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Cacao: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

PHOTO BY ANNE FISHBEIN

Why isn't duck carnitas on every Mexican menu in town? If you think about it, the dish is almost inevitable —  duck meat simmered in fat until it nearly collapses, perfumed flesh arranged atop crisply fried sopes, a shotgun marriage of traditional and European cooking techniques of the sort that has been going on in Mexico since the conquest. Duck confit, a kind of duck carnitas from southwest France, involves salted duck legs cooked in their own fat for many hours. At Cacao, a bright, happy storefront in Eagle Rock, duck carnitas split the difference between carnitas and confit, with a lingering presence that suggests the bird was cooked in pure lard. A duck carnitas taco is about as much happiness as $3 can be expected to buy. There are chilaquiles and spiced café de olla at breakfast, chile-spiked hot chocolate for rainy afternoons, a full vegetarian menu and inexpensive quesadilla plates for the kids.

There are very acceptable plates of chicken in mole poblano at Cacao, stacked enchiladas and tequila-marinated pork belly served on a bed of refried beans stiffened with cheese. But the basic unit of consumption here is the taco, a very homemade-tasting thing filled with roast turkey, or bacon in chocolate-tinged salsa, or potatoes and house-made chorizo. Cacao will always have its detractors. But if suffering good coffee, folksy music and the bourgeois presence of duck is the price one has to pay for access to Cacao's chiles rellenos, unbreaded roast poblanos stuffed with cheese and sweet corn or squash blossoms with cod, sometimes sacrifices have to be made. 1576 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 478-2791, cacaodeli.com. Breakfast., Tues.-Fri., 8 a.m.-noon; Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch and dinner, Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. No alcohol. Limited parking in rear. MC, V. Mexican.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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miles
Cacao Mexicatessen

1576 Colorado Blvd.
Eagle Rock, CA 90041

323-478-2791

www.cacaodeli.com


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