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After three years in France, my first stop for Mexican food was my old favorite, Cacao (see my previous post here). A GIGANTIC serving of guacamole was conveniently served in a plastic container ready to cover and take home to go. The serving was easily enough for four people and although I didn’t have a ruler with me, I’m guessing it was 6″ in diameter and 2″ deep! The fresh home made chips had a nice spicy sprinkling if you didn’t want one of the two salsas, one spicy, one not.

Lovely touches like rosemary table water set this place apart from the plethora of other Mexican places in Los Angeles.

Mission Fig Mole Poblano with free range airline chicken breast, topped with homemade mole sauce, marcona almonds, and sesame seeds, side of calabacitas, a vegetable mix of zucchini, squash, corn, and tomato for $19.95 is a great choice if you have never had home made mole. The quality of the chicken breast was evident with every moist bite, and the portion was generous enough to feed 2 or one very hungry athlete.

I couldn’t decide whether I wanted my red snapper fish tacos fried or grilled so I got one of each for $3.95 each. The fried version used Alesmith brown beer batter, both topped with crema, cabbage, pico de gallo and salsa, and the grilled version was perfectly grilled. Even after eating both versions, I still would want both because I would have been unable to pick a favorite; it’s like trying to decide if you prefer regular bacon or billionaire’s bacon for your BLT 🙂

During lunch they offer a taco truck special of three tacos with a non alcoholic drink, rice and beans for $9.95. I chose the carne asada and adored the grilled scallions on the side as much as the classic asada.

Their menu encompasses all the classics, a few twists, like sea urchin, duck, and Korean style kalbi. There are several vegetarian options, and people come in just to buy their chips or get orders to go because quality and care are two  of the most important ingredients in any dish. Eagle Rock may be a bit of a trek for most Angelenos, but it’s closer than Mexico 🙂

Anyone who knows me at all, also knows that as a general rule, I do not eat Mexican or Chinese food. So even wonderful places for those types of cuisines will probably never make it onto my restaurant list, much less into my mouth. The old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt”, is my reason for shunning both; I grew up in a Chinese restaurant and I worked in a Mexican one (please don’t ask so I won’t have to tell).

For a Mexican place to even make it into a conversation with me about food is remarkable, but when TWO food connaisseurs tell me about the same place and rave about it, I will make the trek to Eagle Rock (a 20 mile drive) just to satisfy my curiosity and try the place. I am so very glad I did. Ca Cao is not only a restaurant, it’s a deli, so many of the items they serve are available for sale to take home, from the tortillas to the sauces and everything in between. You will want to do that because they make EVERYTHING here (yes, that includes the tortillas)!

The chips here are the BEST I have EVER eaten (having worked in a Mexican restaurant, this was the one smell I could never get out of my nostrils at the end of the night). Made fresh daily and sprinkled with a delectable seasoning, they were great without either accompanying (freshly made) sauce.

Ca Cao is famous for their mole and chocolate, so my friend ordered their mole fries for $4.95 that I guarantee will be unlike any french fry you have ever tasted. I did not care for the sweet smoky flavor, but would say that many people would (I just don’t care for sweet savory dishes in general).

The mesquite smoked Angus beef torta was only $9.50. Made with freshly baked rolls from the Eagle Rock Italian Bakery, beans, tres quesos (three cheeses), sauteed onions, tomatoes and jalapenos, this was the ultimate Mexican meat sandwich.

I had to order the sustainable white fish, seared with garlic infused Valle de Guadelupe olive oil, topped with avocado and charred spring onions, and served with cilantro lime rice and  pico de gallo for $14.95. This was the best fish I’ve ever had in a Mexican restaurant, including the fish I’ve eaten IN Mexico in Careyes (yes, I also lived and worked in Mexico for about a month, but that’s another don’t ask don’t tell story:) The plate was so big, I had to take half of it home, but it was just as delightful even reheated the next day as it was in the restaurant.

My friend somehow found room for dessert (she always does), so she got a nice ice cream sundae, drizzled with chocolate sauce, sprinkled with almonds and accompanied bu fried tortilla chips. It was the perfect ending to a meal which will remind me not to pre judge any place based on cuisine!

They have a marvelous happy hour menu Tuesday-Friday from 3:00-5:30 with tacos that are only $1.65 and a “gringo burrito”, made with carne asada, french fries, green onion, cheddar cheese, guacamole, and lettuce is only $5.95!!!

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