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Oct 18, 2009 06:06 PM

CaCao Mexicatessen in Eagle Rock

It’s a small place, maybe 10 small tables inside, and 3 outside in a patio alongside Colorado. In addition to the prepared food, they also have a variety of packaged salsas, moles, coffees, tortillas and other food items you can take home and use for your own cooking.

The menu is creative, with interesting titles and combinations of ingredients. There are choices such as cochinita pibil tacos, a squash blossom and poblano chile burrito, and a taco with tocino and stringy cheese ala Oaxaca. And hats off to actually naming a dish Pinches Nachos.

After you order at the counter, they bring a basket of chips and a bowl of fresh-tasting salsa to your table. The chips are crispy and delicious, but the salsa, while fresh-tasting, is nothing extraordinary. I’ve seen different kinds of salsa being served with the chips, including a green salsa which I need to try.

The old standby carne asada burrito is hardly the old standby served at other places. It’s a ball of food about 5” long by 3.5” around. It’s served on a piping hot plate with cheese melted over the top. This is a lot of food, much more that it initially seems. This is an improved version of the common dish.

Abuelita’s enchiladas are served flat, not rolled. They’re made with cheese, but you can add chicken or shrimp. And you get a choice of red or mole sauce. The red sauce was fine, but like the salsa for the chips, it didn’t really do it for me. But the tortillas were soft like rolled enchiladas and I did like the flat preparation. It serves to spread-out the flavors. The beans that come with it are pinto beans, not refried but instead they're saucy without being too runny. Rice is brown and served in the molded shape of a pyramid on the corner of the plate.

For drinks, in addition to sodas, waters, etc., they have fresh horchata, tamarindo and a fruit punch.

In terms of food, this place strives to be a fancypants place, both in the creativity of the menu and the quality of preparation. However, it doesn’t quite click with the atmosphere, particularly at this price point. For example, the enchilada combo plate and a diet coke was over $14. That’s a little steep for having to order it at the counter, particularly for Mexican food. Frankly, I don’t know if it would work to have table service, as the place is so small it would slow things down to have a server taking orders and blocking the aisle. But I’m more inclined to pay $15 or more for a lunch with full service or $10 for counter service. $14 for an enchilada combo plate is pushing the envelope. And tacos are $3.

But despite the cost, there are a few more dishes I need to try. So I’ll be back. But not very often.

One more thing: Even though it’s technically counter service, the actual servers behind the counter and the runner who brings the food are very friendly and efficient.

CaCao Mexicatessen
1576 Colorado Boulevard (near Trader Joe’s)
Eagle Rock
(323) 478-2791

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  1. Thank you for this in-depth review, Mikey. I have noticed this place a couple of times while driving by and was wondering about it.

    1. any other reviews for this place?

      15 Replies
      1. re: ns1

        I've seen it mentioned several times if you do a search for Cacao. It's a favorite of ours - the tacos are really delicious, especially the vegetarian options, like Huitlacoche and fried avocado. Some good brunch dishes too. They've recently expanded into the former flower shop next door, so there are more tables.

        1. re: Savour

          Is it "good for groups", ie party of 8?

          1. re: ns1

            I think a party of 8 might be tough because it still is pretty small. I'd call ahead and see if they'll reserve a table for a party that size.

            We've also done a lot of takeout from them - they have a "family taco pack" (sadly, does not include the more adventurous taco options, but the carne asada is pretty darn good) that's a fun option for a large group.

            1. re: Savour

              We were eight one night, and managed to cram onto the front table without tripping any passing servers. We just walked in, said how many, and waited half an hour or so. That was our only time there so far, but I'd like to go back.

        2. re: ns1

          this is one of my favorite spots. i usually get the avacado burritos but sometimes just stop in for chips & salsa to go. amazing quality. they expanded and just openened up a wine bar that i need to try as well. i think i've dined inside one time but i've gotten food to go consistantly since they opened. have not had one bad bite of food there.

            1. re: PeterCC

              nice, but $20 for 4 tacos = O_O

              that's Petty Cash prices...

              1. re: ns1

                Not sure if you are saying are objecting in general to $4-5 tacos or saying you'd go to Petty Cash if you wanted to pay that much. IMO, Cacao's food is significantly better than Petty Cash's.

                Now if you're objecting in general to the idea of an expensive, gourmet taco, I get where you're coming from even if I don't agree. I have a similar philosophical objection to an expensive hamburger.

                1. re: bg90027

                  the latter. I understand quality comes at a cost, but 20 bucks for 4 tacos from a neighborhood restaurant

                  1. re: ns1

                    To be fair, they are pretty big tacos and the tacos listed in the review were made with expensive product: duck confit, suckling pig, etc. I personally can't imagine trying to eat 4 whole tacos there. I'd be uncomfortably full for hours.

                    If you want a more basic taco or burrito, the carne asada, carnitas, and pollo asada burritos are $8-8.50 each and the tacos are a little over $3 each.

                    1. re: bg90027

                      Yeah it's only the higher side of $/taco, but like bg90027 said, the standard options aren't unreasonably priced. And yes, I only got the more expensive ones. But look at the quality of ingredients they used. And the execution. I think it's worth it.

                      1. re: chrishei

                        the name has always thrown me; if spanish speakers wouldn't buy a car that wouldn't go (the chevy no-va) i'm at the least disinclined to eat ca-ca.

                        then there was the poo ping palace on foothill in tujunga.

                        1. re: barryc

                          While I strongly doubt that I would eat any part of a mole I know I love eating food with molé sauce...

          1. Had been driving by for years and after an urban stair hike, finally had an opportunity to try it. Pretty much agree with OP. No, it is not inexpensive but, I don't think it is expensive for the quality, and the portions are generous. I had camarones enchipotlados as a burrito. Delicious!!! All the flavors were distinct--cilantro, lime, chipotle, and the shrimp were firm and meaty. My friend had a calabacitas burrito--vegetarian with Mexican zucchini, corn, tomato, serrano chiles...While I didn't try it, it looked delicious which my friend confirmed. We got chips and salsa which I guess you normally pay for but since we were first time customers, it was on the house. The green salsa was one of the best I have ever had. The chips come hot and seasoned. My son got a beef torta that again, I didn't taste but I know he enjoyed. I am looking forward to going back for breakfast. And yes, while you do have to wait in line to order, the people working there are friendly and gracious. It is really nice to spend money in places where people appreciate your patronage.

            1. btw, anyone ever try the wednesday fish tacos?