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Chiles en Nogadas at La Casita knock your socks off

The chiles were the size of your hand. The filling was a delightful mixture of sweet and savory: chopped meat with just a hint of dried apples & pears, plantains, nuts and (believe it or not) cactus candy. Their traditional salsa de nuez (white pecan sauce) was drizzled over the top with generous sprinkles of pomegranate served with the freshest handmade corn tortillas.
They prepared a special holiday meal for us last night and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. I particularly enjoyed the special tamalitos of green chiles & Mexican cheese, along with the Moles blanco and poblano.

La Casita Mexicana
4030 E. Gage Ave., Bell
www.casitamex.com

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  1. It just dawned on me today that with the return of pomegranite season, it was time again for chiles in nogada. Thanks for the report on the ones at La Casita -- I'll have to check it out.

    I had some excellent chiles in nogada last winter at Babita, if you feel the need to compare and contrast :-)

    Babita Mexicuisine
    (626) 288-7265
    1823 S San Gabriel Blvd
    San Gabriel, CA 91776

    1. and i was completely knocked out by the ones i had at la huasteca in lynwood.

      1. If you'd like to see pictures of that holiday meal, go to the link below:

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_addic...

        Thanks,
        Abby

        1. There are no bad Chiles en Nogada!

          BTW... I keep hearing good things about La Casita... what else do they serve there?

          13 Replies
          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            IMO the best Mexican restaurant in LA. Certainly the most unheralded on this board.
            They have several moles, including mole blanco. They serve Puebla style food and everything is really fresh and homemade tasting. The tortillas are especially fantastic. I like the queso azteca appetizer, the chiles en nogada, the chicken with three moles, and I really love the dessert of guavas en rompompe.
            They also have cafe de la olla which is not so easy to find in LA.
            Oh, and it is very inexpensive ($8-11 for the entrees).

            1. re: oro3030

              Mole Blanco... I have never seen that anywhere... do you know whats in it?

              BTW, I am going down to So Cal in a couple of weeks... I may have to make a pit stop for dinner... do you know their hours on Wednessday nights?

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                La Casita closes at about 9pm. Its a small place, so they may stay later or close early depending on the crowd. The menu they made up for our party was arranged for in advance. I don't think that tamales are a normal part of the menu. So check out the website and call ahead if there is anything special you have a hankering for. They are very friendly there and eager to please. Part of their appeal is that they use very fresh ingredients in recipes handed down from their families. The bakery next door supplies masa fresh daily. I have eaten there when they have replaced the tortillas because they have cooled down a bit.
                On this board, Babita is touted as the best. And, in deed, their chef deserves high praise. However, his cuisine is alta mexicana, a more citified, gourmet cuisine. La Casita is first class regional cooking, carefully prepared to maintain freshness and flavor. These chefs seem to have a passion for what they do and it shows in their dishes.

                1. re: sassille

                  That bakery next door (Los Reyes) is also something special. Open very late almost every day, they always seem to have fresh, hot pan dulce. Despite being full and content from our meal at La Casita, we couldn't resist the siren smell of hot bread.

                  1. re: sassille

                    I just checked their attractive Web site, which apparently was designed by an artist rather than a computer scientist (looks good, can't select certain key text), and have to say that I've never before seen an MBA-type "mission statement" for a restaurant of this kind. Normally, it would give me pause, but your enthusiastic recommendation is also impressive, so I'll drive over there after Thanksgiving. Chiles en Nogada followed by guava for dessert sounds like a direct path to enlightenment. Uhmm.

                    I'm glad you like Babita. Keep in mind that their tortillas are also excellent, and, if I'm not mistaken, they serve cafe de la olla. Hounds should put through a proposition requiring all fine Mexican meals to end with a Kahlua Especial with cream floating on top. I'm confident Arnold would be a supporter.

                    1. re: Mel Gee

                      A key difference being that La Casita prices are perhaps 1/2 of those at Babita and the "gourmet" pretense is completely absent.

                      1. re: sbudick

                        A funny thing about Babita. We dined there about a week after our La Casita party because we wanted to compare the Chiles en Nogadas. The size and fillings were very similar with the main difference being the chile at Babita was cooked until soft and limp. The one from La Casita still had a crunch to it. There is a price difference:
                        Babita: One very delicious Chile en Nogada entrée, $24.94, Caesar salad $7
                        La Casita: Two very delicious Chiles en Nogada, $13.95 including soup of the day.
                        Since you will be going to La Casita, try the chilaquiles divorceadas. They are the best I’ve had.

                        1. re: sassille

                          I've had chilaquiles divorceadas (twice) but look forward to La Casita's variety. ;-)

                        2. re: sbudick

                          Cost is not the problem for me. I like Babita -- the friendly chef, the cute waitress, the homey atmosphere, the young Latino families and plain folks who always seem to be there, and the good food. My problem is that the food, while good, is rarely great. A bite here and there (including those tortillas) can be very satisfying. For food alone, however, I'd much rather be at the original La Serenata or one of the burrito stands in Boyle Heights sipping an agua fresca and chomping on serious chow. But I really appreciate Babita for carrying on the effort in this huge metro area that has so much trouble supporting more than a handful of top-quality sit-down Mexican restaurants.

                          I know that Babita specializes in Chile(s) en Nogada and look forward to a direct comparison with La Casita.

                          1. re: sbudick

                            Definitely a key distinction. Also I love the 3D plaster fruit on the wall.

                          2. re: Mel Gee

                            Ha, ha... that mission statement is very similar to what I will do when I get a restaurant going. Its funny alot of their concept are things I have written business plans for. Researching the Chef Bios... it seems both were Airline Execs in L.A. prior to getting into the food business.

                            This is interesting because Mexico's most successful restaurants seem to combine college educated entreprenuers & grass-roots chefs with little formal training.... which is probably what is replicated at La Casita... and which I hope will be my winning formula in Northern California.

                      2. re: oro3030

                        Wow... I found a recipe for Mole Blanco... sounds very promising:

                        http://cocinalamexicana.espaciolatino...

                        It features White Chocolate, Almonds, Sesame & Pumpkin Seeds, & Yellow Chiles among other ingredients.

                      3. re: Eat_Nopal

                        To see other La Casita dishes, you can check my other photolink below:

                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_addic...

                        Just scroll down towards the bottom of all the photos.

                      4. I thought their hours were 11-11 but I'd call ahead. The mole blanco is very subtle - I prefer the three moles but it's worth trying.