Last month I had a chance to try Yatzeche in Seaside with my parents guided by Ed Dibble's posting on this small Oaxacan place.
We dropped in at 1pm when two other parties were finishing up. Yet, our food took 45 minutes to arrive, and we took note of the two take-out orders and two other tables who arrived after us receiving their food before us. Fortunately, the salsa here is as potent and delicious as described. But you can only eat so many chips before you want some real food.
My mother was sitting where she could watch the snail's pace activity in the semi-open kitchen and was urging me to get back there and help them out. Ten minutes before our first plate was ready, I finally heard the whisking of eggs presumably for the relleno batter and tried to calm down my starving parents that their meal should arrive soon. When I saw my dad's chile relleno sitting on the counter for 45 seconds, I grabbed our waitress and asked her to please bring it and not wait for the other dishes. Our server apologized for the delay, saying that everything was made to order. When I pointed out that the friend/relative of one of the staff who ordered after we did got his plate, ate and departed while we were still waiting, she offered to take 10% off our bill.
I had the tlayuda ($7.95) and would not order it here again. The giant tlayuda corn base was stale. Tough and difficult to break off, let alone chew. Why did I have to wait 45 minutes for a stale tlayuda? The spread of black beans with asiento was tasty, but ruined by the water-logged shredded iceberg lettuce and chunks of hard, unripe avocadoes. The blizzard of queso fresco was a boring substitute for quesillo from Oaxaca.
Dad ordered the chile relleno, $9.95, made with the mild pasilla chile and stuffed with cheese (chicken was another filling option). The battered chile was cooked expertly with a fluffy and light coating of beaten egg. However, the filling was straight queso fresco with no onion, tomato, spices, or even salt to break the monotony. Served without sauce, and yes, I even asked if there was supposed to be anything else accompanying it, this was as bland as can be. The mound of guacamole on the plate looked great, but again, made with unripe avocadoes sans salt, pepper, onion, or any seasonings, totally devoid of flavor.
Mom's order of costillas con nopales in red sauce, $8.95, was the best item and a huge portion to boot. Still it's hard to understand why this braised dish couldn't have been scooped onto a plate in less than 45 minutes. The rice on the plates was quite bland and underseasoned, as well as being too wet and clumpy. The whole beans were good. The thin, handmade tortillas were lovely, and we had a huge pile of them to take home.
Image of our three lunch plates -
I also had the interesting agua fresca of the day, made with chilacayote. This had shreds of savory squash and soft seeds and was only lightly sweetened.
I grabbed the bill (~$30) and paid it quickly so we could get out of there and on our way. When I looked at it later, I could only sigh when I saw that our server had made an error in calculating the discount, removing only a whopping 20¢ (10% of the $2 drink) from our bill. Kind of par for the course.
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