la contenta

Our original plan was to finally try the oden dinner set at Davelle before heading to the Marc Strauss Gallery opening night, but unfortunately, we arrived to find a note that said the restaurant was having Davelle Boot Camp and would reopen soon. Fortunately, my map showed that La Contenta, other “want-to-try” was just around the corner and Mexican seemed the thing to do.

All of the seats were full, but we are fans of eating at the bar and were able to grab a couple of stools. It wasn’t difficult for either of us to choose our beverages. Derek is always going to go for a margarita, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off the yellow cocktails in the coupes with rust-colored salt rimming the side that seemed to be sitting on almost every table. This canary concoction turned out to be The Mayan, a tequila-based drink with lime, habanero bitters, and a surprising addition of corn purée that is responsible for the interesting color and texture. My problem with this cocktail is that it goes down way too fast. I chose a glass of red wine next to remedy this issue and was amazed to find that it was 1) from Mexico, and 2) delightful. It had some fruit on the front and a deep, earthiness on the finish. Who knew?

Since this was our first time, and it happened to be happy hour, we decided to stick with the botanas menu. The Guacamole arrives as a sculptural piece in a molcajete with warm tortilla chips pointing upwards for easy grabbing, and it tastes just like what we make at home – simple and fresh with a hint of spice. The salsa that comes out before is a pleasant surprise, more like the adobo sauce from a can of chipotles than the pureed tomato sauce you find at most cantinas. Two sets of tacos – Pescado & Carne Asada – rounded out the meal. Hot and crispy tempura catfish nestled among cole slaw and pico de gallo in corn tortilla melted in our mouths, and the marinated hanger steak with guacamole and tomatillo was tender with a bit of sear.

Our experience was just a hint at the capabilities of La Contenta, and I am looking forward to experiencing the full dinner menu soon.

lalito

Everything is delicious at Lalito, but the olive oil cake is amazing! We discovered this gem in Chinatown a few months ago for dinner and decided to try it for brunch. Starting off with a delicious orange wine, we then moved on to the peach ricotta olive oil cake. It was clear that a lot of thought was put into every ingredient and texture – the crunch and softness of the cake, the drizzle of olive oil, the ricotta, the peach, and the thyme garnish.

The texture study continued with the coconut grits and pork, where the pork was both crispy and tender, and the coconut didn’t overwhelm. The celery and bacon salad was perfectly dressed with crispy celery and slightly softer bacon. And don’t miss out on the magical bathroom. I won’t spoil the surprise but highly recommend. A beautiful meal!