The Joy of Eating La Cocina Mexican Food & Seafood in San Clemente!
By Lynnea Bylund
Catalyst QuickBooks Bookkeeping of OC
I know Mexican food is the favorite cuisine of many local diners.
As it is, though, your average Mexican joint could dispense with the menu altogether and simply offer one big dish: a bowl of green-chile soup in which floats some grease (of course), a few tortillas, a tamale, a taco shell, some cheap shredded cheese, refried beans, rice and your choice of dry chicken, drier beef or greasy pork. Then the kitchen wouldn't have to waste time preparing those combination platters that initially fool diners into thinking they might get something that tastes different from everything else.
At La Cocina de Ricardo Mexican Food & Seafood in San Clemente, no fewer than 48 combinaciones are offered, along with a warning that 50 cents will be charged for any substitutions. But with every conceivable possibility covered--Taco, Tostada, Relleno, Burrito, Enchilada, Psecado, Seafood, Pozole, Menuedo, Flauta, Chimichanga, Torta, Suizas,--I can't imagine what anyone would need to substitute, except maybe a Tums.
And its as good as it gets for fresh and fast Mexican seafood, of which they have many (20) different entrees. La Cocina de Ricardo??s proprieter, Hamid, introduced us to a shrimp preparation we hadn??t tried before. It??s called ??campechana? and it??s similar to a jumbo shrimp cocktail with sliced octopus thrown in. Wow! Es muy bueno!
We decided to stick with the printed suggestions and tried the tostada/burrito/smothered enchilada/chile relleno combo. But the smothering didn't stop with the enchilada.
The food is pretty darn good, with a clean, quality taste. Even the combination of enchilada, tostada and burrito, smothered, of course, with green chile, was remarkably oil-free. The smooth green chile had some body to it, as well as big pieces of pork, although the accompanying refried beans were a bit on the boring side and the rice was too dry. But the guacamole on the tostada couldn't have been better. It had been hand-mashed, not food-processed, so it retained some chunks of fresh avocado, and it was packed with garlic along with a hint of chile heat and a citrus tang.
The chile relleno plate was another well-executed meal. Under their crunchy wrappers, the chiles had kept some snap rather than becoming soggy or stringy; they were not only stuffed but covered with a mixture of white and yellow cheeses. More of that good green chile had been ladled over the two rellenos, and more of that good guac came on the side. This was a dish that let you enjoy every component as well as the whole.
We also enjoyed the huevos con chorizo. Spiced meat--although not spicy enough for us--outweighed the eggs in this generous scramble, and again the green chile had been treated as a condiment instead of the main event.
If all Mexican food and seafood were as good as this, I'd eat it every day! Pass the Tums.
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