Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Otaez Takes a Hit

Otaez Vs. La Penca Azul- Round I

$4 "Beer of the month" - Pyramid Hefeweizen
Winner: Otaez

Can't comment on the Piña Colada as I didn't try it, but cute as hell.

Mostly families towards the front, with the rowdy over-40 club just within earshot over at the bar.  
(La Penca Azul:  Sorry, WHAT?!!)
Winner: La Penca.  At Otaez it's just too easy to think you're going to run into your former gym teacher, or worse, that the woman cackling loudly at the bar is your mom.

 -Veggie Burrito- 
Less about the value, more about the burrito itself.  Strikes 1, 2 and 3: spinach tortilla not mentioned in description on menu, apparently hot pico de gallo counts as a "vegetable" here, cold unmelted cheese.
(La Penca: grilled vegetables in a flour tortilla with a *gag* whole wheat option marked clearly on the menu)
Winner: La Penca - but only by about a mile.

-Grilled chicken taco-
 Looks beautiful, but no comment.

-Cheese enchilada Mexicana-  
Strikes one and two: completely lifeless raw cabbage and Jack cheese instead of traditional Oaxaca or even Panera would have been nice.  Homeruns: incredibly garlicky red sauce drenching a beautifully flash fried corn tortilla, porky delicious refried beans.
(La Penca: flacid, soggy tortilla blanched in watery red sauce and filled with the same standard Jack).
Winner: Otaez.  Dining companion can be quoted as saying, "Best goddamn enchilada I've had in this country."

-Chips and salsa-
Chips: the chips definitely didn't have the same "just fried" temperature and texture as the chips from La Penca, but I'm counting the smaller portions and less frequent refills as a point for the joint.  
Salsa: while Otaez' is definitely thinner, what it lacks in body it more than makes up for in spice level and flavor.  The smoky background obviously comes from charred vegetables, I also think that it's made in smaller batches because there was just the slightest bit of inconsistency between the bowls that we got, which I loved.  Great citruisy highlights, very top heavy in terms of heat.
(La Penca: deep red, almost maroon-colored salsa made of charred onions and tomatoes, with a smooth chipotle background.  Thick, chunky and bottomless.)
Winner:  La Penca, can't get this stuff down fast enough.

La Penca wins this round 3/5.


  1. The raw cabbage on the enchilada was absolutely necessary but I agree with you. It was just thrown on the plate. The cheese inside I was not a big fan of but man that enchilada was the BEST! Please make sure to order the "Enchilada Mexicana" for a life changing experience. :)
    Trust me...I know enchiladas.

  2. Great review! Your comments on atmosphere are so, so true. I am definitely trying the Enchilada Mexicana next time.

    Oh, and the taco was alright..I mainly ordered it for the rice and beans.