question: Where can I find good albondigas? I mean, really, really good albondigas, the kind my Nana used to make? I’m pretty sure you never tasted my Nana’s albondigas, but trust me — you would have liked them.

Mar Vista


answer: For years, I cherished the memory of the albondigas that Eloy Mondez used to make for the staff meals at Campanile, albondigas so good that it was not unknown for regular customers to bribe a favorite waiter into sneaking over a taste from the big communal pot. As compelling as Mark Peel’s rosemary-charred lamb or carpaccio with fried artichokes could be, that dense, green soup made by a prep cook was pretty hard to resist.

But the albondigas that runs as the Friday special at Casita Mexicana, a fragrant, cramped storefront about 20 minutes south of downtown, may be even better than Mr. Mondez’s superlative soup. Casita Mexicana is known for its ambitious, creative dishes, for its rich ground-almond pepian sauces and for its ragged scraped tacos, for its labor-intensive chiles en nogada and for its pozole made with Peruvian purple corn. This thoroughly traditional albondigas soup is a sort of soothing meat broth studded with chunked squashes, and generously seeded with big, loosely packed meatballs whose juicy lusciousness is exceeded only by the sharpness of the fresh mint that flavors them. As if any of us needed another reason to visit Bell on a Friday night. 4030 E. Gage Ave., Bell, (323) 773-1898.

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