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Restaurants & Bars 3

El Coyote and Border Grill

cvc | Dec 27, 200510:03 AM

If the Evangelicals are right and we do go up in an Armageddon like cloud of smoke, the next civilization can rest assured that the cheese enchilada plate they stumble upon among the ruins of El Coyote will pretty much resemble the dish normally served there. A nuclear attack couldn't have more impact. The plate was so hot it might have glowed in the dark with the ranchero sauce topping bubbling more than the tar pits up the street. Still, Mother enjoys such displays (not to mention the margaritas) and especially challenging the waiter's admonishment, "don't touch the plate!"

This was our traditional Xmas Eve lunch and she wanted to go somewhere different. I'm not sure that I can recommend a lot at El Coyote except maybe the kitschy interior and outfits but we did have fun and that's saying something. The chips were light but strangely tasteless. The two salsas seemed identical except for the fact that one is heated and my carnitas, well, the less said the better. Service was friendly but goofy. Five minutes after her enchiladas arrived the waiter waltzed by, noticed I hadn't received my entree and announced, "The kitchen's re-cooking it!" Re-cooking carnitas?! Oh well. It's the holidays. ($33 for two with tip.)

Kurt's earlier post reminded me that I was overdue to get back to Ciudad and Border Grill. I've long been a fan so when a friend suggested that we meet at BG the day after Xmas I whole heartedly accepted. It might be my imagination or it could be their recent bout with Bobby Flay on "The Iron Chef", but the food we had yesterday reminded me of the golden days on Melrose when they were next to L.A. Eyeworks. We both started with a delicious lobster bisque with mushrooms, a chipotle cream and nice flecks of lobster that was well worth the $9. I finished with my favorite pudding like corn tamales while my friend had a wonderfully smoky and tender cochinita pibil. I was introduced to this traditional pork dish by, of all people, Gerri Gilliland and it is still a barometer of sorts. This version is earthy and moist with just the right amount of cinnamon. The plantains had a nice unexpected crispiness and the black beans were tender and delicious. Chips were warm and salty with the tomatillo salsa our favorite. There was no time for their signature desserts. The place was jamming and, of course, few restaurants are adequately staffed the day after a holiday but the service was friendly and accommodating with the young host working hard to fill in the gaps. The only misstep was the delivery of our second course two minutes after receiving the soup but the runner had that sweet yet terrified deer in the headlights look on his face that seemed to say, "I know you're not ready for this but I don't dare take it back. It's now or never!" Oh well. It's the holidays. ($47 for two with tip.)

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