfect for sopping up all the flavor and, I have to admit, I wanted another when I was done.

Then the Roasted Baby Beets and Ricotta Bruschetta. The beets were exactly what I wanted after the heaviness of the shrimp and the bruschetta was great. I loved the silky texture of the ricotta with the crisp bread, but I must admit, I wish the pink peppercorns flirtatiously sprinkled on top would have stood up a bit more to the ricotta, I wanted just a little more bite.

The Sauteed Calamari was not for me.  But my friend ordered it, and I am nothing if not a team player.  The texture was fine, but man the bell peppers were a big part of the flavor profile, and I am not a fan of the bell peppers.

The Cannellini Bean Hummus was good, but tasted just like regular hummus.  That’s not to imply I didn’t eat the entire serving like it was my last meal, but I was hoping for something a little extra zesty.

But the end of the line came with my favorite, the Antipasti Platter.  Fattening meat, hearty cheese, crisp bread, candied apricot and just a touch of brocollini just to make us feel like we weren’t completely going to hell on a platter.

We left drunk. Drunk of food, drink and company.  Happy hour indeed.

Guild New American Bistro – 611 W 7th St Los Angeles, CA 90017

Some relationships are unexpected, are the result of chance, of fate, of divine intervention. If you’d have turned left rather than right, you’d never have fallen in love.

That’s what happened a balmy summer afternoon when I walked, ever so casually past a new downtown Los Angeles restaurant and a cheerful young lady beckoned, “Free desserts!” Le swoon.

Still the new kid on the block, Guild was only serving lunch, but after glancing at the selections, I knew what I wanted and I knew I was making a second trip to try the rest of it too.

Our first time, like most first times, was good, yet reserved.  I ordered a simple Steak Tartar and Romanesque Cauliflower…you know because I’m a bad girl who tries to be a little good too.  The Tartar was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Well prepared and with the perfect amount of spice and sour, I could eat this appetizer on a regular basis if my cholesterol could handle it. The Cauliflower had a wonderful texture and, like a great first kiss, got better and better the more I tried.  The perfect little meal to get me interested in more.Yet that wasn’t what really clenched it.  What did the job was the Carrot Cake.

It should be known that I am not a fan of Carrot Cake.  My mom loves it, but like most things my mom loves, like nice respectable men, I am not a fan.  That is until I tried this.  The most moist cake topped with ridiculous frosting, I ate the entire thing.  Just as I was finishing up, the very tall, very cute chef came by to check on me and let me know that he puts yogurt in the batter to make it extra sumptuous. Dashing and talented.  Noted.

Needless to say with a first like that, I had to come back for more. A few weeks later, I had a free lunch date and decided Guild and I were going to meet up again.  This time, I was much hungrier.

Round two done knocked me out.

It started so light and innocent with the very large glass of Lemonade and the Tomato & Bread Salad.  The tomatoes were so fresh as was the basil dressing that the bread was a perfect counter point.  I was so proud of myself for making a healthy and light choice!

Then, the banh mi had to come around and totally mess that up. Crispy, fatty pork belly in a hearty bun with fresh veggies to give it that authentic flavor profile.  But this banh mi was about 25% bigger than the original and as much as I tried to resist it, I just couldn’t stop eating bite after bite after bite.  I damn near fainted from the sheer richness of it. Not to mention the perfectly seasoned fries.

Then, just to add to my post-cuilnary haze, they ask me which dessert I’d like to try – on the house. Damn it, free food one of my better known weaknesses. So I ask for the Glazed Doughnut – but only a half order.  I am a lady after all.

My plan was to just have a bite, you know, for science. That bite turned into me fighting to urge to lick the plate clean.  I am not that into doughnuts, but apparently, Guild makes desserts that force me to change my mind. And, isn’t that the kind of surprise that makes life more exciting?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bäco Mercat – 408 S Main St Los Angeles, CA

I don’t fall in love easily.

In fact, I always find it rather unnerving the casual way some of my peers declare their love.  It’s annoying to me to proclaim such a profound feeling with such ease, such haste, with complete disregard as to the import and seriousness of that proclamation.

That being said, I have to admit, that I am in love.

Not with a strapping young man, with black rimmed glasses, tattoos and a brooding charm.  Not the kind of love that implies children and houses and settling down, no.  I am in love with Bäco Mercat.

