Dave, Edwin, Shuji and I have written so much about Alebrije's that we could publish a book about it (or--cue Oscar Bluth--am I?). It's all about the food: Mexico City-style favorites like pambazos, quesadillas and alambres, and the legendary taco acorazado, that monster of milanesa and masa that remains an essential OC eat.
But owner-chef Albert Hernandez doesn't rest on his laurels. Last week, he debuted a new look for his lonchera: wrapped ala the luxe youngsters, but keeping the Cadillac-pink tone that makes it so distinctive. And, better yet, there are new items on the menu, making Alebrije's stronger than ever.
The big local lonchera trend in the past couple of years has been street food from Cuernavaca, specifically the blooming of the taco acorazado and the picadita, which you can see below.
Think of it as a bigger, better sope--and a simpler one, at that. All it is is freshly grilled masa, thick and chewy, topped with a pool of crema fresca and salsa, a dusting of cotija cheese--and that's it. No meat. Hernadez puts the sides of his impeccably sauteed onions and grilled cactus paddles.
Many of the loncheras in SanTana sells them, but Alebrije's already makes the best. Since it's prepared fresh, the masa is still piping hot--but the crema fresca cools, the onions sweeten, the cheese adds tang. And don't underestimate that green salsa: I, who loves his habaneros raw, was sweating toward the end, much to Hernandez's glee.
Also on the menu: beso de monja, a Cuernavacan speciality so rare that most of the wabs who come by ask what it is. Hernandez, cognizant that even most Mexicans in SanTana don't know Cuernavacan cuisine, has helpfully printed large pictures of entrees in the ordering side of his truck, with ingredients as captions. And that's not all: Hernandez plans a mobile truck next year to complement the anchor on Cubbon and Main streets. "Time for me to get into this gourmet food truck phase," Hernandez said.
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Luxe loncheras: be warned. Eaters: rejoice!