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la casita mexicana & los reyes bakery - long

ks | Nov 5, 200511:21 AM

As I was looking up information on La Casita or its fuller name of La Casita Mexicana or Cenduria la Casita Mexicana, I came across an article from 2002 in Los Angeles Magazine mentioning Los Reyes Bakery next door that sells pan de muertos. So, it seemed like a good idea to plan an outing to both and what better day than November 2nd?

I was a little worried the bakery wouldn’t still be open by the time we wanted to get to dinner. When we got to the restaurant around 8pm, I found I shouldn’t have worried – the bakery is open 24 hours/day (except Friday and Saturday when it closes at 10:30pm). One of my friends was in the bakery waiting for us so I went in to let her know we were there…

…and the smell!! This is the most fragrant bakery – just amazing. You pick up a tray in the room you enter and then go into the next room with some tongs and just pull stuff off racks. The breads are really fresh, trays were brought out as we were there. We went back after dinner and picked up some things. I got four different types of rolls/breads for $1.45. I don’t know all the names – I really have to work on my panaderia vocab. I split a pan de muertos with a friend and it was lovely. Reminded me of challah, eggy and rich, but light.

Then on to the restaurant next door. I heard about the chefs who own this place on Good Food a few weeks back – apparently it’s been open for a while. The chefs are interested in seasonal, regional, authentic food – if you go to the link below you can download their menu that has their philosophy on the first page. They also have been getting produce from that community garden down on Alameda that’s going to be shut down by some Brentwood developer so he can build a warehouse. I wish many mediocre, bland, indifferent meals on that man and maybe the occasional case of miserable food poisoning. But back to the restaurant….

There were five of us and we all ordered different things – except to drink. Four of us got the limon agua fresca with chia seeds and one got the horchata which I realize now I didn’t try, so can’t report on it. The limon was tasty – I’ve not had chia seeds before. (As far as I know none of us woke up with grass growing out of heads the next morning) Interesting texture in the drink, refreshing.

When we arrived they brought out tortilla chips drizzled with different moles, very delicious. We tore through these and they brought more. We split an order of queso with squash blossoms - this came with lovely fresh tortillas, some red from chiles. We also got bowls of vegetable soup with our mains (except the pozole) – it was good, mushroomy and salty.

We tried:

Enchiladas with three sauces. Mole & pipian with chicken filling. This was the most beautiful dish. All the sauces are good, but the green pipian sauce I could eat with a spoon from the pot. Incredible.

Chiles en nogada: Again gorgeous. This was the first time I’ve tasted this dish. I wasn’t expecting the sauce to be mildly sweet, but nuttier. Anyway it was good, I’d like to try other versions as well – especially since pomegranites are in season.

Chile rellenos with nopales and mushrooms: Very good combo – this may even be vegan, but maybe there was cheese, can’t remember.

Red posole with pork. Excellent, especially when some of the hotter salsa on the table was drizzled in with the lime & cabbage and other stuff.

Enchiladas with chicken and potatoes. This was what I ordered on the rec. of our waiter. It was cheese enchiladas with chicken and potatoes on the side. Homey and a little salty, but interesting. The cheese enchiladas were most definitely not the cheeeeeesy tex-mex type I avoid like the plague. Nice sauce and crumbly cheese on the inside, simple and not heavy.

No room for dessert after all that – which was a shame, the list looked really good. The service was great - young staff, but conscientious and friendly. They have menus in both Spanish and English.

The total for five of us was $66 before tip.

I would definitely like to return here. I think there is still much to explore on the menu and I really want more of that pipian sauce.

Los Reyes Bakery, 4026 E. Gage Ave., Bell, 323-562-2253.
Cenaduria la Casita Mexicana, 4030 E. Gage Ave., Bell, 323-773-1898


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