Tuesday, April 23, 2013

First Taste: Xitomate

My mom is in town for a few days, so that means Mrs. P90 and I got to have a kid-free dinner date. When discussing where to go, we decided we should branch out from the old favorites and try something new. Luckily, Mrs. P90 had just heard good things about Xitomate from a friend. We looked at the menu and based on cocktails alone, we decided to give them a shot. Luckily, both the food and drinks were outstanding.

We arrived at Xitomate around 7:30 last night, had our choice of tables, and were seated immediately. I was surprised by how un-crowded they were. Maybe it’s because they are new or just because it was a Sunday night? Either way, they are having their grand opening this week, so hopefully that will change things.

I started off with the Tepache con Pique and the Mrs. had a Paloma. I frequently make a “fancy Paloma” with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (based on a recipe from the Post’s Jason Wilson). However, a real Paloma is made with grapefruit soda – and the one at Xitomate is made with Squirt. My understanding of Tepache is that it’s made by boiling Mexican brown sugar and cinnamon, steeping pineapple (including the rind), and then allowing it to ferment naturally over a few days. However Xitomate is making it, when paired with tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar it’s tart, just a little spicy, and near perfect. Both drinks were delicious and a nice change of pace from the standard margarita. But don’t worry, if you want a margarita, Xitomate has plenty of options and one of the best Tequila lists I’ve seen since Blue Agave in Baltimore. They also have some LA Cetto wines (yes, Mexican wines) that I’ve always really enjoyed (I’ve had them on trips to Mexico).

For entrees, we had the Tacos al Pastor and the Enchiladas Suizas. And because I can’t say no to fried plantains, we shared an order of Maduros. The Tacos al Pastor were filled with succulent spicy chunks of pork, tangy salsa, and just enough sweet pineapple to offset the heat. The enchiladas were great and the poblano cream sauce had that perfect blend of heat and earthy pungency that can only come from roasted pablano peppers. Oh, and about those Maduros – they were fried up perfectly with good caramelization on the outside and all sweet and gooey on the inside.

Oddly though, the highlight of my meal was the Coconut Agua Fresca I ordered mid-way through my meal. It was just that good. I should point out that I’m crazy for coconut and that agua frescas make me think of strolling through the Puerta Vallarta Malecon on my honeymoon. But wow – this thing is good. So good that I could be ok with skipping wine/beer/margaritas in place of it. Based on how fresh it tasted, I asked our server if it was made with fresh coconut, and she confirmed that it is (so much for making one at home).

The atmosphere is great, with Dia de los Muertos-inspired murals and hammered/punched tin light fixtures. Noise wasn’t too bad and we could talk quietly and easily hear each other and not the diners around us. I’ll reserve judgment on the couple that rolled in at 8:30 with a one year-old until I write my treatise on dining with kids...

I’m looking forward to a return visit. I already have my eye (tastebuds) on the Conchinita y Pibil for my entree, and I’m going to need that Coconut Agua Fresca again pronto. Hocofood@@@

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