By: Head Wine Chix Linda Kissam
Linda is based out of Southern California. Her passions are food wine and travel. She travels extensively year round, and is president of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association .
Mexicano Restaurant: Authentic as it gets
I love Mexican food. I have the credentials to know what I am talking about. I live in Southern California. I’ve searched out and dined in Mexican restaurants in Rome, Paris and Wyoming. I love tequila drinks. I am dedicated…just sayin’. So it was kind of surprising to discover that I’ve actually never really eaten authentic Mexican cuisine. Say What?
Apparently the “authentic” Mexican restaurants I’ve been to….I mean, most of them had signs on the bathrooms saying “Mujeres” and “Hombres” so it seemed pretty official….that served up nachos, burritos and tacos are nowhere to be found in Mexico. Imagine that.
It appears my love of Mexican food has a new starting point, Mexicano Restaurant in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Southern California. I was warned before I went in the front door not to expect chips and guacamole or mention the word burrito. What I found instead was an amazing diverse and delicious cuisine, essentially based on the state of Jalisco, which many experts argue offers some of the most delicious yet traditional cuisine in Mexico.
Under the passionate yet careful guidance of owner/chefs Jaime Martín del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu (La Casita Mexicana) everything that can be made from scratch is made from scratch. Almost round-the clock, the staff works with the freshest produce, fish, fruit, meat, cheeses and spices to create a fusion of ingredients that wow diners every day. Add to that a bar that provides the best in cocktails anywhere, and you have the perfect pairing.
Parking is free and easy, the restaurant is beautiful, the drinks are memorable, and the menu items are as authentic as it gets. What are you waiting for? Make a reservation, this place is popular.
Here are my recommendations for you.
Sereno: Start at the bar. The mural behind the bar is captivating showcasing important figures in Mexican history and culture. Order a margarita with a blend of mezcal, fresh lime juice, soda, house-made ginger cordial and bitters. A cricket on top is optional. If you are more of a beer person, they make a killer michelada flavored with tamarind and lime juice with ground chile placed around the rim for a quick starter kick to the palate.
Guacamole: One of the best I’ve tasted in years. Served with crisp corn tortillas, this is a special treat not to be missed.
Queso Fundido: Regular or with Chorizo. Think sizzling skillet of melted cheese (Oaxaca, panela, cotija and queso fresco). Best comfort food ever.
Shrimp Al Pastor: Cooked with a combination of achiote paste, spices, chiles and pineapple. Beautiful to look at, exquisite in the mouth.
Shrimp Al Mezcal: Cooked with sweet and sour orange, chile de árbol and agave this is a sweet/spicy kind of yum.
Ceviche Nayarit: Cool and hot all at once made with jalapeño peppers, carrots, onions, tomato and cilantro.
Tamales: Believe it or not, the tamales are cooked to order, steamed quickly on the grill in under seven minutes. Try all three offerings: Mole Poblano (Chicken/Pork), Green Mole (Chicken or Pork), and Chicharron En Salsa Verde (Crispy pork rinds cooked in a spicy green tomatillo sauce.)
Chicken 7 Chiles: Think premium chicken breast smothered with a seven chiles cream sauce. Can you say, “Festival of flavors?” Three of the chiles are really bell peppers which turns down the heat a bit. The four others are serrano, chilaca, jalapeño and habanero.
Desserts: I tried three desserts (why not?). The first was a delicate creamy rice called Arroz Con Leche and the signature house flan containing cotija, Oaxaca and queso fresco cheeses. The last was a plate of crispy churros oozing with delicious dulce de leche. They’re all so good I can’t tell you which one I enjoyed the most.
Wine: L.A. Cetto premium wine from Baja California. Order the premium red and the private reserve Nebbiolo. Big bold and beautiful (but not over the top).
Non Alcoholic Drink Choice: Lemonade with Chia Seeds is delightful and refreshing. Careful! It’s somewhat addicting.
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza
3650 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90008