Walking up to Mi Casa Mexican restaurant does not instill much confidence of our meal ahead. There is a sign in the window that says the business is for sale. The sign on the door says that the owners are retiring. The place is completely empty at 6 PM on a Tuesday night. Is it closing for a reason? Is it already closed? But, it is the kind of place we have enjoyed in the past, so we venture inside.
One of the owners welcomes us and asks us to choose our seat (table versus booth). She offers to get us beverages from her beer, wine and margarita menu, or soft drinks or iced tea. She explains that her husband and she moved here 30 years ago when he was transferred with the military. He has retired once and went back to work. This time, they really are moving back to El Paso, Texas. They are hoping to have the business sold before they go. She states that the restaurant serves foods like their mothers made. All foods are homemade from fresh ingredients, using spices and chili peppers for flavorings instead of salt.
This wonderful and gracious Senorita tells us that they started the business by selling her “Arriola’s Famous Salsa” at the Bellevue Farmer’s Market. She then sold her famous “Brisket tacos” at the Farmer’s Market, and then opened the business due to demand and people encouraging her to expand her offerings. We are cautiously optimistic.
The Food and the Service:
Patty and Jim arrived and we ordered a round of drinks and the “Trio” appetizer. The salsa-n-chips, Chile Con Queso and Guacamole ($12) arrive quickly and each one is better than the one before. The salsa has a nice “kick” to it. This is not the usual watery, tomatoey salsa. This is worth buying a pint ($5) to take home. The chili con queso has roasted Anaheim peppers and jalapenos and creamy melted cheese. Wow. This is delicious! And their guacamole is amazing! We literally are licking the bowls. Delicious appetizers! Great first impression of their food.
The guys try the Brisket Tacos. Two soft shelled flour tortillas filled with slow-cooked, marinated brisket and topped with cheese served with a side of rice, beans and their salsa ($10). The guys agree that this is delicious and tasty. The salsa adds some needed zip to the traditional sides of beans and rice. They have absolutely no suggestions for improving this one.
Sarah tried the Fish Tacos ($10) which their 3 sons gave input into how to build this. Lightly seasoned cod is grilled and served on 2 corn tortillas, topped with shredded red cabbage and drizzled with homemade avocado sauce. Delicious. A side of the rice and beans accompanies the Fish tacos, and a spoonful of salsa adds a bit of zip to the sides. Well done.
Patty tried the Gallina en Mole ($9); savory chicken in a spicy/sweet Mole sauce. Served with a side of warm flour tortillas and rice and beans. Patty declared that this is the standard which she will compare all Mole from now one. Tender chicken, fantastic Mole sauce with just a hint of cocoa powder. The flavors are sweet, bitter, fruity, earthy and piquant. Patty is impressed.
We wished: We wished we would have discovered this place sooner, or that she wasn’t closing or selling. This is the perfect place for south of the border food, cooked and served by people that know how to do it.
We all agreed that the portions were perfect. Not humongous. They focus on quality, healthy, tasty foods rather than huge portions. You will come back for more. As we celebrated Patty’s birthday, we tried the Sopipillas, 4 light and perfectly fried (definitely not greasy), airy puffs of delicious dough, with honey to drizzle over the top. Yummy way to finish the meal.
For whoever is lucky enough to buy this business, be sure to negotiate and get their recipes. They have a small gold mine with the recipes alone.
Oh, and by the way; by the time we left, the place was fairly busy with families and couples and friends enjoying a delectable meal the way a mom in El Paso might have fixed it.
They have a full menu with all expected “Mexican” offerings other than fajitas.
if you try this place, you won’t be sorry.