Housemade flour tortillas at Alicia's in Cambrian Park, San Jose
Usually I don't care for flour tortillas -- bland, pasty things -- but Rick Bayless' description of the glories of a simple quesadilla with fresh flour tortillas and Chihuahuan cheese in Saveur a few months ago got my mouth watering. So when I saw the sign at Alicia's restaurant (in the Cambrian Plaza shopping center) indicating that they made their flour tortillas in-house, I was intrigued. Last week, I finally stopped by for dinner with a friend and our kids.
It's a good-sized restaurant with two rooms and a full bar - in summer, they have outdoor tables in the courtyard, complete with Dos Equis sunbrellas. Yes, it screams "gringo paradise."
But the house salsa that came with the chips was very flavorful, and the tortillas -- which somehow came ahead of the dish they were accompanying -- were outstanding. There were scorch marks from the griddle, and they had wonderful chew -- it was a marvel just to tear off a piece from the whole. Oddly, the corn tortillas are the supermarket variety.
I think it'll take some poking around to find the other specialties here. We had camarones al mojo de ajo, which came buried in a heap of sliced onions and bell peppers. It was just ok, but my son likes shrimp so he devoured it. With Rick Bayless in mind, I ordered a quesadilla. It was very good, but I definitely appreciated the flour tortillas more on their own. I also had albondigas. The beef meatballs were fine-grained and tender (although I didn't see any rice inside), but the soup was greasy.
Basically, the food was like an average Mexican American place, nothing like the artisanal fare just down the street at Tu Mero Mole (where you can get handmade corn tortillas!). But I'll be back, eventually, for those flour tortillas. With something.