Walter Mencken 11 a.m., Nov. 27
Bonita: Tuna tostada trial!
Ed goes for a simple happy hour, and finds happiness itself
Oh man. Always dangerous to say "best."
But his ahi tuna tostada has to be the best in 'Diego. No. Best in the universe. OK. Let's just limit that to best in our particular galaxy.
Sitting here in the Tapas room of Javier Plascencia's eatery in Bonita, Romesco (4346 Bonita Road, Bonita, 619-475-8627).
His family is famous for their restaurants in Tijuana, also Guadalupe Valley. They're the ones who resurrected Caesar's, home of the great salad, on Revolución.
And actually when you walk in here, it has the same vibe. Big black and white floor tiles, lots of wood, paintings of vineyards, black Spanish-style chandeliers overhead, long banquettes down each wall, tables with oversized white tablecloths, waiters in black with white aprons. You know you're in a serious place.
'Course I'm here for happy hour. How else? This atmosphere doesn't come cheap.
So for HH you go to this tapas bar through doors at the back.
But it's nice, this little ghetto for cheapos like me. Square bar jutting from the kitchen.
Héctor the waiter/bartender comes up with big solid menu books. The happy hour specials shine out on the wall. Basically items from the tapas menu.
"What's most Baja-Med?" I ask Héctor.
"Probably the lengua, tongue," he says. "Or the ahi."
I see the lengua is $8.95 but $6.50 in happy hour. Also they have sliders (deal! three for $3.50). And, Lord, a "Romesco's Tostada Festival" goin' on.
First up in the Festival: "Roadside ahi tuna tostada," $5 85. What it's got is pretty simple: avocado, greens, mild habanero salsa, olive oil. And the chunks of tuna. That's it.
Well, Héctor says the cream is sour cream, and they have sesame seeds in there too.
Whatever, with the first crunchy, messy bite, I'm gone.
Drizzles of cream ooze down spinach leaves that are sitting on top of the tuna and a whole red mess of peppers and who knows what-all else, float on the golden tostada. But the taste, the taste...garlicky, creamy...honestly, you had to be here.
So I go on to get the sliders (with bits of short ribs and mayo and red onion), and a dipping bowl of meat juice. They're pretty delicious.
Then I can't resist trying the lengua, just because of the Baja-Med connection. It's a big red mess of "pipian," pumpkin seed sauce, with the pieces of tongue just submerged, all in a beautiful iron cazuelita. A molcajete salsa, chopped onions and cilantro sit in pots ready for adding to your spoonful. The pipian sauce is kinda robust, earthy.
It's one of the first times I have really enjoyed tongue.
Oh. I also got a glass of wine. Merlot. Santo Tomás. Guadalupe Valley. About the only Mexican wine they have here by the glass. Costs $5 in HH. Earthy, almost rough, but tons of flavor. I like it.
But I leave (running, of course, to catch one of the few 705 buses still heading west this time of day) with one memory: That first squelchy mouthful of the tuna. Gadzooks but that made my day.
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