A reader who felt I was spending enough time praising the upscale Mexican places in town like Red Pepper, La Costa Mariscos and Nuestro Mexico thought I needed to visit a new hole in the wall on the east side, Mi Sinaloa.
After a couple visits, I understand the passion, and I’m always on the lookout for inexpensive places offering home cooking — just check out how often I’m spending money at Alfonso’s.
This place, though so tiny, is worth checking out if you have a similar taste in Mexican food. It’s located on East California Avenue just east of the intersection with Mt. Vernon Avenue in what looks like a relatively new strip mall shopping center.
There’s much to recommend, though I haven’t been back for breakfast and a friend who has says that’s the meal for authentic, inexpensive Mexican food.
Just be patient as when we visited there was only one open table. It’s as small as a living room with six booths, two tables, one working flat screen TV and a window to the kitchen. It looks like a family run operation, with the owner always present in the dining room.
The house specialty is the macho taco, $3.95 for carne asada and $5.25 for shrimp. I think it’s innovative but so much in the restaurant business is borrowed and plagiarized so I’m probably revealing my culinary inexperience when I say I’ve never had anything like it before.
The kitchen starts with a large Anaheim chile, pulls out the seeds, fills it with cheese, salsa and the protein of your choice, and then wraps it in a fresh made flour tortilla. Doesn’t matter which protein you choose, it’s a beaut. The choice of the Anaheim chile is perfect.
On to our dinner selections, where we chose from the specialties menu, I ordering the carne asada and shrimp ($17.95) while my companion got the chile Colorado ($10.95) made with pork shoulder meat in a good red sauce with a lingering, smoky heat. Everything was great, down to the soupy but tasty refried beans and the perfectly moist rice.
My plate featured three large shrimp wrapped in bacon and what had to be at least 12 ounces of thinly sliced carne asada with just wisps of tiny white onion strings here and there. Beef cooked with onions is always a great combination.
My companion thought on her first sample of the beef that it was well done, but in the thicker sections you got a good pink. I don’t like the overcooked carne. Her Colorado pork was finely chopped into small, thin chunks, the better to stuff into the tortillas we were served.
In the future we’ll be back to try the bistec ranchero ($11.95), beef sautéed with potatoes, onions, tomatoes and jalapenos — it looked and smelled fabulous on another table — the tamales (three flavors, including a vegetarian choice stuffed with corn), the flautas topped with tomatillo sauce, and the tamales culichis ($8.50) for breakfast, covered with that creamy green sauce we’ve developed a craving for lately. Yes, various versions of chilaquiles are available, too. A couple ceviches are on the appetizer list.
A few things to mention: beer only, no wine. They deliver through two services and a poster on the window outside touts the burgers, but I didn’t see those on the menu in the dining room, like I’d order that anyway with the other options I had.
As word gets out, this place is gonna be a tough seat to find, but maybe getting food to go or going at off hours might be a way to cope. It’s open every day and I suspect word of mouth will keep the small crew hopping.