Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Traveling to Texas -- Monica's Aca y Alla

It was vital that we quickly get a hot basket of chips and some salsa in front of us as soon as possible. For lunch on day 2 we made it to Monica's Aca y Alla. For longtime readers, you may recognize this is my standard bearer for Mexican food. Monica's is exactly the kind of restaurant I would love to open. Very reasonable prices for first-rate food, great service, and an inviting ambiance. I have always had a delicious meal, served right.

We were joined by J2, my brother, who loves Monica's delicious Mexico City and Tex-Mex cuisine as much as I do. Shortly after being seated, a basket of warm tri-colored chips was delivered to the table with a couple of bowls of their astounding salsa. Why is it astounding. They thought about it. It's clear that the taste, the texture, the strenth of the salsa, mattered to someone who was able to affect my experience at the restaurant. No one flavor was overpowering, bit of cilantro, fresh tomatoes, touches of cumin and salt. This is a major salsa experience for the table.

We started with the white queso. A jalapeno sonoma cheese base anchors this trademarked cup oh heaven dotted with bits of peppers and spinach. The texture bounces around that line of molten goodness and thick, rich cheesiness that just plain makes me happy to eat. It is impossible to stay out of.

Judging from the consistent freshness of the chips, I opted for beef fajita nachos. Now Monica's can do some killer funky Mexican so I always feel encouraged to opt for the more unique dishes. The kicker here though is that restaurants that can do the funky or unique often do the basics very well. My beef fajita nachos were no exception. Tender bits of meat packed with the flavor of a delicious marinade and then grilled with perfection rested under and over just-melted cheese and a handful of finely chopped tomatoes and onions. Slathered on the chips but refusing to make them soggy was a generous helping of smoky refried black beans. I just love with refried beans have a bold character and are not thrown into a dish or onto a dish just for the hell of it. Again, someone thought about how this food was supposed to taste and cared about the experience of the diner. That is just damn fantastic.

I'll let T fill in about his dish. Next stop . . .more X-mas treats.

1 comment:

Jon said...

I just had a plate of Tostito's, sour cream, melted Kraft Mexican cheese and salsa the other day for lunch. They were so good, I can't even begin to imagine what authentic chips and salsa taste like. yum.