MEXICAN “STREET FOOD” THAT SATISFIES
I’m not really sure what the term Mexican “street food” is supposed to mean, other than small street corner type tacos, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I visited Cocina Condesa in Studio City. I kind of figured that the cocktails would be a wash and that the food would probably be underwhelming. Let’s just say I was happy to be wrong!
The drinks were pretty stellar and the food was mostly spot-on. The Guacamole Fuego was hardly spicy and the Guacamole Chingon (love the name) disappointed with “crispy chicharrones” simply thrown in for good measure rather than be an actual working ingredient to the guac. The rice and beans weren’t all that but otherwise I was really impressed, which is often hard to do when I go out for Mexican food.
Cocktail wise we started with the Boyz in the Hood, which came wrapped in a brown paper bag. A mix of gin, Quina Tonic, fresh lime juice, Colt 45 simple syrup and club soda, this is a refreshing drink that’s just perfect for day drinking. Consider this a weekend brunch must have.
Another crowd pleaser was the El Chapo, a mix of rye whiskey, maple syrup, black walnut bitters, orange bitters and orange peel expression. Not surprisingly, the El Chapo was a “hit”. It’s boozy in that Manhattan and Old Fashioned way.
At Cocina Condesa, Executive Chef Eddie Garcia brings about bold flavors and fresh, seasonally conscious ingredients. His career has included working relationships with Malo in Silverlake, and City Tavern in Culver City. Chef has also studied with the likes of Executive Chef Mary Sue Milliken and Executive Chef Susan Feniger of Border Grill fame.
A great starter item from the Antojitos (“little cravings”) section of the menu is the Agua Chile, a light and fresh mix of Mexican gulf shrimp, papaya lime water, red onion and cucumber chips. This dish is just very pleasing. Likewise, the Street Corn—Tapatio aioli, cotija cheese, chili and lime—served on the cob is delicious.
Tacos are a must at Cocina Condesa. Served two per order with house-made tortillas, the veggie friendly Calabaza, Maiz & Hongos (roasted butternut squash, sweet corn, shitake mushrooms and lime chive aioli) is a delight. This is a winner for any non-meat eater. And if you do like meat, get the Chorizo & Papas made with peewee potatoes, radishes and charred jalapeños. Other taco choices include Al Pastor, asada, carnitas, and beer battered shrimp, among others.
If you’re looking for another good drink, the Maestro with Mezcal Espadin, fresh lemon juice, Fresno chi infused honey, fresh ginger, and Chapulines-spiced salt rim is a damn fine spicy drink.
For our big plate entrees, we went with the Crespas de Langosta (lobster crepes), which were extremely tasty. There’s just no way that the combination of lobster, tarragon crepes, avocado crème sauce, and radish cucumber salad won’t win you over. Likewise, the Short Rib Birria with braised short rib, grilled frisee and tomato salad, and sautéed shitake mushrooms was terrific. Other menu options looked very tempting but these were two solid choices.
If you save room for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the chocolate brownie and fried ice cream, or the dark rum flan. Both are decadent and just so good. Nevermind your diet and don’t even think of counting calories, just go for it! You may regret it in the morning but you you’ll be a happy camper at the dinner table—guaranteed.
Cocina Condesa is located at 11616 Ventura Blvd in Studio City. Open daily, including weekend brunch. Call 818-579-42464.
Some Photography Courtesy Of: Cocina Condesa
Story by Jose Martinez