Los Angeles is one of the best cities to satisfy your craving for Mexican food. The first thing that comes to my mind when I have a craving is: tacos, tacos and tacos.
However, that's not exactly what I thought of when I visited Frida Mexican Cuisine, formerly known as Casa Azul Cantina. When my friend and I looked through the menu, there were so many options that went beyond just tacos and burritos. Dishes range from ceviches and sopas to ensaladas and moles.
Upon seating, there is a clean and sophisticated ambiance. They have folded napkins on the table waiting for you and colorful murals on the wall. We arrived at the restaurant at 2 p.m., and business-attire people seem to come here for lunch break. But students are welcomed, especially when UCLA is walking distance from the restaurant!
We started munching on chips and salsa, then our waiter brought an appetizer: Guacamole en Molcajete. The molcajete (stone pot) had diced avocados in it, and our waiter asked us if we wanted everything. "Everything" means onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, cilantro and limejuice. We said "yes," and he proceeded to mix everything in front of us. The guacamole was fresh and chunky, the way I like it. And there was plenty to last the whole meal.
The next dish we tried was Ceviche Tasting. It features three different ceviches to try with crispy tortillas and crackers. Ceviche de Cangrejo is made with crabmeat, and was one of our favorites. It is acidic, sweet and spicy - my favorite combination. Ceviche Frida has fish pieces with carrots and jicama. The fish seemed a little bland for our tongues, and the sauce was nothing special; it wasn't our favorite. However, the Ceviche de Camaron Rasurado was my favorite! It's made with shrimp in olive oil and limejuice with onions, avocados and jalapenos. The shrimp has a bite to it, and the sauce is lime-y and complements the other ingredients.
Next, we both ordered a dish. My friend ordered the Burrito Frida with beef, and I ordered the Mole Tasting. Burrito Frida is pretty much like any other burrito you expect. You have a choice of beef, chicken, carnitas or pastor. Rolled up in flour tortilla, it is filled with meat, Mexican rice, refried beans, queso fresco, lettuce and sour cream. The beef itself was tender and the perfect texture.
I never tasted mole before, so my expectations weren’t that high. In the Mole Tasting includes chicken with green, poblano, black and pipian mole sauces. Taking a bite out of each chicken, I fell in love with the poblano sauce. It’s sweet and slightly tangy. Green mole sauce is made with different nuts and is perfect for anyone who likes then. I’m not a big nut fan, but it was tasty. The black mole came out heavy, while the pipian had more spices to it. The moles are served with Mexican rice, refried beans, a cheese gordita and corn tortillas.
The tortilla was the star of the show for me. Its texture was chewy with a slight bite. It was warm, but not gritty like other corn tortillas. Without a doubt, I will come back just for the delicious tortillas.
At the end of our meal, the waiter served us café de olla, coffee with brown sugar and cinnamon. Taking a sip, the warm sweetness took over my taste buds. It was a nice palate cleanser for me after a hearty meal.
Next, we were immediately served the Dessert Platter featuring four different sweets. Crepas con Cajeta is crepes with milky, sweet, caramel-like sauce. The sauce was thick, and they poured all over the crepes that I wouldn’t have been able to see them if the waiter didn’t point them out. I love flan, but Flan Napolitano was very rich and a bit plain. Pastel de Tres Leches is a moist and sweet spongy cake with light frosting. The cake was delicious and oozing with sweet milk. On the bottom of the cake, it’s thick and sticky due to condensed milk, which is a bonus!
The last dessert, which I had been looking forward, was the churros. They have a sweet filling inside, and you dip them in the caramel sauce. Surprisingly, it was not overly sweet and had a great texture.
The whole dining experience left us very full, and we had a couple of bags to go. We were satisfied with our meals and left thanking the waiter and manager with a smile.
The prices are a bit expensive, but come during lunch and happy hours at the bar for a discounted price. The restaurant also has “college night" every Thursday and provide specials during sports nights, as well.
Overall, the food is delicious, and the service is excellence. The staff always greets you with a smile. My advice: come with extra money and a big appetite because the food will really fill you up.
Frida Mexican Cuisine is located on 10853 Lindbrook Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90024. For more information, check out the website at www.casaazulcantina.com.