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...
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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