This realization and subsequent declaration did not come quickly nor lightly.  This was a serious undertaking, a solemn commitment to really open my heart, mind, and mouth to the possibility of holding one restaurant’s food above the rest.  Mind you, this declaration of love was by no means one of monogamy, I consider my food related love as polyamorous, but damned if I have to admit that I can’t stop thinking about Bäco Mercat, it’s varied menu, it’s fresh ingredients, it’s decor.  I may still dip my fork in various plates around town, but I hold Bäco Mercat above the rest.

Much like trying to explain why one loves a person, how I fell for Bäco Mercat is a long, complicated story.  With far too many nuanced details to possible attempt to share in one measly blog post.  However, I will try to do my best to share an abridged version of this match made in heaven.

Since it’s opening, I have eaten at Bäco Mercat no less than two dozen times.  I have taken every person I love (in a non-romantic way mind you) to dine at Bäco Mercat. My mother, my brother, my best friends all.  Like when anyone falls in love, they want to share their sweetie with their closest friends and family. In all these visits I have attempted to try as many of the dishes as possible, fully aware that there is so much more to try.  And each time, my companion commends my choice…I sure know how to pick ‘em.

I often start a meal with my go-to fish plate, the Hamachi Crudo.  Refreshing and light, with the contrasting texture of a crisp and light hash brown to offset the creamy avocado mousse, the mouth feel alone on this dish is inspired.  Not to mention the layers of flavor which do more to whet the appetite rather than sate it.

One of my favorite dishes is one that I tried upon my first visit, the Mixed Grain Salad. The best thing about this plate, besides the great textures that Bäco Mercat seems to have mastered, is the refreshing tang of the dressing and the bright flavor brought in by the herbs.  Paired with the hearty grains, this salad is surprisingly filling yet still light and refreshing.  Pure genius.

The Potato Salad, similar in it’s matching of complex textures and bright flavors, is so rich and perfectly seasoned, it has changed my usual ideas of potato salad as a bland afterthought.

The show stopper for most is the Coca.  A hybrid of flat bread and pizza, the Coca is enough to fill up even the hungriest of patrons…a few times over.  And the Salty Jowel, with it’s plentiful ricotta and sumptuous runny egg is such an amazing treat that every time I’ve ordered it, I’ve continued eating way past the point of fullness.  My tummy runneth over, much like my heart.

The best part, is that there are so many more amazing plates.  The Caesar Brussel Sprouts, the Lengua Ravioli, the taco-gyro-but-neither Baco, all are so delicious that I know, even in a fickle town like Los Angeles, that I will spend years and years continuing in this love affair.  When I fall, I mean it, and Bäco Mercat, I really mean it.

Mo-Chica – 514 W 7th St Los Angeles, CA

Sometimes, when it comes to the more pleasurable things in life, it’s important to try something a little exotic to mix things up.  Though it can be true that exotic to one person is everyday to another, there are a few rare instances that can excite even the most experienced hedonist.

One of Downtown LA’s newer additions to restaurant row, Mo-Chica is where I went to get my exotic on…hard. And I was not disappointed.  In fact, it’s more accurate to say that I ate so much during my visit that I was ready to roll over and start snoring from the sheer combination of pleasure, excitement and post-digestive exhaustion.

Now, I’ve had some experience with Peruvian food, but nothing to hard core, just light PSDM (Peruvian Spicy Delicious Meal). So I was all aflutter when I looked over the menu and saw so many choices that referred to things I had never even heard of! My eyes widened as I anticipated how each dish would taste and my brow furrowed when I realized I’d have to narrow my options down to a manageable amount.  I didn’t want to blow my wad (of cash) too quickly.

We started with something seemingly light and familiar…booze.  And when it comes to booze that I consider outside the norm, I like to dabble in Mezcal.  The Oaxacalifornia Love was the perfect combination of familiar summer flavors and exotic smoky mezcal.  Just enough kink to get the party going.

The Beterraga was supposed to be the tame dish, a roasted beet salad.  But the orange aji amarillo dressing added a sweetness that kept my interested piqued and kept my fork flirting with more and  more.

