By this time you all must think that I’m totally obsessed with the cuisine of our neighbors down south, but please, you can’t resist those warm, colorful, comfort foods that Latin America has brought to us in one form or another. I remember a period of my life where Mexican food was a once a week outing. I just couldn’t get enough of those tamales, house-made chips and salsa, and mole all over the place.
This month, when I opened Louisville’s Food and Dining magazine, I found a serious spread on a new area restaurant called Guaca Mole, and I’ll just tell you now that they deserved all of the praise in that article. The food is presented beautifully, as the vibrant works of art that nature’s edible media should be. The flavor combinations in their cocktails as well as their appetizers and main courses employ new and fresh ideas (at least to the Louisville scene). Finally, the ambiance of the place is awesome! I loved the colors, the Dia de los Muertos painted skeletons, and especially the different service dishes that complimented the shape and intention of each course.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? My friend and I put our name on the waiting list (expected) and made our way to the packed bar for some entertainment whilst waiting. The drink list is perfect: they don’t have an unnecessarily large quanitity of cocktails, but they have just enough that you want to read up on them all to make sure you made the right choice. That night I went for the Poblano-Berry Margarita and my accomplice for the evening chose the Morena. The Poblano-Berry Margarita was absolutely wonderful; the combination of blueberries and poblano peppers is choice, and I am tempted to try it in my own recipe (posible con chilaquiles?). The Morena was a tamarind-based cocktail, which lends its own sweet-earthy tones to its tastiness. It is not often you find blueberries, poblano peppers, and tamarind on a drink menu, so that was the first delightful discovery of the evening.
Not too long after that we were led to our table (it certainly didn’t take the 45 minutes that we originally agreed to). Then the excitement went full throttle…the menu arrived in all its glory. I was so overwhelmed we had to get an appetizer to buy some more time for menu-viewing. When the awesomely sassy waitress came back with our Guacamole (I know, we had to do it), we asked for yet another appetizer, the smoked fish tacos, because we still weren’t sure about our main course…so many potential delectibilities. Finally, we settled on the Camarones a la Diabla (She-devil shrimp) and the Carnitas (slow-roasted pork).
The guacamole was a sight to encounter. It came out in a gorgeous lava-stone mortar filled with creamy guacamole and tortilla chips. It was garnished with ruby-red tomatoes and red onion, and served atop a banana leaf (probably to make cleaning that mortar a little easier). It was worthy of having its name on the front of the building—I think that’s all the description it needs.
|Smoked Fish Tacos|
The Smoked Fish Taquitos appetizer was to die for. It changed my opinion of fish tacos completely—whereas before it was something to avoid, now it is definitely on the top of my list. The fish had a deep smoky flavor, one that I haven’t had in a very long time, if ever, and the beautiful sweet and spicy peppers they sliced on top (jalapeños and serranos in lime juice, if I’m not mistaken) with the cooling grated jicama was the best combination of anything I have ever tasted in a taco. The taquitos were also the most adorable things I have ever seen: they were about as big as the palm of your hand and they could be eaten in two bites…two glorious bites. The serving platter was a special vessel with individual slats made to hold these mini-taquitos, so you could tell that it was a house specialty from the food to the plate.
Then the main event arrived when our Camarones a la Diabla and the Carnitas made their entrance. Both dishes were served with refried black beans (score!) and white rice, a combination that I absolutely adore. The Carnitas were succulent and just fell apart with a nudge of the fork, but at the same time they didn’t lose their texture (because mushy carnitas are a no no) they were joined by a glorious tomatillo salsa verde, pickled red onions, and crema mexicana—pure happiness is an understatement for that meal.
|Camarones a la Diabla|
The Camarones a la Diabla were stunning. The shrimp were fresh with the taste of the sea, and they were cooked perfectly. The sauce that the shrimp were slathered in was the real star of the show though, bringing depth and spice with its estimated 15 ingredients (my personal guess). This dish was also served with julienned jicama, which balances well with the spice and adds that wonderful texture of super water-based fruits and vegetables (think celery and watermelon).
In the end, hunger was duefully defeated, barely leaving room for words. My experience at Guaca Mole was a great one. I only post good reviews on my blog because I want you all to know what I think is the best of Louisville. It also helps a lot that I share my meals with wonderful people, and as many of you would agree, that makes a lot of difference.
Gracias a los Maestros de la Cocina: Fernando y Yaniel Martínez...the geniuses behind Guaca Mole.
¡Que aproveches! Eat up Louisville!
¡Que aproveches! Eat up Louisville!
9921 Ormbsy Station Rd
Find them on Facebook: Guaca Mole Louisville