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First Ventura Avenue report - Lalo's mexican

Snackish | Nov 20, 200502:36 PM

I have decided that I have had enough of this upper-middle-class tract-home existence in the Conejo Valley and have moved somewhere decidedly more downscale and where I feel I fit in better – Ventura Avenue in Ventura.

I must say that, as a Chowhound, my heart does not exactly weep at the thought of leaving behind the Cheesecake Factory and PF Changs.

The Avenue area is not lined with high-end eateries, being a historically poor end of town, but there are many opportunities for chowing, especially if you, like me, enjoy Mexican food.

After dropping off some boxes at the new house (Spanish style, from the 40’s, 600 square feet may be stretching it a bit), I slaked my hunger at Lalo’s on the Avenue at McFarlane Street (I think), across from an oil tool place (the area was, and still is, mostly dedicated to oil production).

It looked promising. An old wooden drive-in style shack with a patio on one side and tables out front, order at one window, pick up at the other. Lalo was resting in his signature paper toque (a painting of him is on the front of the building) on the patio.

I ordered a chile relleno combo and waited, watching a small late afternoon crowd come and go. Lots of tattoos and bilingual Spanglish conversations.

The counter guy automatically stuffed my food “for here” in a plastic bag – apparently no one eats at the grubby tables overlooking the Avenue. They all get "to go."

This was reinforced by the nuclear-hotness of my food. If you ordered to go, it would still be good and hot if you traveled less than 10 miles.

The combination in a stryo box, $5.25, was one chile relleno, about three-quarters of a cup each of rice and beans, some shredded iceberg lettuce with a dab each of some green guacamole-like (I do not think any avocados were hurt in the making of that sauce) substance and some thin sour cream. The rosy red rice was topped with a bit of salsa de molcajete and a chiffonade of cilantro. Four corn tortillas on the side, scorching hot.

The relleno was spectacular. Classic batter like an omelette wrapped around a big sweet semi-hot pasilla pepper stuffed with oozing cheese. Not one of those oily heavy batter ones. It was topped with some chile verde which may have had tiny shreds of pork in it, PETA forgive me.

The beans and rice were fine, tortillas a bit hard, guac and sour cream a disappointment. For my money, next time I would get a side of relleno, a side of tortillas and call it a day.

More Mexican adventures to come, stay tuned.

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