single serving: chile relleno at taqueria la cumbre
Hey! Look where I am--trolling through The Mission again! This time I have a plan though. I'm attending a few Litquake events and in between them, I figure it might be a good chance to hit up an old school taqueria in the area to grab a quick bite. Of course, best laid plans and all. The neighborhood where the events are taking place is crawling with people and the first four taquerias I walk by are packed. I mean lines out the door packed. Should have figured this beforehand. Undaunted I walk on and finally come across a Taqueria La Cumbre which only has a handful of folks in line. Since it is getting late and my time is short, I stroll in to give 'em a try.
It is kind of a big menu for a taqueria between burritos, tacos, salads, nachos, quesadillas, dinner plates and more. After probably too much time I finally decide to be a little adventurous and order up the chile relleno dinner plate.
That's a large chile pepper stuffed with cheese, battered and deep fried then served with rice, beans, a side salad and some white corn tortillas. It definitely made for a full plate and I was initially intrigued since they tout themselves a bit as Mexican fresh using fresh ingredients--that's fresh twice right there. After I ordered I went up to the register and paid, but while there, I was a bit dismayed to see my chile relleno was not going to be exactly fresh. I saw her take a metal container out of the mini fridge and pull out a an already cooked chili which she then proceeded to put on a plate and stick in the microwave.
I tried not to form an opinion and thought I will wait and see. When I got my plate I will say they do a nice presentation and fill the plate full. The salad was colorful and fresh looking. The guac was green and the beans, rice and tortillas were hot and steaming. But it is not all just about looks, it has to taste good. As for the the chile, well part of the joy of one is the deep fried part where the outside has that nice crust, but this did not have that. In fact, the entire thing was a flat soft mush. And while there was cheese inside, it was watery and tasteless. In fact, the whole pepper had no spice or kick to it at all. It is probably one of the most blandest things I've ever had. One big liquid pool of blah.
But not a total loss as they did have an all you can get salsa bar and I had these two lovely and spicy additions to add some kind of flavor to pretty much everything that was on the plate. Having the soft tortillas helped as I could put some rice, beans and a little bit of salad in one with one of those sauces and still feel like I got something worth eating. Otherwise, what I got wasn't much to rave about in any way. A shame really they couldn't fry up a fresh pepper since they are supposed to be Mexican fresh after all.
I guess in essence I probably should have gotten the hint when I first walked and this was the only taqueria I came across that wasn't busy when all the others were. It is like the signs are all there but when you are hungry and in a hurry you ignore them to fill the pangs in your stomach. Yet afterward you find you aren't satisfied and you've spent close to $15 (with drink and tax) on something that just wasn't good. Let this be a lesson to the rest of you out there to stop and think with head instead of your stomach before trying a spot. Oh and for La Cumbre, if you are gonna promote yourself as fresh, then maybe cook to order instead of microwaving, I can do that laziness at home.