This is the tale of two Mexican restaurant meals.
First up is La Cocina Oaxaqueña. These folks were kind to invite me in for a comped meal. They were eager to show off their food, with the owner explaining that it’s a different type of Mexican restaurant. Everything (possible) is made in-house, he explained, and no burritos are on the menu. It’s a bit of a family-run operation, with the server kind in describing the dishes that his sister prepares in the kitchen.
My strategy at a Mexican restaurant like this is to order a soup or two, as well as what they consider to be a specialty of the house. In this case, it was the mole, which I tried with both chicken and pork. And based on insider information, I also sampled something not listed on the menu: a tlayuda. Overall an enjoyable meal, with soup the highlight.
Second is El Sirenito. This is the fairly new sister restaurant of the popular La Fonda Catrina. The place is getting rave reviews, and I ate here on my own dime. It’s got a more contemporary feel than La Cocina Oaxaqueña, with a more seafood-heavy menu of bites that go well with alcohol. The food was fabulous, with soup again a high point.
Wanting the back-story on ownership and staffing of the restaurant (for a different article I was planning to write), I asked for information about the owner, and was told he was present. But then the manager came over instead and explained that the owner couldn’t talk, apparently having imbibed too much tequila or some other former of alcohol. He offered to send me contact information. Unfortunately, the owner never responded to my interview questions, and the manager ultimately failed in his promise to answer the questions himself. Perhaps they don’t need the publicity, but the behavior is odd for folks in the hospitality industry.