La Vaquita has always been a standby for tacos and tortas, maybe even a recognizable platillo. Recently I decided to go further. I came with a friend and got a little excited and so did the man working the counter. He was noticably pleased by our order. It was one of the coolest ordering experiences I’ve had, like we bonded. He made me feel like one of Hemingway’s bull fighting aficionados (I know, too literary). We ordered three plates and brought them home. Before leaving the man called me back to the counter and gave me a La Vaquita pen inscribed with the phone number. So you can call ahead, he told me in Spanish.
Huilotes (hwee-lo-tess) azadas, or grilled quail. My inspiration for this menu adventure was once seeing a handwritten sign for quail either fried or in mole. Unfortunately they were out of those apparently larger quail and could only offer up these smaller, grilled birds. The meat was very flavorful, like a perfect blend of pork and chicken. I asked for a cup of mole on the side so we could get an idea of how it would taste. Since then I haven’t stopped thinking about huilotes en mole. Now I understand why the man at the counter said he was getting hungry just putting together the plate.
These costillas de res con nopales had a bewitching flavor. The ribs were tremendously flavorful in a way that only proper cooking can do. After much debate, we settled that they must only be seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic–with the possible addition of lime. When paired with the bright flavor of the nopal it really was awesome.
Now the real star of the show, lengua guisada. The beef tongue was stewed in a flavorful sauce that is led by smokey quajillo chiles, the same chile that makes al pastor items so great. It was so good it almost needs the rice. Otherwise your jaw just might fall off.
This meal was a spiritual experience. I may have already ordered my last taco.