I am no vegetarian. But I do tend to treat meat as a supporting character rather than the star of a meal. So last weekend, when I seriously considered finger licking clean the pork fat-slicked remnants of what had been an outstanding skillet of house made chorizo, I was surprised to say the least.
That chorizo was just one of a few of small plates I tried on a visit to Casa Azul’s recently opened second floor dining room. It’s a new space that, in addition to more seating, affords guests access to table service, an expanded food menu, and a full bar and cocktail program focused on Latin American spirits.
But more on that chorizo. It comprised a mince of garlicky, coriander-heavy sausage bound by a mildly spicy sauce of chile de arbol and fruit-forward dried guajillo and ancho chiles. The whole crimson affair was topped with wisps of fresh radish and a gently poached egg, and it was accompanied by fresh corn tortillas so soft and pillowy I had half a mind to rest my sweet little head on them. Instead, I turned them into savory pockets of meat and glistening yolk—the right move, to be sure.
There was also very good food beyond the chorizo. On the night we dined, the expanded featured a mixed vegetable “escabeche” of blistered carrots, pickled purple cauliflower, and candied pepitas over fresh cheese whipped with chipotle in adobe and agave ($8); a striped bass ceviche tostada accented with watermelon radish, cilantro, and red cabbage ($10); a bulging, crisp masa mushroom quesadilla that ate like an oversized empanada ($8);
and dueling grilled and fried calamari with salsa verde ($15). Soon, the upstairs dining room will also offer large, family-style entrees in addition to small plates and the tacos that have been Casa Azul’s bailiwick from the start.
To experience Casa Azul’s unique brand of bold Mexican cooking for yourself, swing by Genesee Street for happy hour or dinner, or consider attending the restaurant’s
grand opening party on Saturday, March 25. Ticket-holding attendees will sit down to a multicourse dinner prepared collaboratively by Casa Azul co-owners Victor Parra and Zina Lapi, and guest chef Francisco Hidalgo, with an optional cocktail pairing designed by bar team leads Tony Rials and Joe Whyte. Check out the menu and visit the event page on Facebook for details.