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Restaurants & Bars 8

Yippee! Westside Mexican

Leslie Brenner | Mar 18, 200201:36 AM

This morning five year-old Wylie was on an outing with his grandma, and relishing the idea of a quick meal during which we could really concentrate on the food, we ducked in to Juquila (Santa Monica Blvd., just east of Barrington) for lunch. Yippee! It was even better than last time I tried it. First, the salsa on the table is so good--a little roasty, medium-spicy, with the perfect lime spike--damned if I didn't consume the contents of the entire bowl. At that moment, the cell phone rang, and it was Wylie, calling from Royal Star. Seems they were waiting for a dim sum table, and did we want to join them. What a heart-stopping moment: torn between two of my favorite Sunday lunches. Yet there we were, and since I had already finished the salsa, I didn't see any way of getting out of there gracefully. And I suppose I didn't really want to. Kid-less Mexican is too much for me to resist. I told Wylie hasta luego. (Side note: Grandma and Great Aunt had taken Wylie to a dog show in the valley, but ten minutes into it, Wylie talked them into driving back over the hill for dim sum. Atta boy!)

As soon as we put in the order, I started kicking myself for not ordering posole (Sunday special), but when my modest order of two tacos came, (cesina and al pastor), they were so perfectly seasoned, garnished comme il faut with a little onion and cilantro, with just the right meat-to-tortilla ratio, really meltingly delicious. Husband had mole amarillo with chicken, beautifully spiced, kind of soupy, with hunks of carrot, zucchini and other vegetables (I don't know what-all because he wouldn't let me have more than one bite). His rice was glorious, so delicious I barely noticed the little puddle of oil it sat upon. I think Juquila may be--dare I say it?--my favorite Oaxacan of the moment. I intend to go back and sample every single menu item in the very near future.

A few nights ago we went to La Cabaña in Venice, a place I hadn't been in, egad, twenty-five years! It hasn't changed much, except for the addition of the tequila bar, which, if memory serves, used to be just a bar with tequila. Well, hello! I was very pleasantly surprised with the food. An excellent maragarita to start--the bottom-of-the-line model, in a small glass, on the rocks, with salt. I'd like one right now, in fact. Then a plato de barbacoa, very flavorful, with great texture.Good rice and beans. Husband had carne adobada, tangy and very good. Best of all, those ladies are still patting tortillas at their post next to the bar! Dark and gloomy in a reassuring sort of way--I'll certainly revisit, and soon.

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