>> Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Who doesn't love a best kept secret?
Angela's Cafe seems like that at first glance. A small, family-owned restaurant in the middle of a residential neighborhood in East Boston, it's easy to miss while driving by. At the same time, how could you miss that bright and cheerful little building?
Looks can be deceiving, and this place is far from secret. Step inside and you'll immediate see the numerous awards and articles splashed all over the walls. It seems like every food writer out there has tried this place except for me. Do a quick search on Chowhound and over and over, people recommend "Angela's Cafe" as one of their favorite Mexican restaurants in Boston.
So finally . . finally . . a group of food-loving women and I decided to make the trek out to East Boston* (which, in retrospect, wasn't that far of a trek) to try this elusive place.
I loved it from the moment I stepped in. This family run restaurant is cozy, warm, and super inviting. The place is small, and really can't hold more than 20 people max. The waitress was super friendly and took the time to really explain all the dishes to us.
Favoritos de Angela
Chicken Mole Gordita, Tinga Tostada, Taco Arabe, Ceviche Tostada, Taco Pastor, Rajas Poblanas, Verde Chorizo Gordita, and Nopales Tostada
We started out with a sampler of appetizers, which were all wonderful. I love small bites in general, but I was thrilled to see gorditas, which I love. The only other place in Boston I've ever had them is at Cantina La Mexicana (which I also love). Everything was made with really fresh ingredients and had wonderfully complex flavors.
Here they are, one by one.
Shrimp Ceviche Tostada
Crispy corn tortilla layered with srimp, re-fried pinto beans, shredded lettuce, sour cream, Mexican cheese, and a slice of avocado
Taco Al Pastor
Roasted pork with adobo sauce and diced fresh pineapple, served with onion and cilantro
Verde Chorizo Gordita
This was probably my favorite appetizer. I loved the spicy deep flavors of the chorizo, which worked so well with the cornmeal based gordita.
Ripe avocado dip served with tortilla chips.
I have to say that this guacamole was AMAZING . . . probably one of the best guacamoles I've ever had in my life. I loved how there were still clear chunks of avocados inside. This thicker, lumpier texture is achieved by using a coase mortar and pestle to make the guacamole. The ingredients are simple, yet this dish totally works. None of us could stop eating this one.
Here's a another picture- this was sooooo good.
Crispy corn tortilla strips in a chicken tomato broth, slice of avocado and Mexican cheese.
I also loved this soup. The broth was very flavorful yet not heavy at all. The Mexican cheese reminded me of mozarella and worked perfectly with the other ingredients (avocados and tortilla strips) in the soup. I would definitely order this again if I came back.
Special: Chiles Rellenos and Pork with Mole Poblano de Angela
We ordered one of their specials, which allowed us to try their signature dish alongside another dish. The Mole Poblano de Angela is their signature dish, whose prize ingredient is mole poblano (pronounced mo-lay), a dark, earthy sauce made from a variety of dried chiles, nuts, and seeds with sweet chocolate cooked over a period of several days (I think the waitress told us FIVE days!). You top this deep, rich sauce over the meat of your choice (we chose pork). Chilies Rellenos are stuffed Poblano peppers with cheese, battered in egg lightly fried.
I thought the mole had an interesting deep complex flavor. I could definitely taste the chocolate, which was interesting. We all loved the Chiles Rellenos, which were filled with that same Mexican cheese that was in the soup. Unfortunately, the pork was a bit dry compared to the rich flavors of the sauce.
Sesame and/or pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, green tomatillo, and jalapeños, served with chicken breast or pork loin
This unique sauce was also flavorful with a slight kick, although again, the meat was a bit dry.
We started to notice a trend. The sauces that they make are really flavorful, wonderfully complex, and delicious, but for some reason the meat always seems to be quite well done and sort of dry. Maybe as a result of all the sous vide cooking I've been doing lately, I'm kind of spoiled when it comes to meat texture now!
Dishes come with a side of rice, which everyone agreed was really good. It was moist, fragrant, and reminded me a bit of rice that you would find in a Spanish paella.
The bread/tortillas are homemade, which are excellent.
We shared a flan for dessert, and even though we were all beyond stuffed, we really enjoyed it.
This is a great little family restaurant with a lot of really good Mexican food. The dishes are made by Angela herself, who learned the traditional cuisine of the Puebla region from her mother. Angela had already been working as a professional chef for 50 years before she opened Angela's Cafe. That's a wealth of experience right there! The place is so warm and friendly - you really get that small-family-owned-restaurant feel. There was a birthday celebration at the next table and Angela herself came out (middle one in the photo above), armed with a cake and ready to sing.
We absolutely loved all of the "favoritos" (the appetizers in our sampler plate), and seriously, that guacamole is to die for. My personal favorites were the guacamole, the gorditas, and the soup. Although the moles and the other sauces were delicious and had complex flavors, we were all a little disappointed by the texture of the meat, which in general we thought was a little overdone. If only I could buy the sauce and top it on my own sous vide meat at home, heh heh . . .
Nevertheless, don't let that stop you from coming here! Overall, the food is fantastic and there are so many worthy dishes to try. We're lucky we even have access to such good Puebla cuisine here in Boston. I would highly recommend making the trek out to East Boston to try this little gem!
*Note: I took the T on the blue line to Maverick station and got picked up by a friend who drove me the rest of the way. The restaurant is not more than a 5-minute drive from the T station. I think it's possible to walk from Maverick Station, but it's probably at least a 15-20 minute walk, if not more. If you drive, there is plenty of unrestricted parking in the surrounding neighborhood.
131 Lexington St
Boston, MA 02128