I love to be adventurous in my food selections, but often am dumbfounded when trying to select the best restaurant to eat at. Like many people, I do not like making the decision. Let me rephrase that. I don’t like getting stuck with the expectations that come along with choosing the restaurant. Making the ultimate decision means that I am responsible for everyone’s happiness with the meal, ambience, wait, price, etc. Too much pressure and yes all that pressure was put on me by myself.
This happens every time with birthdays, hosting parties, etc. I usually end up being overly worried and stressed if everyone is enjoying themselves, I end up eating way too fast and probably more than my stomach planned for. It can also be a double-edged sword when your dining party has grown up in the restaurant business and can then be overly critical about well, everything. You name it, from the water not being filled up quick enough, to a slow waiter on a very crowded night. Yes, on a crowded night, the waiter probably will be busy, go figure. (My father’s side of the family cough, cough). Anyways, being with them can be a blessing because they do allow us to learn about the good and bad elements of working in such an industry and we are even allowed a behind-the-scenes peek sometimes. That part I adore.
Back to my wonderful dining experience 🙂 Since my sister was off gallivanting with her friend at the Jone’s Coffee Shop food truck night (THE GRILLED CHEESE TRUCK WAS THERE! Slightly in love with grilled cheese or cheese in general), it was just my mom and me, so we decided to go out.
Ready for a not-your average Mexican restaurant? Awhile back, my mom had mentioned going to La Cabanita in Montrose, but like many other things we talk about, I wasn’t sure it would happen. Nope. We made it happen. From the outside, it does look like a sort of rundown restaurant, but on the inside, you are able to see the Mexican charm from the painted walls, tiled borders and benches, and well, a few cheesy piñatas upon the ceiling. Don’t let that last part turn you off though.
We arrived around 7:45 and were surprised that the place was packed and there was a little bit of a wait, maybe 20ish minutes. I wasn’t too sure why there would be such a wait on a Wednesday night, but then again it was still summer and better to have a popular restaurant that turns out excellent food than no wait at a terrible one, right? All the food tasted very fresh and a little more authentic in terms of Mexican food in comparison to other restaurants we have visited. Apparently it is called “Mexico City Style” aka light flavors and not heavy on the cheese. The homemade chips were crisp and not too greasy (or just the right amount that it felt authentic for a restaurant), loved the beginning salsas and couldn’t write a poor review about their margaritas. I ordered the blended strawberry margarita and my mom went with the house blended variety, which on Wednesdays is only $4! I also sampled the horchata because of its solid reviews on Yelp and why not. Dare I say YOLO? Oops, just did.
It had a light, milky flavor that left me with a nice cinnamon aftertaste. Honestly, I felt like there was a slight bubblegum/Christmas flavor going on, but that seems to be how most horchata tastes to me. Almost like it tastes how the inside of STATS smells at Christmas. But, I do approve of ordering this. Since I have been to Valencia, the supposed originator of the refreshing beverage, I can say I have expert knowledge. There are some horchata drinks that end up being WAY too sweet and leave a very obvious sugary aftertaste.
In terms of menu, their entrees serve an excellent portion of food that gives you enough bang for your buck and in most cases, is enough for the next day’s lunch. I’ve been on a less-meat kick (not on purpose, I just like the taste of veggies), so I went with the enchiladas vegetarianas (three corn tortillas with vegetables & topped with the house tomatillo green sauce, sour cream & cheese, served with Mexican rice and black beans. The green sauce was slightly spicy, but just right. Something I enjoyed about the meal was that unlike other places, the sour cream was not globbed or plopped on the food, but rather drizzled lightly, as not to overwhelm the other flavors. It also was served with a fresher and lighter cheese (white crumble), rather than the “Mexican blend” cheddar mix that other places are known for. Also, there was something about their homemade corn tortillas that made the meal out of this world.
My mom was having a difficult time deciding what to order, but ultimately decided on the beef burrito. I think at one point she was debating taco/enchilada combo, but was happy with her decision. She said the meat had a semi-sweet flavor, which surprisingly seemed to have worked with the burrito. I’m usually good about asking to sample my company’s food, but was so enthralled with my own dish, I plumb forgot. How unfortunate would it be if I met a guy that didn’t like to share his food? Red-flag indeed. 😉
Other rave reviews include: chile rellenos marineros, tacos placeros, carnitas, chiles en nogada, chuletas en chile pasilla
Also a good selection of specials, combinations, and a la carte items. I was tempted to order from the kid’s menu since I can sometimes get away with it, but thought that ordering a margarita and a kid’s enchilada (for those under 11) wouldn’t work out so well. But, needless to say there are so many different foods I need to try, I would go back there in a heartbeat!
Other things you might want to know: street parking can be a little difficult to find, especially during the dinner hour; good for groups and accepts credit cards (always a plus); takes reservations (USE THIS!); has take-out AND caters!
3445 N Verdugo Rd
Glendale, CA 91208
I also found that if you try your luck at speaking Spanish (I mean, after three and a half months in Barcelona, I should have the swing of it…maybe?), you gain some brownie points. I was a little nervous because the usual reactions I receive as a blonde hair blue eyed girl speaking Spanish can range from the recipient being ecstatic and responding in their own rapid Spanish or rolling their eyes in responding back in English. I usually receive the former response, but I still get nervous each time. Secretly I feel I am being judged and I’ll have the Spanish grammar police on my back if I mistakenly mix up my verbs or make up a vocabulary word. Then again, practice makes perfect…
Right now I’m trying to convince my dad to test it out (even for take-out). He is a man of few food choices and can be set in his restaurant selections. I guess the guy is loyal, which is good, but really, you can only have Pepe’s tacos so many times.
Here’s a goal I’d like to set. Worry less about what people think and do more of what I want to do. Let’s turn more of the “to-do” list into “completed-list” 🙂 Most of the time, I’m just worried about pleasing people, but I’m sure I’ll find those who like to do similar things and can keep up with my stream of conscious thoughts and behavior. And now that it has been permanently written into cyberspace, I better hold to it!