Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Taqueria Guadalajara

We ended up at a new restaurant last night with Billy and Shawn, a restaurant that a bartender at PaveMint had recommended to us a few weeks back. Our dinner plans started at the paella party on Sunday when Shawn, realizing that the next day would be Halloween, asked me what we generally do for Halloween. I told her that we leave the house and go out to eat until the ruckus is all over (that's only partially true: usually I am at work on one of the slowest nights of the year). She thought that was a good idea and asked if we'd like to go to Guadalajara on Monday. And so we all arrived there around 6:30 on Halloween.

I didn't know anything about it really except a couple of people had mentioned that they were trying to do something more upscale than your standard crap-Mex place. The sign out front said "Gourmet Mexican Cuisine," pretty unusual for our market. I took it as a good sign that of the two occupied tables when we arrived, one was an 8-top of Mexican laborers who looked mostly to be eating big bowls of posole. The interior, though sparsely decorated, is much better looking than a typical hole in the wall.

The menu that we were given is markedly different from the run-of-the-mill carbon copy menu that all the other Mexican joints in town serve. It consists of a single page with appetizers and soups in the left column, "rellenos," fillings for tacos, burritos, sopes, and the like in the middle column, and a short list of somewhat unusual entrees on the right. After this was a drink list and the third page was a short wine list, a dozen offerings from a local distributor. Kudos to them for trying to serve wine, though I didn't see any takers.

We started with drinks, a Negra Modelo for me and margaritas all around. The first thing we noticed was that the margaritas came in nice-looking glasses and were clearly made from fresh juice and garnished with a chile seco. Negra is always a good standby beer for me. The menu offered Laughing Dog's Sneaky Pete Imperial IPA, a huge favorite of mine, but at about 10% alcohol and served only in bomber-sized 22-ouncers, it was more than I wanted to bite off on a night where I needed my wits about me to dodge all the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood.

Negra Modelo, Always Reliable

Nice Margarita, Nice Glass
I'm not one to order chips and salsa, but Ann is and did. They're certainly trying with multicolored chips, but I don't care what color my chips are as long as they are fresh. The salsa was decent with a hint of smokiness, but was desperate for salt, like all the dishes as we would come to find out.

Nice Chip Presentation
Whenever I first eat in a Guadalajaran or Jaliscan restaurant, I will order the torta ahogada to see where the restaurant stacks up on this most traditional of dishes. I was hoping for a traditional bolillo (aka birote) roll for the sandwich but that might be too much to ask out here in the boonies with limited distribution. My sandwich came on a fairly standard torta roll which is really too soft to stand up the drowning that a true ahogada requires; my sandwich was barely wet. I should have asked for it bien ahogada, good and drowned. The pickled onions on top of the sandwich instead of their usual placement off to the side I thought was a nice touch. The extra dipping sauce was killer spicy: I loved it! Bottom line, the torta ahogada, probably the only one you can get in this whole area, was middle of the road. But then, small land wars have been fought over less contentious issues than what constitutes the perfect ahogada. A better roll would help this one.

Torta Ahogada
Billy went for the carnitas, the same meat that was in my ahogada and didn't seem to have any complaints. Shawn got a taco trio of pescado, carnitas, and birria, the Jaliscan goat stew. Ann had the birria in her burrito, which was vast enough for two people. I had a couple of bites and enjoyed it.

Birria Burrito
I'm really glad that someone in Winchester is trying to up the ante in terms of Mexican food, which can be so good, but which has been dumbed down to a paltry shadow of what it should be in most of the US. I can't see any reason that we should not visit them more frequently and do our part to help keep them in business, which is going to be tough in a town and in a segment that everyone has relegated to cheap eats.

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