Then came the dish I knew would knock my socks off, the ceviche carretillero.  There is something so sumptuous about how Peruvians do ceviche.  I don’t know if it’s the choclo, which is what I liken to natural corn nuts, or the seaweed, or the bitch slap of spice and citrus all mixed up with the fleshy, plump, tender seabass.  Good lord I wanted to motorboat the hell out of that dish.

And because of my strong desire for ceviche, I ordered the albacore which was on special.  Tender and in a great sauce, but if I’m being honest, the flavor profile was a bit too Japanese for what I was in the mood for…I wanted something nastier, you know?  Japanese flavors are so clean and crisp that it was out of line with all the layers of the other courses.

I got right back into it with the Lomo Saltado.  It was salty, but I love the salty stuff.  And the tender meat with the roasted tomatoes and onions was a perfect heavy dish to follow the first three lighter ones.  Things were starting to get intense.

To get really exotic, and push my hard limits, we tried the estofado de alpaca – alpaca stew over pasta with a fried egg.  And much like my first experiences with the rough stuff outside of food, this dish both excited and worried me.  What would it taste like?  Would I enjoy it?  Would I enjoy it too much?  I poked the yolk oh so gently and watched the yellow goodness ooze onto the pasta.  Oooh yeah baby, that looks soooo good.  And let me tell you, it tasted even better.

And just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore.  When I thought my senses were pushed to their pleasure limit, the colita de rez arrived.  Oxtail, topped with fresh onion and placed atop a smooth bed of something close to risotto.  Let’s just say that this dish was my ringer.  Tender meat, creamy trigo de mote, fresh salsa criolla to balance it all out.  That course made me it’s bitch.

We should have know that we had reached the climax.  But like many hedonists, we wanted to go for one more.  The Paiche was interesting.  It tasted like a fish and a chicken had a smokey delicious hybrid.  I liked it, sure, but I was already spent and sated.  It was just overkill. My tastebuds were already desensitized.

I wanted to stop there.  I knew I had had enough, I was panting and exhausted and wanted to take a nap.  But my friend has the thing for fried desserts.  So rather than using my safety word, I was a trooper and took a nibble of the Picarones.  As far as fried food goes, it was good.  Crispy outside, fluffy inside, and the sauce had a flavor reminiscent of rum and coffee.  Did it take it too far?  Perhaps, but at least I was able to try something new and see just how far I could go.

As my friend and I paid our bill and stumbled outside, we had that look of shame that only comes when someone over indulges in those parts of life that are deemed naughty.  Quick downward glances, stuttering muted speech…we had done something over the top.  And, most shameful of all, we knew we should be sorry, but we weren’t.  Despite what we knew we should be feeling, we left there with the overwhelming urge to turn around and do it all over again.

Alegria On Sunset – 3510 W Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA

My mother always told me not to judge by what is on the outside, but what is on the inside.  She said that even the most broke down looking person could be a real gem once you got to know them.

That’s exactly how I feel about Alegria on Sunset.

I first heard about Alegria from a book about little known Los Angeles haunts.  I remember the first time I drove up and thought, “This place? Really?”

Yes, really.

Located in a strip mall, with limited parking, Alegria on Sunset is a place you’ve probably driven by several times and not even noticed. But once you know to look, you’ll wonder how you could have ever passed it by.

Once inside, all the beauty unable to be seen is put on display.  From the art on the walls, to the smiles on the servers faces, this place is the definition of a hidden gem.

But Alegria’s true beauty is illustrated in their food – simple on the surface, but oh so beautiful.

At the start of every meal, a simple salsa composed of fresh tomatoes, onions and jalapenos are presented with simple chips.  It’s the kind of simple starter anyone can make, but Alegria does it so well, there’s no need.  The hearty chunks allow for each bite to be a different flavor profile, some fresher, some spicier, all good.

Before I order any food I always go for what I consider to be the hidden gem of this hidden gem – the fresh made aguas frescas.  Scribbled on a white board, a variety of fruits are listed that can be made into a delightfully light and fresh beverage. My favorite combination usually involves strawberries and some other complimentary fruit.  Regardless of what I choose, I have yet to refrain from downing mine before my entree gets to my table.

I must admit, have sampled several items on the Alegria menu, the Tacos de Crema and Pollo en Mole are stellar.  But my go to dish, the dish that I have driven miles and miles to get, the one that makes me see the true beauty of this tiny little restaurant, are the Enchiladas Suizas.

