La Casita or Babita?
I'm thinking of venturing out (from the westside) for proper for good mexican - and was wondering, which should I try first? La Casita in Bell or Babita in San Gabriel?
Several hounders seem to think the former is highly overrated...any thoughts?
Babita... I been to both recently... Babita wins because...
The setting is much nicer. La Casita is more a 'family restaurant'
The choice of beverages is better. Babita serves some really unique and wonderful Mexican Wines and wines from other regions as well
The choice of menu items. Often you read here and other places about these 'amazing dishes' at La Casita... well guess what... they aren't on the menu... Most of those dinners were pre-arranged by groups and the 'chefs' given notice of 'special guests'. For the rest of us, the menu is pretty pedestrian...
Overall, I found the food at La Casita good, but not WOW. The spicing was well done, some of the menu was indeed interesting. But the Purple Pozole lacks dimension. The Chiles en Nogada, overly sweet, the Lemonade con Chaya seeds... 'meh'...
I know La Casita has lots of fans... I do greatly appreciate the work they are putting into it... but for SPECIAL night out... there is really no choice in my mind...
I'm with Dommy on this one. I hit La Casita a month or so ago and was impressed but not floored. Nothing I had there will haunt my dreams, be an experience that I lust to recreate. It was good, very fresh, the home-made tortillas were very nice, the mole estifado (?)- from pumpkin seeds- was complex and addictive, and the cactus in the cactus salad was amazingly fresh, but I agree the pozole lacked a richness I would have liked it to have. Likewise my grilled meat platter was just that- grilled meat of nice quality essentially unseasoned.
At Babita, on the other hand, almost everything I've had has been a pleasure to the palate definitely produced by a person exposed to the skills that come with classical technique while still seeming soulful and authentic, a mature look at the traditional.
I think they are very different. La Casita is more of a neighborhood, really good Mexican restaurant with excellent versions of dishes that you often find on many Mexican restaurant menus: great moles, chile rellenos, pipian, etc. Babita is much more of a gourmet, creative, unusual restaurant, with dishes unlike most other places. Babita is also a lot more expensive than La Casita. I like them both very much, but if I am looking for a special meal, my choice would be Babita.
I agree with your last line, "Both good, but different." I've enjoyed Babita Mexicuisine for both lunch and dinner several times and always enjoyed the unusually creative and tasty faire. I've only had dinner at La Casita once, but unlike Dommy!, I loved the The Chiles en Nogada which I did not find to be OVERLY sweet but I thought they had just the right balance of sweet and tart and subtle spicing from an accomplished and caring chef. I plan on returning to both!
i think im the lone dissenter in not being all that wow-ed with babita.
of course i ate there after spending 10 days eating in mexico city.
i've tried about 6 of the entrees and wasnt really all that impressed with any of them, same for the apps. the one entree that looked good was the mixed seafood grill. of course i havent had that one yet.
for me, la casita feels right. i wouldnt really call it tommy's, more like the apple pan or cassells. it has a really nice atmosphere. i actually prefer it to babita, which to me feels slightly tarted up. i havent had as many dishes at la casita, but i remember being happier in general.
I have been to both La Casita and Babita for chiles en nogada (Babita for dinner, La Casita for breakfast). I liked the chiles en nogada better at La Casita. The chile was crisper, and the inside was less stewy (someone else had commented on this at one point I think).
I was expected to be bowled over by Babita and just wasn't. We had a ceviche appetizer that was only so so, and fried calamari that I thought was bland. The chips were not so great either.
La Casita was charming inside with nice tiles and this great vegetable patch 3-D mural on the wall, Babita's looks better inside than out, but not as nice in my mind.