“Hola, senior como estas?” *tries to think back to Spanish 1*
“Uhhh…… uhhh… um, bien. Can I order something?” *faux spanish-english accent* *waitress stares weirdly* Oh… let me get you a menu.
Last night, originally I was going to do a segment on Korean barbeque. However it wasn’t my cup of tea at the moment so I decided to hold off on it. After some research on the iPhone it led me to this week’s highlight…
Behold, Hawaiian Gardens. A place where there’s not much of Hawaii but there’s a ton of plazas that could serve as substitute gardens. Corny joke but really, it’s a desolate city. I didn’t expect to find anything remarkable, that is until I parked into the lot and entered Casa Adelita. To give you a quick history lesson of the name, Casa in spanish means house. And Adelita (in German, and Spanish means Noble; The term Adelitas (or soladeras), were the women soldiers who fought in the Mexican Revolutionary war next to the men,being immortalized through a famous song named “La Adelita” source.
Now back to the present topic…
At first glance, it’s your standard run of the mill Mexican joint (or late night grub spot, depending if you’re that type of person; drunk, high, whatever).
A single LCD, showcasing the best in traditional Mexican dance (dancing with the ranchers, with a bit more emphasis on the rancher look). The blasting of random Mexican mariachi music. Hawaiian Gardens turned into Ciudad Juaraz for the rest of my experience.
A waitress seated me and immediately tried to spark a conversation in Spanish. But my Spanish skills sucked balls and as you can tell from the introduction of this post, being much more noticeable and awkward to communicate with her or anyone of Latin descent. As I sat down in a small booth, I noticed the plethora of condiments:
Furthermore, here are some covert interior shots I took without looking too much of an obvious creeper to other customers within the restaurant:
As you can see most of the seating is favor of the booth variety. A little clash of cobalt and maybe pencil grey, gives you that diminishing retro feel. What’s also noted now after reflection on the experience as a whole is their penchant for Camaron (Shrimp) and their awesome deals (3 Tacos, or grande Tacos precisely with a drink for $5.95, you can’t beat that). In any case it was only a matter of time until this plopped onto the table:
Everyone on Yelp clamored about this dish. And it’s kind of funny how this particular Appetizer rivals the offerings of El Farolito (Placentia, CA) which they also offer a bomb chips and salsa dip. The tanginess of the salsa, a bit of spice from the red and green peppers and the runny drips of red picante (spiciness) slid down my throat, bite after bite…Drop after drop.
After a good starting point, she then provided me with this next classic favorite of mine:
Will you look at the char on that pork? Although in traditional sense Al Pastor (or Shephard’s style) as it is known for to Turkish and Greek style cuisines, as a lamb style meat off the meat spit (that spinning thing you see meat hanging from in the middle eastern restaurants). Mexican Al Pastor, unless specified in using lamb, most of them use Pork and prepared it in style. The cilantro adding a nice shade of green and flavor, with the warm grande (medium) sized tortilla and squeeze of lemon, make an exceptional first course. Crispy, juicy and slightly smoked, is a good indicator of quality with this dish.
Finally, their piece de resistance (in French translated as their center piece) basically what they’re fucking known for. Is none other than:
You’re probably thinking to yourself, this looks like a girnormous (gigantic enormous) Enchilada. You got the cheesy and tomato blanket exterior, the pool of tomato sauce its sitting on, the slice of tomato in your face, with its two homies sour cream and guacamole (which I find pretty exceptional in quality). I usually dislike guacamole, because it’s too runny in texture (like raw egg yolks or uni) and I really hate that shit, but this stuff, I could bare and it actually blends well with the rest of the interior ingredients as shown here:
The mystery is no more, as I split this burrito in half. Out comes an explosion of white rice, cilantro, a hint of red pepper spice and of course enough Carne Asada to sustain your carnivorous cravings. Mix it well with the condiments provided and you got yourself a chewy, beefy, cheesy, runny and hearty type of dish; Serving as the symbolic qualities you expect from a traditional Mexican meal.
After paying for my meal and leaving the premises, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Why is he hyping this place up so much?” Well if you haven’t already noticed, Southern California in particular has a lot to thank the Latino community for. Not only for its hard work in contributing to many of your favorite restaurants (hole-in-the-walls or fine dining), while their culinary recipes have stayed relevant and influential in United States cuisine (especially those who live near the border: California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
When the Mexican Revolutionary war happened, during the 1900s many Mexican families and individuals displaced during the violence and came here to the U.S. for a better (and safer) life. To this day, thousands more immigrant families (through illegal passage or citizenship tests) come here to have a new beginning. We represented as a country that thrived on taking in foreign neighbors for refuge. Now many of them are cursed for taking our (hard work and grungy) jobs in our era of economic recession (especially within the restaurant industry).
As a final note, the next time you eat a Taco Bell taco. Or, purchase Mexican Suckling Pig (from Rick Bayless’ flagship restaurant Frontera Grill in Chicago, IL). Mexican cuisine definitely made a historical mark not only in our kitchens but also in our American appetites. And that is a revolution, in and of itself is worth revisiting time and time again.
11976 Carson Street
Hawaiian Gardens, CA 90716