Wow! Wow! After my less than satisfying experience at Luna Park last week, Babita was a revelation. Tiny little place in San Gabriel, but lots of flavor coming out of the kitchen. I'm definitely now a big fan and would go back and in fact, would recommend it to others as well.
The meal started with tortilla chips and a salsa with a definite punch. I'm pretty sure that the tortilla chips were made at the restaurant. They weren't these thin, plastic tasting ones you normally are served at most Mexican restaurants. They were good solid chips and didn't fall apart as soon as you dipped them in the salsa bowl. They had also a nice crunch and flavor to them.
For my starter, I had the Caesar salad and must say I was pretty disappointed with it. I didn't like the texture of the dressing. It seemed kind of thick and there wasn't much flavor to it. You'd think the anchovy would give it that saltiness, but it was a pretty bland salad.
My entree was a knockout! Yum, yum, yum! I ordered cochinta pibil, which consists of achiote pork baked in banana leaves, served with pickled cabbage, onion and also creamy black beans. I wasn't sure how they were cooked, but it just had a smoothy, creamy, buttery texture to it that I really liked.
The pork was so tender. All I needed was my fork to cut into it and the sauce was just so flavorful. We were also served corn tortillas and those corn tortillas were excellent by the way. They were thick, warm and you can really taste the corn. I actually tore up pieces just to dip in the sauce, even after I finished the pork.
The pickled cabbage was a good complement to the "saltiness" of the pork. The black beans came in a little tortilla bowl and the consistency was so creamy, it was amazing. Just spread some on your
tortilla, add some pork, the pickled cabbage, roll it up, dip in the sauce and what more could you possibly need? Just a fantastic dish.
I had a bite of the roasted pork loin from my friend's order and oh my gosh, the sauce was so good. Someone at our table commented that the pork loin which was in a square shape and topped with a very dark chocolate colored sauce looked like a chocolate cake. Looking like chocolate cake was where the resemblance ended. The pork was also very tender and the sauce had nice, strong, smoky, slightly sweet flavor to it. I just had one bite, but that one bite made a really strong impression. That sauce, by the way, was a red wine reduction, chipotle and plum sauce.
For dessert, I ordered the guava pie. Their guava pie was like a cheesecake. While I thought the pie crust was a little hard, I loved the filling. It really tasted like guavas, but considering the strong, pungent flavors of a guava, it shouldn't be surprising. What was nice was that there was no effort to tone down the strong flavor of the guava in this dessert. It was all there for you to either enjoy or not.
Overall, a really truly fantastic dinner at Babita. I can't recommend this place. The address is below:
1823 S San Gabriel Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Cross Street: East Norwood Place