Monday, May 31, 2010
La Cabinita: Que rico after all these years!
I'd go back just for the chips.
Every so often, it's a good idea to check in with an old favorite to make sure it's still worth recommending. I must have started going to La Cabanita in Montrose soon after it opened in 1989. In those days it was half the size it is now and offered only beer and questionable wine margaritas. But we were happy that the food was substantially better than most of the Mexican restaurants of 1990s Silver Lake, and I always ordered the rajas con crema -- homemade tortillas and roasted chiles in cream sauce.
This might have been my first visit back since I started this blog in 2004, and I'm happy to report that for the most part, it was still a good experience -- plus, they've got real margaritas now! I'm not sure why some of the other reviews are so varied, though it's true the service can be a bit slow, it's generally packed with kids and sometimes there's a wait -- but none of this was a problem for us.
I was craving chips before we even sat down, but this basket of freshly-fried, perfectly crunchy chips was the best I've had in ages, with good green and red salsas. Matt really liked the mole enchiladas last time he ate there, but this time he tried chicken tamales with mole and salsa verde -- the sauces were good, but one tamale was overcooked.
My Chiles a la cabinita (above) were stuffed with chicken, almonds and raisins, similar to Chiles en nogada, which they also serve. The overall effect was just a touch too sweet, but balanced out when kicked up with some salsa roja. Handmade tortillas were perfect for sopping up black beans and cheese. The Yelpers are right about one thing -- order the special dishes rather than the usual tacos or burritos for maximum effect.
The verdict? The quality is still there, but La Cabanita's flavors seem just a little muted compared to some newer places. La Cabanita is the same as it always was -- the difference is that it's been joined by Cacao, Yxta, Loteria, Malo and other nuevo-Mexican restaurants that offer more vibrantly-flavored alternatives to the same old Mexican combination plates. Cacao might have an edge in flavor, but La Cabanita's got the booze, so take your pick. Prices are moderate -- higher than a taco joint, lower than say, Rivera.
3445 N. Verdugo Rd., Montrose