Mexican cuisine is one of my favorites, and over the years, I've eaten at hundreds of Mexican restaurants. Just like north of the border, there are many regional variations in Mexican cuisine, which makes for fascinating eating. During my many Mexican dining experiences, I've eaten mostly food typical of northern Mexico, and never enjoyed the cuisine from the southern part of the country. Today, I enjoyed my first taste of Oaxaca, at Mezcalito Oaxacan Cuisine, located in Rocklin, CA.
As with all restaurant reviews I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: Mezcalito Oaxacan Cuisine is located on Pacific Street, in downtown Rocklin. I found it interesting to note this fine restaurant is signed different than the official name, but I assume they wanted to display the word "Mexican" in case somebody wasn't familiar with Oaxacan cuisine.
It's a sunny, beautiful early Saturday afternoon, November 21, 2020, and I've arrived to enjoy my first taste of Oaxacan cuisine.
Photo: As you walk in the door, you'll note the dining room is very small, and the few tables are widely spaced to allow for the current "social distancing" in effect during these COVID-19 days. Actually, Placer County isn't permitting indoor dining at this writing, so all dining happens outside on the permanent patio, and in front, on the sidewalk, under the shady awnings.
The decor is quite simple, but the dining room is tidy and clean. Above the waistcoating on the left wall are mirrors, which make the dining room appear larger than it really is.
Photo: The cash register is at the rear of the restaurant, and if you look past it, you can see into the kitchen. As I entered the restaurant, I headed to the counter to let the staff know that I was planning to enjoy my lunch on the sidewalk, so I wouldn't be missed, which occasionally happens when you're dining outside. After being handed a menu, I couldn't resist taking of photo of the kitchen!
Photo: The first page of the menu starts off with "Appetizers," and includes selections listed as "Specialties." After looking at both sides of the menu, I went with the "Surf and Turf Molcajete," as it sounded perfect for this lovely Saturday afternoon.
Photo: The Mexican state of Oaxaca is in the extreme southern section of the country, along the Pacific coast, and seafood is widely enjoyed in the region. There are lots of choices in the "Seafood" section of the menu, not to mention there are vegetarian options, for those so inclined.
Photo: Thanks to the current county mandate, all dining must be done outside, but at Mezcalito Oaxacan Cuisine, that restriction isn't a problem, as the adjoining patio is a permanent fixture of the restaurant. Note the large propane heaters, to make chilly evening dining comfortable.
Photo: I chose to dine on the sidewalk patio, which is temporary until the county shakes off the grip of the virus, and allows indoor dining to return. Today's temperature was in the upper 50's and sunny, which made for pleasant dining. As you dine, you can watch the action of Pacific Street, and enjoy the fall colors.
Photo: Meet my amazingly friendly server, Kendra, who brings my lunch to my patio table with a smile. My lunch arrived in about fifteen minutes after placing my order, which is fast! Kendra not only is friendly, but she's strong, as the molcajete itself weighs about 20 pounds, and she carried it, the bowl of sides, the stack of tortillas and my beer, all at the same time!
Photo: Thanks, Kendra, for taking my photo, as I prepare to enjoy my delicious lunch.
Photo: From the "Specialties" section of the menu, I chose to go with the "Surf and Turf Molcajete," as I hadn't enjoyed a molcajete for a long time, and I was curious to see how this fine stew is produced Oaxacan-style. I wasn't disappointed!
In case you're not familiar with this dish, it gets it's name from the large, heavy, clay pot, which is "molcajete" in Spanish. Molcajete is served all over Mexico, but the ingredients vary widely from region to region.
The menu lists the ingredients in this savory stew as chicken, mussels, wild prawns, tasajo, onion, peppers, nopal, chipotle pepper, quesillo and Mexcalito's "special sauce." "Tasajo" is a thinly-sliced tri-tip steak, and "quesillo" is a white, semi-hard cheese made in Oaxaca, with a texture similar to mozzarella and a taste similar to Monterey jack. The menu doesn't mention the cucumber slices for garnish, and enhanced presentation of this wonderful stew.
Also included is a small dish with black beans, Mexican rice, diced tomato, guacamole, and it's topped with a dollop of sour cream. A stack of warm, toasted corn tortillas accompanies your meal, which is perfect to sop up the goodness of any leftover "special sauce" you missed with your spoon. I ordered a bottle of Modelo beer, to go along with this fine lunch.
"Surf and Turf" is a great description, as you get five grilled chicken strips, four mussels, five large, juicy, prawns, and a generous serving of tasajo. The meat and seafood may be the foundation of the meal, but the onion, peppers, nopal and all the other goodies round out this amazing meal, and it's topped with a generous portion of quesillo cheese. The savory, flavorful "special sauce" bonds all the ingredients together and makes for a fine base to this amazing seafood and meat stew. I might add that all ingredients were amazingly fresh and of the highest quality.
The black beans were most likely stewed - not fried - and included lots of thick juice. The rice was great, as it was Mexican rice, which is prepared very similar in all parts of the country. The diced tomato, along with the guacamole added a cool touch to the meal, and the toping of sour cream added enhanced flavor.
My lunch was simply amazing, as all ingredients in the molcajete worked together, along with the sides, and the stack of corn tortillas. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed such a delicious, exotic lunch!
Photo: Looking at the "Surf and Turf Molcajete," you can see all of the goodness, including strips of chicken, mussels, and a couple of the large prawns. The diced cucumber along with the quesillo cheese added and amazing touch.
Photo: The bowl of sides was on the small side, but everything in it was fresh and delicious. The topping of sour cream added a nice touch.
Today's dining experience at Mezcalito Oaxacan Cuisine was both amazing and exotic, as my "Surf and Turf Molcajete" was flavorful, filling and delicious, the friendly staff treated me like family, and the charming patio - along with the beautiful, sunny weather - made for a very pleasant dining experience.
When you're looking to savor the taste of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, think about Mezcalito Oaxacan Cuisine, located in Rocklin, CA.
Mezcalito Oaxacan Cuisine
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