La Casita Mexicana

4030 East Gage Ave.
Bell, CA 90201
casitamex.com

Imagine my surprise as I was looking through the top 25 Southern California Restaurants in the 2013 OAD Restaurant Survey and there was a restaurant from the city of Bell ranked 20th.  Bell is a small city infamously known for the 2010 City Official corruption scandal; it is definitely not a place I would expect to find one of the top restaurants in Southern California.

We arrived for an early dinner and La Casita Mexicana was half full.  The restaurant is decorated with vivid colors reminiscent of Mexico, the walls painted orange and tables cloths a bright pink.  Chefs Jaime and Ramiro were seated at a nearby table, enjoying a meal with several friends.

Instead of the chips and salsa you would typically get at a Mexican restaurant, chips are served with three types of mole, a traditional poblano mole and green and red moles.  The moles were very good.  All three had great flavor and consistency, the traditional had the classic sweet and bitter notes and the red and green moles had good spice and nuttiness.  My favorite of the three was the green mole, it had a subtle heat and a rich, creamy flavor that really complimented the crispy chips wonderfully.  All dishes also include a soup of the day, this evening the soup was lentil soup.  The soup was expertly seasoned and the lentils were nicely balanced by the spices and a touch of lime.

Traditional Mole Poblano with Chicken

Traditional Mole Poblano with Chicken

Chile en Nogada

Chile en Nogada

For our main courses we ordered the traditional mole with chicken and the chile en nogada.  The chicken was slightly overcooked but was nicely infused with the complex flavors of their 46 ingredient mole.  The rice that came with both dishes was seasoned well.  The chile en nogada is a chile stuffed with meat, dried fruits, walnuts, candied cactus and served under a pecan cream sauce with pomegranate seeds.  The chile had good crunch and heat, the pomegranates added bursts of sweet and sour, the pecan sauce was sweet and creamy and the meat gave the dish some body and a savory element.  Overall, the dish was a little too sweet for my tastes.  I wish they would have added more salt to the meat mixture in order to emphasize the savory element of the dish.  I added some table salt to the dish and it did give a little more balance to the sweet entrée.  We decided to split an order of their churros con cajeta for dessert.  The churros were crispy and flaky on the outside and soft with a touch of salt on the inside.  The touch of salt helped to balance the sugar dusting and cajeta, this was one of the best churros I have ever had.

Churros con Cajeta

Churros con Cajeta

Service was solid and at the conclusion of the meal Chef Jaime got up from his table and walked over to us to ask how our meal was.  It was a genuine gesture and its things like this that make guests feel welcome when you walk through the doors of La Casita Mexicana.  While perusing their website I saw that Chefs Jaime and Ramiro had been featured on an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay where they defeated Chef Flay in battle chile relleno.  I wish we ordered the chile relleno instead of the chile en nogada.  Overall, we had a good meal; the flavors of the moles were well developed and the dishes were reasonably priced.  It probably wouldn’t make my top 25 SoCal restaurant list but I’m fairly certain its the best restaurant in Bell.

La Casita Mexicana on Urbanspoon

One thought on “La Casita Mexicana

  1. ?parajumpers

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