There are two kinds of people in this world, people who like red sauce on their enchiladas and people who like green.  I’m of the green variety and make it a personal point to order this version of chicken stuffed in tortillas, sprinkled with cheese and smothered in a mild tamatillo salsa and sour cream. I can safely say that Alegria’s Enchiladas Suizas are ranked as one of the best I’ve ever had.

The chicken is perfectly succulent, not at all overcooked.  The amount of chicken to tortilla to sauce is balanced so perfectly that I have been hard pressed to leave Alegria without fighting every urge in my body to lick the plate clean (see photo as proof of that fact).  In all honesty, I have yet to leave from one of my many visits with a morsel of food left on the plate…and considering the healthy portions, that’s saying a lot.

Therefore, it has been on only a few magical occasions that I have even sampled what I consider one of the most brilliant desserts, called a Chocolate Chimichanga. A choclate bar with almonds, wrapped in a flour tortilla and deep fried then topped with fruit compote and whipped cream, though not a pretty sight, is pretty freaking gorgeous tasting.  A special occasion treat reserved for visits that allow for such beautiful indulgences. I suggest giving it a try if only once in your lifetime.

I myself will be back to Allegria on Sunset very soon, with friends in tow, to teach them of one of the oldest lessons my mother, and this place have taught me…Hidden gems are fucking amazing.

Colori Kitchen – 429 W 8th St Los Angeles, CA

I really don’t like being out of the loop. I pride myself on being the person who is asked where to go and what to order.  I revel in the delight of taking a friend to a restaurant they have never heard of and seeing their eyes roll back in their heads while they nod in agreement as they chew vigorously and form a smile with their obviously satisfied mouth.

So when I was informed by my good friend that not only was I late on the uptake about the best hidden gem in Downtown LA’s already impressive restaurant scene, but that said place was an Italian restaurant, I have to admit, I was quite upset. I was so out of the loop on this.

My self loathing continued for days until I finally found myself at Colori Kitchen.  As soon as I walked into this small but bustling restaurant I knew this place is the place to be.  And I am happy to report that after visiting this quaint little spot a few times, I am back. Big time.

The best way to start a meal, I was told, was by ordering the limited specialty calamari.  Now, I don’t like fried calamari.  It’s rubbery, it’s greasy, it’s not sexy at all.  In fact, when I was informed that the calamari was a must, I rolled my eyes, and not in the good way.  What was presented to me, however, changed everything.  Grilled calamari steak, dressed with a lemon wine sauce and paired with peppery greens.  Fork tender, moist and flavorful. No rubbery texture, no fishy taste.  Now the eye roll was the good kind.  If this was any indication of the types of discoveries to be made, I was ready to dig even deeper.

Next up the special salad featuring my favorite cheese in the world – burrata.  Clean, refreshing and the perfect salad before a meal laden with pasta.

Let’s talk about the pasta.

Now, I’m of Italian ancestry.  Therefore pasta is definitely something I’m in the loop about.  So believe me when I say that Colori Kitchen is the place for pasta.

My first order was for the ravioli di zucca – pumpkin ravioli.  The perfect blend of sweet with savory, these pillows of creamy goodness, in a brown butter sauce are made even more perfect with the added texture of chopped walnuts.

The next order was from the daily special.  A pasta in cream sauce prepared with sausage.  A much more substantial pasta preparation, the perfect amount of sauce, matched with the perfect amount of meat with a robust pasta that stands up to both.  Good stuff.

Then, a simpler dish of spaghetti with pesto.  The counterpoint of the bright, herbaceous pesto with the hearty pasta. It was simple but also delicious.

The last of the main courses, the daily special of risotto with shrimp and black truffle, was the topper.  Risotto is an easy dish to mess up, and often misses the mark.  But this dish was so amazing, so perfectly seasoned and flavored that I found myself continuing to take forkful after forkful all while feeling a sense of relief and happiness that I had finally found this place.

However, I was not prepared for what followed.  Much like the start of the meal, which revealed new surprises, the conclusion proved just as fantastic.  I was presented with ricotta cheesecake.  To say that this dessert was enjoyable, to say it was delectable, to say my eyes rolled back in my head while I nodded in agreement as I chewed vigorously and formed a smile with my obviously satisfied mouth is an understatement.  To say that I ate the entire cheesecake, almost by myself, and that at each bite I closed my eyes and reveled in the soft, supple texture, that I slowly, painstakingly savored every single morsel of the richly flavored sweetness is more close to fact.

