La Casita Mexicana: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011
When you sit down at La Casita, the spiritual home of Mexican cooking in Los Angeles, you are brought a basket of warm chips drizzled with jet-black mole poblano, a chile-laced red pepian and a green pepian made from crushed pumpkin seeds: the dense, complexly sweet mother sauces that are at the heart of La Casita's cooking. It is a cuisine worth getting to know, especially the ever-changing dishes scrawled on the chalkboard specials list, which are likely to feature huazontle, hoja santa or nopals grown in the neighborhood, as fresh and beautiful as they might be in an agriculture-obsessed Jalisco village — the Lenten and Christmas season menus are astonishing. Chefs Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu are everywhere if you follow Spanish-language media, demonstrating recipes on the Univision morning show, opening supermarkets and splashed across advertising posters, and they are omnipresent at sustainable-food events. But mostly there is the cooking: a half-dozen different kinds of chilaquiles at breakfast, a beautiful purple-corn posole, delicious enfrijoladas and an impeccable version of chiles en nogada, the most famous dish of haute Mexican cuisine. There is no alcohol, but ask about the aguas frescas — you may luck into the alfalfa drink, green as envy and flavored with the tiny Mexican limes that grow in Jaime's mom's backyard. 4030 E. Gage Ave., Bell. (323) 773-1898, casitamex.com. Daily, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. No alcohol. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Mexican.
99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:
Church & State
Din Tai Fung
El Huarache Azteca
Euro Pane Bakery
Fab Hot Dogs
Good Girl Dinette
La Casita Mexicana
Lazy Ox Canteen
Meals by Genet
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
Night + Market
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Pollos a la Brasa
Sapp Coffee Shop
Son of a Gun
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Waterloo & City
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