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Restaurants & Bars

Quaint Las Monarcas in Blossom Valley San Jose

Alice Patis | May 15, 200608:19 PM

One of my semi-regular hole-in-wall lunch places near my work, Sheng Kee Noodle, closed a couple months ago. A few weeks ago, Las Monarcas opened in its place. It's owned by a couple from Morelia (in the State of Michoaca), a couple hours from the national monarch sanctuary (hence the inspiration for the restaurant's name). The wife takes the orders/serves and the husband cooks.

The menu has the standard burritos, tacos, platos, and tortas with several choices of meat including chorizo. What caught my eye were the things unknown to me, Alambres and Queso Fundido. I asked for a translation but only understood what was already described on the menu: Alambres come with bell peppers, onions, bacon, cheese, your choice of meat, and served with tortillas. Queso Fundido sounded to me almost the same as the above, but no bell pepper, no bacon.

Since I don't like bell peppers, I went with an order of Queso Fundido, and next had to choose btw mushrooms, chorizo, steak or Chuleta (pork shoulder). I asked if they have Carnitas instead and she said yes, they can make it with Carnitas. Is the Carnitas cooked for a long time? She said no. I was puzzled, so I went with the Chuleta. I added two tacos as backup, one asada and one al pastor. Then I spied the agua frescas, horchata and jamaica. I went for the jamaica (hibiscus), and it's a really nice strong, tart version. Good stuff if you add lots of crushed ice (which I did back at work later).

When I got my takeout box, I realized my ordering mistake. Melted Cheese for takeout, hmmm not a smart idea. By the time I got to eat it 15 minutes later, it was rubbery (though the tortillas were still piping hot). The little cubes of whitish pork didn't add much.

The tacos were better, the al pastor had a nice orange-colored marinade and the bits of canned pineapple interesting. The asada was decent, but not as good as the al pastor.

The best part was the red salsa. It was fiery hot, as in just licking my finger after I opened the lid did me in. Also had a great smoky undertone. Great for pain lovers.

I'll be back to try more of their menu. Since they're from Michoaca, I hope they'll add tamales to the menu.

Image: http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b39...

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