Needless to say, I now make a point to suggest Colori Kitchen to those who ask where to go. After all, I am so very in the loop.

La Casita Mexicana – 4030 Gage Ave Bell, CA

It has been said that I have a passion for all things Mexican and Mexican-American. Whether the food, the men, or the culture, my most deeply rooted cravings are often attached to those things and people formed from Hispanic roots.  Some say it is due to the fact that I am born and raised in a Mexican-American community which has taken me in as one of their own.  Others speculate that this passion was formed because my own cultural roots are based in a similar Latin culture, and I, therefore, find familiarity between Mexican heritage and my own.  Still others, who base their ideas on the spiritual, say that I must have been a very happily plump Mexican mother who cooked her love into her food and that my current attachment is based on those memories from a life long passed.  Regardless of the reasons why, those who know me well, know that if it’s Mexican-American, I’m in.

In fact, it was a Mexican-American man that first brought me to this tiny gem of a restaurant and re-ignited my red-hot passion for the food.  Upon my first taste, I was so enthralled that I began emitting those guttural sounds akin to those heard in the throes of another kind of passion.  So much so, that my companion commented on how my audible emissions of pleasure were making him uncomfortable.  (Needless to say, he didn’t last too long.)

It has been ten years since my first bite, and like any passion, the torch I carry for La Casita Mexicana only grows stronger as each day passes. Even after numerous encounters, my moans have only gotten louder, and more deeply rooted in a hunger for more.

The thing about La Casita Mexicana that makes it so special, so pleasurable, is it’s authenticity.  This is not an Americanized, prefabricated, out of a can restaurant.  Hell, up until a few years ago, the servers didn’t even speak English.  This is a place where one can taste fresh ingredients and experience traditional preparations, a place where every bite inspires, well, guttural moans of pleasure, of course.

The foreplay, if you will, begins before food is even ordered. The server starts every table off with chips.  But not the bland standard of bagged chips with tomato heavy “salsa.”  These fresh made chips are slathered in the house specialty – mole.  And not just one type of mole, all three varieties featured on the menu.  It never fails that this trifecta of flavor serves the purpose of getting my fire going.  Mmmmmm.

To quench this fire, I always order the  Agua de Limon con Chia (Lemonade with Chia seeds).  The perfect blend of sugar and water with the tiny bursts of texture from chia seeds cool me down to prepare me for the next round of Mexican food lust.  Hmmmmm.

Just to tease the senses, before the  main course, La Casita Mexicana presents a soup.  And of the numerous times I’ve eaten at La Casita Mexicana, each time I have gotten this course, I have been surprised and delighted.  This time, the soup was something even more surprising than I’ve had in the past – Sopa de Platano,  what the gringos might call a banana soup.  Just the right touch of sweet to added to the hearty and rich flavors of the soup, it left my mouth anticipating what was to come next. Ooooh.

But those sounds pale in comparison to the deep, animalistic noises that are emitted when the main courses arrive.  First, the Emoladas, enchiladas filled with chicken or cheese, drenched in the rich, flavorful house mole.  The sweet, heavy sauce caressing the tongue whilst the hearty tortilla and moist chicken dance in the mouth always leaves me feeling waves of ecstasy wash over me.

But that plate isn’t even my favorite.  The “Oooh-OOOH-OOOOO-OH-MY-GOD-YESSSSSS!!!” escapes my lips for one plate only…the Chiles en Nogadas.  As a person who craves authenticity, this dish is the real deal.  So many layers of flavors and textures, so much spice paired with so much sweet, so fucking amazing.  And the best part of all, is that finding this dish, a dish seldom found on any menu, it’s impossible not to close my eyes and savor the generations of history encased in this roasted chile stuffed with hearty meats and sweet fruits and topped with a smooth cream and tart pops of pomegranate seeds.  I also find it impossible to take all that amazingness into my body silently, or to leave even a morsel left behind.

This food is as delicious at it is legitimate, so it should be of no surprise that the place that has me craving more, that evokes my passion for the culture and food that I have taken as my own, is La Casita Mexicana.