Saturday, July 28, 2012

I ♥ Mexicali - Asadero Gran Ocotlan

I had the chance to visit Mexicali twice work related in the past couple months. If it weren't for these short day business trips I probably would never have had the opportunity to see this capital city of Baja. Same probably could be said about Nashville, Cleveland and Philadelphia since I don't have close friends or relatives there, but experiencing and discovering the energies of cities new to me are always exciting and Mexicali definitely was no exception. But boy was it hot! This day in early June, it was 113°F and a cool 108 in the shade...



Anyway a two part series that I've been looking forward in sharing. It was a very busy day but the time to eat came sooner or later, and I didn't forget to take pictures.



I really have to thank my host for bringing me to Asadero Gran Ocotlan in that she's been raised vegetarian as long as she can remember. But according, the place made her favorite cheese quesadillas and happens to be a pretty famous spot for tacos for the rest of us meat eaters.



Interior is pretty spacious and air-conditioned although I heard the place was originally outdoors in its early inception. The order of a few tacos went fairly quickly in Spanish, and then this tray arrived not too long after at our table...(!)



Were close to a dozen various salsas and accoutrements. The radishes, limes, spicy pickled carrots and green guac sauce looked familiar but also were thick slices of refreshing cucumber, onions, cabbage and a few different types of delicious salsas.



The host's cheese quesadillas were first to arrive. Supposedly the larger handmade flour tortillas are well known here. Researching more later, it seemed these could be a general Mexicali specialty which I've yet to confirm but at least for Asadero Gran Ocotlan, it's definitely what to get.



My Asada and Pastor tacos came loosely rolled in a paper sleeve. I rolled them out and commenced to put together what I thought was my perfect taco, one condiment at a time. Not too difficult of a task mind you. The steak was nice with lots of crispy bits without being dry. Pastor also well seasoned and just greasy enough. As good as the fillings were I felt the flour tortilla was definitely the star though.



Still warm, a little powdery to the touch, and had that balance of being slightly stiff from being well heated yet still perfectly pliable. The subtle translucency hints at some of the fat content but my diet is forgotten quickly as it is undeniably tasty. A perfect sturdy vessel for your meat (or cheese) of choice that holds up even with more than a few selected condiments.



I'm not sure if the beans and grilled green onions were extra but they were really good in their own right. The beans were seasoned right and the green onions fantastic, char-roasty and sweet. Remember when Baja Fresh used to give those out?? *Sigh...



The Horchata btw was also great. Not watered down like few I've had, thick, spicy and flavorful.



I did try a taco later with the corn tortilla and have to say they don't quite stack up (pun intended) to the great flour ones. Was on the dry side and nothing too uncommon as to what you might find here. Still, the second round of tasty Pastor and choices of sauces made for a great chaser. The plan was to also try the Machaca, but they were unfortunately out the day. Everything totaled about $9 U.S. if I remember right.



Didn't know at the time that I'd be back to the city so soon. I'd definitely happily return to AGO but next up would be the city's perhaps actual iconic cuisine, Mexicali Chinese. Yup, many may be surprised to hear but Mexicali at one time had a population that was more Chinese than Mexican (due to a workforce influx for a massive irrigation project in the early 1900s). Currently Mexicali supposedly has more Chinese restaurants per capita than any other city in Mexico.



Asadero Gran Ocotlan, Calz Independencia, 21280 Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico

6 comments:

caninecologne said...

Cool post! OMG, over 100 F! Yikes!


Loved the food photos too! And only$9 for all that...

Dennis K. said...

Thanks CC! It was a nice lunch experience.

Lunchburb said...

Those burritos look perfect - just the meat and not loaded down with all that extraneous stuff!

Dennis K. said...

Hi LB! Hope you're doing good. Those were tacos actually, they come loosely rolled. Yup it was a small feast for cheap!

Jonie said...

OMG You came to my city! Ocotlan tacos are OKAY, but if you really what to try amazing one you should go to an out door taco cart named Tacos la Carreta, best salsas and beef ever, and hand made flour tortillas the next time you come. also the Chinese food here is amazing (don't eat sushi from here it's pretty ugly except for this place caller Su Sushi it's owned by a Jpanese couple and it's amazing)

Dennis K. said...

Hey Jonie, I really enjoyed Asadero Gran Ocotlan and thanks for all the additional recs! I actually had some Mexicali Chinese too that I've been meaning to post, hopefully soon. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and commenting!