I had eaten at Dona Emilia's on E. 7th at Comal several times (NE corner) before it moved downton, and now its original outpost's name has changed to Casa Colombia from Mi Colombia, so I feel that it is worth a post given my conviction that the food at the restaurant's latter incarnations are better than the downtown pseudo-offshoot.
At the downtown Dona Emilia's, I recently went to meet some colleagues at a happy hour and drank a just o.k. sangria that wasn't nearly as good as the white wine sangria version Fonda San Miguel offers. Dona Emilia's goat cheese, arepa, and cajeta appetizer was pretty dried out--the corn-meal based arepas bordered on unappetizing and because of the icky taste I suspect it was fried in rancid oil, and the cajeta wasn't great, though I do love goat cheese and cajeta in any forms these ingredients might take under normal conditions. The shrimp ceviche also didn't taste very fresh, and the shrimp was both tough and mushy, if that makes any sense, probably due to over-marination in the citrus marinade. That was all the kind-of-gross-food I could really stomach on that visit, and in general, I take it a bad sign if my stomach starts to rebel..
At both Mi Colombia and Casa Colombia, on the other hand, after several visits I have had absolutely delicious versions of ropa vieja which I now crave on a semi-weekly basis; for anyone who is unfamiliar, this is a stewed Cuban dish which involves a slow-braised skirt steak served fork-tender with onions, peppers, olives, and tomatoes and perhaps capers with rice and maduros (delicious fried overripe and slightly sweet plantains seasoned with lime juice and salt. I've made these at home, and you have to make sure they are really overripe for them to turn out correctly). This small hound can bury her head in this dish, barely coming up for air at all as it is so deliciously good. This dish is served with an extremely mediocre iceberg salad; please, please, please, make sure to ask for the cilantro dressing which is much better than the bottled Italian they will otherwise give you, and I have no idea why a South American restaurant serves such an insipid dressing. The bistec Criolla is also very tender and good, and it is a little more spicy than the ropa vieja. When this restaurant operated under the Mi Colombia moniker, it offered a pappas rellenos appetizer which was comprised of mashed potatoes wrapped around a slightly spicy ground beef filling; it also came with a spicy habanero salsa that was very good, though I haven't seen this appetizer on the current menu. My boyfriend loves the fish with cilantro and with a milanesa (I think mayonnaise) crust, and I agree that it is very good, though tilapia in general tastes a bit muddy to me so I tend to stick with the ropa vieja.
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