on June 14, 2009
CABO SAN LUCAS RESTAURANT REVIEWMi Casa RestaurantAuthentic Mexican Cuisine In An Authentic Mexican SettingBy Richard Chudy, www.CabosBest.comGood food starts with good ingredients, a handful of trusted recipes and some good people to put them all together. Great food on the other hand, takes a little more work, a little more time, and a whole lot more care and passion. And it starts with the simple things like fresh tortillas. I've been traveling to Baja and the Los Cabos region for longer than I'd care to admit and I've had more than my fair share of meals up and down this rugged finger of desert that splits two seas. Some good, some great, and unfortunately some down right bad. When I think back on the ones I'd call great, each and every one started out with piping hot, steaming fresh tortillas. If you've ever had one, you know what I mean. How something as simple as a tortilla sets the stage for a memorable meal I just don't know, but it does. So when I watched little woven baskets of them making their way to tables all around me, I knew Mi Casa was well on its way to impressing me and my tastebuds.Mi Casa is one of several restaurants owned and operated by the Mi Casa Restaurant Group. Husband and wife, Gunther and Kaisha, started it all and still run the show. One look around Mi Casa and you can see they take obvious pride in their work. Great restaurants should always be about more than just the food they serve. Great restaurants become great because they entice all the senses, not just the sense of taste. Walking through the front door of Mi Casa you get the feeling that you're in for something special. First, your eyes are treated to display after display of Mexican art works. Dia de los Muertos figures, adorned in garb that would make any Mardi Gras or Carnivale regular jealous, sit upon shelfs with myriad Mexican handicrafts. Paintings depicting old Mexico and the people that make up the culture hang from adobe walls basted in ages-old patina. Native plants and flowers pop out from everywhere and lifesize murals tell stories of what Cabo San Lucas was like way back when.Next, your ears take notice of the music that rolls out from the various dining areas, each with their own unique names.... Chimineas, Fuentes.. Carretas (horse drawn carriages). Some of the music comes over the restaurant's stereo system, but more often than not, the music comes from a much more authentic source.... live musicians. On our visit that meant as many as five or six different groups or soloists wandering in day and night. If the music stops, it's quickly replaced with the sound of birds that take refuge from the heat to sing a few songs of their own.dded to the mix of musicians that stroll the grounds are street performers like Mr. Rigo who travels the town with his "fortune-telling" canaries. Sure, it's rehearsed and the canaries talents come from years, even generations of training provided by Mr. Rigo, his father and his father's father, but it is nonetheless unique and stacks up as one more reason to visit Mi Casa. My own personal fortune told of my love of adventure and that a special surprise was coming my way this very night. Father and daughter clown team, Mickey and Mika, and a beautiful Mexican dancer rounded out the evenings entertainment. Watching them perform we saw firsthand how they're able to coax giggles and wide-eyed adoration for their talents from even the stiffest of guests.After taking the time to explore the restaurant's expansive interior – all the while sampling a Mi Casa Margarita made with Don Julio Tequila – my better half Dolores and I settled down at a table and read through Mi Casa's menu. Starters included; "El Queso Fundido a la Mexicana" – a tempting fondue made with Monterrey chesse, pico de gallo and tequila; "La Sopes de Cochinata" – flavorful dough patties filled with a mixture of succulent shredded pork, black beans, onions and cheese; and my personal favorite, "Las Costillas Adobadas con Cerveza" – fall-off-the-bone tender baby back ribs marinated in ancho chiles and beer. For our main course, Dee chose "El Mole Poblano" – a generous portion of fresh chicken smothered in a very well done Mole sauce. Originating in the Puebla and Oaxaca regions of Mexico, Mole's are perhaps one of the most complex sauces ever created. Conjured up from as many as seventy ingredients, Mi Casa's Mole Poblano is crafted using thirty five. The result is a deep, rich brown sauce that, if allowed to linger on the tongue long enough, will evoke so many subtle flavors your tastebuds may just faint. Lightly chocolatey with notes of pumpkin, nuts, fruit, chiles and garlic, this Mole was one of the best we've had and it paired very nicely over chicken.My selection was another "old Mexico" specialty... "El Chile En Nogada" – a roasted and peeled Poblano pepper stuffed with a sweet mixture of sautéed meats, fruits and nuts. To finish off the dish, a rich walnut cream sauce topped with fresh pomegranate seeds – a feat that amazes me since we dined in early May when you'd be hard pressed to find ripe pomegranates, but here at Mi Casa, they grow their own! This dish is a national treasure and is often served as part of the celebrations that take place on Mexico's Independence Day... and it's not Cinco de Mayo. The real Mexican Independence Day falls on September 16th and marks the day one father Hidalgo rang the bell of his little church summoning all patriots to fight for liberty from three centuries of Spanish rule. Mexico's Independence War began and lasted ten long years, and some say that Chile En Nogada took the helm as the national celebratory dish because it has the three colors of Mexico's flag... red, white and green. While I'm no historian, I am quite well qualified to render an opinion on Mi Casa's version. It's simply excellent! Chile En Nogada is a dish I've used many times as a gauge of an "authentic" Mexican restaurant's credentials and with no hesitation I can say this was how it is supposed to be.... smoky and slightly crisp, the poblano chile was devoid of the often searing heat I've encountered at other restaurants. The walnut cream sauce melded beautifully with the filling and the tartness of the pomegranate seeds finished the dish off perfectly.Mi Casa's wine list may not be long, but the wines they do have on hand are a good representation of some of Baja's best, and wine afficianados worldwide are starting to take serious notice of the still reasonably priced wines produced in the northern end of the Baja peninsula. Malbec's from Argentina are one of my favorites, and with the assistance of Mi Casa's manager, Guillermo (or Memo as he likes to be called) a bottle of 2007 LaFlor Malbec from De Pulenta vineyards was chosen. The Malbec complimented both our meals nicely and at a very reasonable, down-right-cheap $23, it was a bargain to boot. Rounding out the wine list are selections from the Napa, Sonoma and Alexander valleys as well as a nice mix of wines from Chile and Italy. Most bottles are priced well below what other restaurants in Los Cabos sell the very same vintage for... seems Mi Casa is more concerned with their guests enjoyment then they are in making a high margin of profit. To cap off our dinner, we were treated to a wonderful Chocolate Terrine finished with Tequila and Mescal. Velvety smooth with a note of Amaretto-like nuttiness, the dish was shared by us as our bellies were full and we were feeling a bit heady from the Margaritas and the wine, but in oh such a good way! As I sat back and gave thought to the afternoon and evening spent at Mi Casa, I remembered something a little birdie told me.... the little birdy being Mr. Rigo's canary. "Something special is coming your way tonight" the little bird's note told me. Something special indeed... and it's called a night in Old Mexico... to be more specific, a night at Mi Casa. If the sign in the restaurant is true, then I'm awful glad that Mi Casa is, well My Casa!!
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