Friday, May 29, 2009

Un día de comida mexicana

I fulfilled one of my specific goals for this trip: finding and eating actual Mexican food - you know, the edible stuff, which is difficult to found "Back East." I got to do this twice today, eating at two restaurants I have never been to before. Now don't get me wrong: I've eaten a lot of Mexican food out here in Cali. I just haven't eaten at these places.

Síquio's is in the smallish city of Colton, next to a water park. I had passed by it many, many times but had never gone in. Jim and I headed in today and got hit in the face with the possibility of a Mexican buffet. It did not look impressive, so we ordered the lunch combos. Like many Mexican restaurants in SoCal, you can choose items to form a two- or three-item combo, which typically comes with beans and rice. My two items were the chile relleno and meat enchilada. Both were good, but I preferred the enchilada. The chile relleno was a little slippery under my knife and fork, but that's to be expected. The coating was the perfect level of light and eggy, and didn't have the strange egg-ish aftertaste that many chiles rellenos I've eaten have had. The enchilada seemed more like a small burrito. Most enchiladas I have had are thinner and wetter. This was a substantial enchilada! Along with that were house made tortilla chips with homemade salsa and homemade guacamole. The total for each two-item combo: about $10, plus an extra $3 for the guac.

I later met a former professor of mine and his wife for dinner. We met at Pepito's in Riverside, near the corner of Central and Magnolia. It was a cozy, colorful and lushly decorated restaurant and cantina. They go there all the time, and I can see why. After ordering a Dos Equis lager at the bar, I met them in the restaurant for our meal. This time, we all ordered off the a la carte menu. My professor suggested the ground beef tacos. The thing I hadn't expected was the mixture of potato in the taco (apparently, this is how they do it in Michoacán). The shell was hard, but this was no pre-fab Ortega taco shell. Instead, it was a normal corn tortilla that was folded over and fried (Síquio's were the same, except at the cheaper buffet). I ordered two ground beef and potato tacos and a tamale. The tacos were flavorful, especially with the side order of guacamole. As an aside, I have no idea what they put in their guac at Pepito's, but they need to keep putting it in because this is better than most guacamoles I have had. The tamale was massive, bigger than any I had ever eaten. It was a nice big layer of corn dough wrapped around lots of shredded pork, and smothered in a delicous red sauce. The waitress came by to ask specifically about the tamale. I told her I was pleased. These three things each cost around $2.50 (the Dos Equis? Four bucks).