Friday, April 20, 2012

chowhoundapril2012.doc

THE CLAIREMONT CHOWHOUND

By Michael Baehr

Taste Your Way Through Mexico

Los Pueblos: Regional Cuisines of Mexico

As a California native, I’ve had my fair share of Mexican food, from greasy, lard-filled beans and combination plates to street tacos and handmade corn tortillas.  They all have some appeal when I’m in the mood for Mexican food, although I have to say that rarely do I leave a Mexican restaurant feeling that I’ve had a healthy, fresh and somewhat eye-opening meal all in one place.  

This was the case when I dined recently at Los Pueblos, a new restaurant in Kearny Mesa trying to break the Mexican fast-food stereotype.  (Los Pueblos is located just east of the 805 on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. in the strip mall in front of Walmart).  Los Pueblos offers a menu of dishes influenced by the diverse regions of Mexico.  Owner Jeremy was born and raised in Mexico City and has some very inspirational ideas about using fresh ingredients, sustainable products, and educating children about the regional cuisines of Mexico while learning to eat healthy, flavorful food.

During a recent lunch visit, a very friendly host explained the unusual regional specialties offered on the menu.  Among them were tortas, gourmet sandwiches from Mexico City ($5-$8);  poblano and verde mole sauces inspired by the city of Puebla; a Yucatan salad ($9); and Huaraches or “sandals”.  These are thick and chewy sandal-shaped corn masa patties topped with beans, meat, cheese, guacamole and salsa, also originating in Mexico City ($7-$8.50).  

Being the chicken-loving chowhound that I am, I selected the grilled chicken breast with rice, beans and tortillas ($8.75).  A true test of any eatery is the flavor, texture and ‘moist-factor’ of the chicken, and this dish did not disappoint.  The chicken is marinated in achiote, which is made from the earthy-flavored red annatto seed, along with bitter orange and other spices.  The chicken was chargrilled, flavorful and juicy, served in strips.  At first, I was surprised to see green rice, but discovered it was packed with fresh cilantro and tomatillo flavor and mixed with peas.  I was particularly interested in the refried beans since I knew they contained no lard and they were as creamy and delicious as I had hoped.  I also sampled the pork adobado, smothered in sun-dried red chile, spices and Mexican chocolate. This meat is the perfect ingredient for a taco ($3.50), which I enjoyed on a subsequent visit.

The food at Los Pueblos is fresh and satisfying, and it warms this Chowhound’s soul to support an up-and-coming business that aspires to do good in the community and to teach children about healthy eating.  And, in a rare moment of enlightenment, I ignored my smart phone to view the large TV in the dining room that displays images of the various regions of Mexico where many of the dishes originate.  This Chowhound scampered out of Los Pueblos with a full stomach while feeling inspired and educated—what a deal!

Los Pueblos: Regional Cuisines of Mexico

7081 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite 103

San Diego, CA 92111

(858) 384-7878

www.lospueblosmexicanrestaurant.com

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