On a Saturday about a month ago we decided to head for the hills and get out of the cold damp tule fog here in the valley. Our little trip was prompted by an Oct. 20 article in our paper's food section (linked below).
North Fork is about 15-20 min. to the east of Hwy 41 from a point about halfway to Coarsegold. Up to now, one would never consider NF as a destination much less consider using the word "dining" in the same sentence. Most travelers continue on up 41 to the new casino, Erna's Elderberry House in Oakhurst, Bass Lake or on to Yosemite. Locals however know that the back way to Bass Lake through NF is a most pleasant alternative route.
The town's economy has been depressed for decades since the closing of the lumber mill so I was completely surprised to hear that La Cabana has been open for 9 years.
Four of us descended on the place just before noon with the intention of trying as many of the non-traditional items as possible. We went with a couple of orders of the molotes, shredded meat (pork IIRC) wonderfully spiced and tender in a turnover, two orders of the deep fried quesadillas, and an order of the sopes. We had hoped to try the sopa tarasca (their version of tortilla soup) but unfortunately it wasn't ready yet. Our mouths were also watering for the huachinango con nopales, (red snapper and cactus) and the Yucatecan cochinita pibil (pork wrapped in bacon and banana leaves, cooked with fresh pineapple juice) but apparently these along with some of the other great sounding choices are available only for dinner. Lacking any of these we added an order of huevos rancheros and the chilaquiles in tomatillo sauce. In a word, the food was fantastic. The black beans on the sopes were cooked perfectly with great depth of flavor (from bacon I believe and extra spices) on the fresh corn flavored masa cake, quesadillas were a nice departure from what we're used to. The huevos rancheros were more of a minimalist presentation than we're used to, but an excellent offering using local farm fresh eggs. They also use a lot of locally grown organic produce. I had never had chilaquiles before but am now addicted.
Before we were even half way through lunch we were planning a return trip deciding that next time we would get our radiation treatment and cocktails on the deck of Ducey's at Bass Lake and have our evening meal at La Cabana on the way home.
La Cabana is a family effort of Miguel and Patricia Arce. Miguel is a brother of Fernando Madrigal (of Fresno's former beloved Don Fernando's and currently at Citron) and Patricia was a breakfast cook at Erna's.
La Cabana is located on the left side of the main road (Road 225?) as it drops down off the ridge into the town's business area, used to be a hamburger stand. There is seating inside for about 30 and room for another 20 or so on the outside patio in nice weather. It's surrounded by forested slopes so would be pleasant even in the hot summer months.
The place was about half full when we arrived but filled up before we received our first dishes. Word is that reservations (esp. Fri-Sat) are a must. Speaking with a local from the NF area I learned that people drive the back roads from Coarsegold, Oakhurst, Bass Lake and beyond on a regular basis.
If your idea of fine Mexican food equates to soft booths and gringofied settings and cuisine in the well to do urban areas, this is not your place, just keep on going to the commercial establishments along the highway. On the other hand, if you're adventurous and seeking something other than boring and blah this is an oasis in an otherwise culinary desert.
32754 Road 222
10:30 AM - 3:00 PM Lunch
10:30-7:30 Takeout window
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