A few Saturdays ago my sister and I stopped at Gaetas to pick up some tamales on our way down to Salinas. We hadnt eaten anything yet, so took at look at the menu too. In addition to the regular selection on the board overhead, a couple makeshift signs offered taco de pescado and sopa de albondigas.
While I was considering the albondigas, an order came up on a tray at the cash register that let us see what it looked like. The woman behind us in line started to rhapsodize about the albondigas, gushing that it was her favorite thing here and so delicious.
Stephanie ordered the fish taco. I insisted that she take a seat and consume it on the spot while it was still crispy. She added a bit of the spicy green salsa for some extra kick. She pronounced the lightly battered and fried fish very good garnished with shredded cabbage and a small amount of creamy white dressing.
I took my albondigas order to go. Id not been able to keep any solid food down for 40 hours and thought it prudent to wait until we had reached our destination in case of any GI mishaps. The quart-size portion of meatball soup with Mexican rice and tortillas on the side was still steaming hot when we got to our parents.
While Id had Spanish albondigas before, this was my first encounter with the Mexican-American version. I was startled at the big size of the meatballs. Rather pale in color without any pan-seared markings, they seemed to be a mixture of coarse-textured pork and beef plus rice and onions. The defatted chicken stock tasted homemade with moderate concentration of flavor and no sensation of a bouillon base booster. The fresh-tasting and mild soup also had large tender chunks of zucchini, potato, and carrots. For this first sampling, I skipped adding any of Gaetas lethally hot salsas. Stirring in a couple spoonfuls of the rice and with a warm corn tortilla at hand, this simple soup became an excellent dose of comfort to soothe an upset tummy.
An order of albondigas cost about $7, mas o menos, and I got three meals out of it. Later, as I was able to tolerate it, I added a bit of Gaetas very spicy red salsa to the mix, and enjoyed that even more.
Gaetas is a couple blocks west of 101 in the shopping center on the south side of East 10th. It shares a building at the front of the parking lot with Pink Elephant Panaderia the rice pudding is pretty good, skip the pumpkin empanada.
340 E 10th St # D
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