Asadero Los Corrales - La Quinta/Indio, CA - Superb Sinaloan/Exquisite Tamales
Asadero Los Corrales
79710 California 111
La Quinta, CA 92253
This place is a real gem. I returned here after almost one year and they are still on the top of their game, that is if you are interested in the Mexican sub cuisine of the Pacific-bordered Sinaloan state. Most people associate Sinaloan food with mariscos or seafood due to its extensive coastline -which is also offered here- but since I haven't tried this part of the menu, I'll explain the side I do order from.
To me and based on what I've had, this place is a representation of what homestyle non-seafood based or "comida corrida" food in Sinaloa. A little background on Sinaloa, historically it was one of the area that genocide occurred on a widespread scale largely due to the weight of resistance the invading Spaniards encountered during the Conquista. It's because of this that you'll find a much simpler regional Mexican style of cuisine when you compare Sinaloa to states like Tabasco or Oaxaca where the large and consistent indigenous presence is seen all over the food (complex sauces, rare ingredients etc.).
In Sinaloa, the presence of the simple/straight-forward and (euro-introduced) meat-centric Spanish techniques prevail with the ever present masa taking the base. This is not vegetarian food for historical reasons of practicality. It can be considered a food of the rancho in Northern Mexico where livestock raising became the cash 'crop' and was less labor intensive than agriculture for entrepreneurial Spaniards and their waves of Mexican ancestors feeding the bellies of miners of the famous silver mines near by.
That being said this place has a finesse with their way of preparing delicious food that doesn't go unnoticed. I really like the minor flourishes like the condiment tray promptly brought to the table containing a classic smokey salsa de molcajete of roasted tomatoes and just the right amount of heat, a thin zippy avocado based sauce, pico de gallo, and essential garnish of sliced cucumber, radish and lime alongside the chips.
This is one of the few places that offers the Sinaloan couisin of Horchata, called Cebada. Its a refreshing slightly malty and sweet barley based aguafresca. All beers can come prepared in the michelada manner and even straight Mexican beers are accompanied by an ice chilled mug.
The fresh made sopes are wonderful topped with pickled red onion, a sprinkling of delightfully strong Mexican aged cheese, and crisp lettuce and are interestingly served with hot broth that is poured over the garnished corn cake. The tacos can be made with homemade tortillas, so when they ask make sure to get them. The lengua is a perfectly cooked al dente and not a smothered mess.
The tamales are what really stole the show here for me. The sweet corn are fantastic but its the pork that are as delicately made as if they were coming from your long lost Mexican grandma. They are perfumed by what I know is hand ground cumin giving a distinct almost Indian scent when they are unraveled from their corn husks. These are Sinaloan tamales, unique in that they mix the red chile sauce into the corn masa dough as well as coating the wispy shredded pork. I asked and they will be participating in the upcoming Indio Tamale Fest. I am almost certain they will win.
I really wish this place was closer to me in San Diego. Give it a try.
kr: First I have to tell you how much I miss your posts on the San Francisco Board - and those of Eat Nopal as well...
I can't believe that we were literally a block away from Asadero Los Corrales yesterday afternoon having lunch at Pho Vu.
Totally appreciate the lesson in the foods of Sinaloa and wish we had time to try it. The sopes you've described sound so good, especially on this cold, rainy day. I've never seen this style on a menu. And the tamales... sigh. Just not enough time to get over there before we leave tomorrow, but will plan on a meal there next time we're in the desert.
There is so much dismal food in this area, it's good to know there is at least one place worth a visit!
I echo your thought: I wish this place was closer to the SF Bay Area!
In a restaurant in King City, CA I once ordered Huevos Sinaloenses (sp?) expecting them to be like Huevos Rancheros, but they were actually scrambled eggs with some of the hottest chili spicing I have ever had. I managed to finish them, with sweat pouring down from my head and shoulders. Pretty tasty, though, and the hotness didn't really come back to haunt me.
I live in Japan and find your screen name Kare Raisu amusing.
So we rearranged our plans for lunch/dinner today and paid a visit to Asadero los Corrales! After reading your description of the sope and tamale, I just had to have them.
I have never had a salsa de molcajete with this lovely smokey flavor - as though the tomatoes had been smoked over mesquite - addictive flavor. We made short work of the basket of chips with this salsa. Finishing it with the slices of radish and cucumber. Got a pint of this salsa and some chips to go for the drive home tomorrow.
We shared 1 each of the corn and pork tamales. Again, your description was spot on. Definitely the fragrance of fresh toasted cumin. Would be great to have a grandmother who makes tamales like these. (Got 6 to freeze and take home in the cooler tomorrow).
Shared a sope as well, so different from the other sopes I've eaten. Pouring the hot broth over the sope & garnishes makes for a very different dish.
Then on to tacos: lengua and cochinita - we enjoyed both. Much care is taken in preparing these humble tacos; the red onion garnish on the lengua was precisely cut into perfect 1/4" dice done carefully enough to be at home in any fancy kitchen...
kr, you are so right: This place is a real gem!
This is my first winter in the Valley, and thus far we have been generally disappointed in the cuisine. Yes, Date Shakes were a revelation, as has been the quality of the produce, and expansive breakfasts beyond bagels and a shmear, but-- all in all --the PS area seems pretty much a culinary wasteland. I get the demographic, economic and geographic reasons, but still!!!!
In particular, had hoped to find real authentic Mexican, something not abundant back at our home in Connecticut. But thus far was disappointed.... very touristy.
CH to the rescue. Kare, your informative and passionate post pointed us to Asadero Los Corrales and we were blown away by the freshness of ingredients, the made to order prep, the warm service, and the down to earth (sand) prices and simplicity. It's also close by to us in La Quinta. In fact we've gone twice in the past three days. (they have another location in Coachella btw)
The starter tray you mentioned arrived only seconds after seating, and what a welcome! The homemade salsa, featuring roasted tomatoes and ground in a molcajete, was more paste than sauce, and delivered a nice tingling heat. The smooth avacado spread was creamy and tasty.( The waitress claimed it was just avacado smoothed in a blender, no spices, oils, or creams added.) I hunch there was at least a squirt of lime if only to prevent enzyme browing. It added a subtle zing. The pico was just picked fresh, and the unadorned cucumber and radish made for a refreshing cleanser between rounds.
I picked the shrimp ceviche, chopped shrimp and spices, on a corn tortilla, a pork taco, a fish taco, and Birria, goatmeat in a spicy red broth over a homeade corn tortilla. All were prepped to perfection.
We no longer were eating in a strip mall off a six lane Calfornia highway. The chopped, citrus infused shrimp and pungent spices transported us to a small cafe perched above the Pacific coast. And with each slurp of the deep, spicey sopa, we suddenly were guests in a rancher's casa on an inland Sinaloan farm.
Both times, I chose beer over the Horchatta, just couldn't resist those icey, frozen mugs. Next visit for it.
Thanks, again, Kare. This is CH at its best.
re: Melanie Wong
We went for the first time. Overwhelming choices. Grandma Lupes, the defending titlist, had lines that stretched two hours long, so practicality prevailed over passion and we tried others.,,, which were all fresh but the ratio of masa to ingredients didn't favor the fillings. Unfortunately ALC's booth at the fest was off the main midways and when we arrived they were not ready to serve. Being off the beaten path obviously hurt their chances of winning. Local media has not reported the winner, but I suspect it won't be ALC. There were many other Sinaloense booths.
A line of food trucks offered non Mexican dishes, and we couldn't pass garlic and feta french fries without trying them out. They were sublime.
Will be giving the tread a workout after that calorie-athon.