El Molcajete in Cloverdale, Sonoma County
A few weeks ago I checked out El Molcajete in Cloverdale. It took over the spot formerly occupied by Taqueria Santa Rosa next to Ray’s.
For a first visit, I figured I’d try the namesake dish, molcajete, which turned out to be a big bowl of disappointment. The sauce, which to me is the soul of a good molcajete, was insipid. Tough strips of carne asada seemed more like boiled than grilled and had no seasoning. The chicken breast fingers were equally bland with no sign of grilling. Chorizo had lost whatever flavor it might have had. And the cactus was dried out and tasteless.
Mexican rice served on the side was too soft; beans were not bad. I would have preferred slices of avocado instead of the guacamole. My yield from this dinner order was a veggie burrito rolled up from the side plate.
The puzzling thing is that the salsas served with the complimentary chips were pretty good. These salsas --- salsa verde based on tomatillos and avocado, silky bean dip, and salsa casera --- came with my chips.
Then when I asked my server what else was on the salsa bar, he brought me pico de gallo, a fantastic chile de arbol salsa, and zingy slivered habanero chiles and onions marinated in lime juice.
It’s hard to understand how these salsas and the molcajete could come from the same kitchen.
1129 S Cloverdale Blvd
Cloverdale, CA 95425
I fear that molcajetes are a lost art form.
Los Agaves in Santa Barbara used to have great ones, but the last time I was there they seem to have given up on the stone dishes and were serving them in porcelain soup bowls of all things.
There's another Mexican place in the area with them on the menu... if I run across them again I may get brave and order one.
Trying the dish just one time from the late El Delfin was enough to scare me off from ordering it again at other places. And I really enjoyed the other dishes from ED.