Fiesta oaxaqueña opens restaurant (Escondido)
Good news, fellow fans of Fiesta Oaxaqueña! They've opened a site outside of the swap meet! It's on Mission Ave., between on Escondido Blvd. and Broadway, on the south side of the street. It's in the small shopping center with Casa Reveles and Escondido's Lao market.
I ate at the swap meet today and spoke quite a bit with the counterwoman about the new operation. It's called El Tejate, named for a beverage that they promise to serve soon. The menu will be the same as in the swap meet, but like at the meet, some items may not be available at all times. They plan to also serve nieves (ice cream) like limon, tuna, and leche quemada. They opened yesterday, and she said they should be serving the full menu by next weekend.
Sounds like they're planning big, so let's get out there and support them!
Our lunch at FO in the meet today was the best ever. The empanada de quesillo was ethereal; I've never had anything like it. The dough melted in my mouth. The molotes were great, as were the usual tlayudas, tamal, gordita, and tacos.
We returned for about the sixth time total yesteday, and all I can truly conclude about El Tejate is that it's wildly inconsistent. The preparations vary depending upon who is in the kitchen, and none of the chefs (all men) are as skilled as the women cooking down the street at the swap meet.
On my first visit just after they opened, I was excited to revisit the empanada I had called "ethereal" when tasting it at the swap meet. The version at El Tejate wasn't nearly as good (using a more standard masa with a stiffer result), but it was good, and it was good on later visits. Last night's empanada, however, was truly inedible. It was simply an oversized (homemade) tortilla filled w/boiled-to-death chicken chunks and a gloppy pre-packaged mole. It was not sealed and fried or baked, and the chicken tasted to me like the inside of a Mcnugget. The filling and tortilla were never placed together until they were plated, meaning the homemade tortilla turned to steamy mush before it was served. The memela I ordered was fine, but I had to order a side of rice and beans to fill me up in place of the empanada I was craving.
Last time I ordered the enfrijoladas, the beans had not been cooked w/epazote or hoja de aguacate, resulting in a complete lack of pizazz. Last night, the extra seasoning was back, including so much dried chile que me enchilé when eating my little side (not complaining about that, though).
On previous visits, the rice varied from standard to sligthly above, and then last night's rice was excellent. It had been cooked in chicken broth (no doubt the cause of my flavorless empanada filling) and fresh epazote, and texture and amount of oil were perfect.
The meat my husband ordered last night was coated with a thick red marinade; not so on other nights. It's always perfectly good, but still strangely inconsistent.
They are likely to be out of any number of things on any day; the most disappointing is when they are out of pork tamales or masa to make memelas and empanadas. This is of course true of Fiesta Oaxaqueña as well, but it's forgivable there because of the small space they are working in.
I finally tried the tejate last night, and it was very good. I recommend it as a unique alternative to horchata (though of course El Tejate's horchata is well above standard).
What is my point exactly? Well, I would not recommend at this point that anyone make a special trip to Escondido to try El Tejate. Likewise, I would not recommend you base your opinion of the restaurant on a single visit, particularly if something was not to your liking. As for my husband and I, we've decided it's worth the extra hassle to go to the swap meet when we want Oaxacan food, with the possible exception of off-hours cravings.
I forgot to ask, but we went by today (a friday for those reading this later on) before 11:00am, maybe 10:45am and they had the "open" light on ... so we went in and had early lunch:
Empanada with yellow mole (surprisingly subtle and light considering it's a large fried object with white cheese crumbled all over the outside),
two mole combination plates (black w chicken, red w pork) -- these come with rice and a warmer full of tortillas,
aaand chapulines just because you just don't see insects on the menu that often in San Diego.
It was all very good. We were the only ones there and the very nice owner/chef made us coffee, which paired beautifully with both the mole combinations. The chapulines would have been better paired with beer, and it's our fault for not drinking beer with them, but they were tasty just the same.
The owner mentioned they plan to have actual breakfasts served at some point, and he had a lot of pastries available (my dad took some of those home), but I'm glad we could get what we got as early as it was.
Thanks for letting us know about this place!
I went to El Tejate today for a bite on the way up to Riverside and spoke with Lucy who strangely remembered me from 2 years ago - when we were doing are initial FO reportage.
I just ordered the Empanada but she even added the molotes to the plate. Totopos were fried right after my order. The salsa molcajetada and verde crudo were pure shimmering examples of straightfoward salsas....wonderful.
What is out of control is..............the beans! Her Oaxacan sieved black bean puree are flavored with roasted avocado leaf that leaves you with a haunting, addictive anise flavor paired with the earthy richness of your average turtle bean. I could sit and eat a bowl of this, easy.
Her Molotes are way better than what I have had at San Francisco and LA area Oax restaurantes. They taste much more casera rather than contrived.
The molotes and empanada with the texturally magnificent quesillo were blessed with this puree and above average moist queso Fresco.
They are going to need the support of the food conscience community like ourselves to survive because their countrymen base of customers is dwindling with the economy. This is just not another Mexican restaurant - like their sign says its, "Gastronomia Oaxaquena."
Supported El Tejate yesterday for late lunch (around 3pm)...first time going and was NOT disappointed. Very, very delicious and yes KR - I agree...the beans are crazy good. What a unique flavor and texture. Creamy black beans with that slight bite of licorice....the delight is as you say, "earthy richness".
We were a group of 4 and we all shared plates of steamed tamales, chile rellenos w/ground beef & raisins swathed in fresh and flavorful tomato sauce, chicken enchiladas w/mole...but, what knocked my socks off were the shrimp tacos that were not on the menu. The server (sorry, didn't get his name - should've because his service was exemplary) recommended the shrimp tacos and he was right on with this tip. Sauteed shrimp, salsa, the beans, the crazy-good, stout corn tortillas...every bite was dripping with flavor...I inhaled mine in record time. I ordered an ice-cold horchata that was made that morning and it was cinnamony refreshing and not too sweet. Count me out if horchata is too sweet. Gosh, I hope they stay.
Si, si, si - esta es muy Gastronomia Oaxaquena! ;)