Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mama's Mexican Kitchen

I'm originally from upstate New York, meaning that my idea of Mexican food was somewhat limited to chain restaurants serving cheesy, greasy, gooey glop with sour cream on top. It never sat well and, for most of my life, I thought Mexican food and I just didn't mix.

Of course now I know better after having experienced the fresh, citrusy Mexican dishes of the west coast. My favorite joint in Seattle is La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard, hands-down. To start, they offer just-fried warm and salty tortilla chips along with a bar of fresh salsas. And their small plates! The chicken mole is implausibly good, and the halibut tacos with lime wedges and crunchy slaw on soft, homemade corn tortillas are a far cry from the heavy, oily dishes of yore.

However, there is a time and a place for some stick-to-your-ribs Tex-Mex. So last night, before heading to the Big Picture Cinema, we stopped at one of Seattle's oldest Mexican joints, Mama's Mexican Kitchen. Awarded the Best Enchilada medal for good-bad Mexican food by The Stranger. I had to try it for myself.

I ordered 2 chicken enchiladas served with Mexican rice and refried beans. The review was pretty much spot-on: greasy, cheesy and very saucy. The plate arrived with a crescent of rice on the left and a thickly-blanketed, cheese-covered mess on the right. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's not having enough sauce. But Mama's fared pretty well in this department. An ample supply of red enchilada sauce kept the tortilla and chicken filling nice and moist... and the copious pools of grease acted as back-up.

Overall, my dish was much too mild (I would have preferred a little kick) but it did the job. I don't think I'll ever convert over to the heavy, greasy, cheesy camp but as far as good-bad Mexican is concerned, Mama's delivers.

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