Friday, July 29, 2005

CLOSED! mexican: LA CASITA

CLOSED
a/o August 2010

LA CASITA
No. 7 on Lane 64, SongJiang Rd.,1F
(02) 2531-9246

pricing: $-$$

kid friendliness: room for strollers

lasted visited: 7.29.2005

The first time I went to La Casita was earlier this spring, after craving Mexican food for weeks and not knowing where to find it in Taipei, a quick google named about 3-4 places. I called first, asked when they closed, and they said if we came over that they would stay open for us (I think it was about their afternoon siesta time). I went there with a friend, and he asked the owner for his recommendations for us. We had nachos to start, chicken enchilada for me, and beef burrito for him. He said that his ground beef burrito tasted similar to a meximelt from Taco Bell (which he likes, so it was sort of a compliment, meaning that what the owner chose for him was appropriate). I also was craving chicken enchilada, so we were quite pleased with what the owner recommended. We left satisfied and happy to return again to this mom and pop mexican hole in the wall. We also thought it was a funny coincidence that the owners were relatives of a friend of a friend.

Our most recent experience however, was unfortunately not quite the same. I called first, confirming the address and asked if we had to make reservations for 4-5 people. She asked when we were coming and I said that we were leaving soon- and she said that she would set the table for 4 and add a seat for the 5th person if we needed. I said that was fine. We arrived in different taxis and I was excited to introduce this hidden place to three friends. When we arrived, there were about 4 other customers there occupying 2 tables, and the place is pretty small, with about 4-5 tables in total.

The menu has a selection of appetizers, including chips, nachos and quesidillas, then an assortment of burritos, chimichangas, tacos, enchiladas and combo plates which include a side of rice and beans. There are also fajitas, margaritas and desserts.

Like most mexican or tex-mex places in Taiwan, they charge you for chips, salsa or any accompaniments. We ordered nachos to start, with beef, guacamole and salsa (all additional separate charges) which made them about $10 US. The chips were crispy and topped with nacho cheese, beef and jalepenos. The cheese was like nacho cheese, maybe like the kind you would find at the movie theater, or melt yourself at home from a jar, rather than shredded cheese that was melted on top. The guacamole and salsa looked homemade, and the portion came in a small side bowl. The salsa was pretty spicy, but you can tell them what level of spiciness you want when you order your dishes. It was a decent sized plate of chips, but not enough for five people to share, so we had to order another set.

Because La Casita is a smaller place, everything is basically run by the two owners and their family. They take the orders and then go back to the kitchen and make it. They have two daughters (I think) who come and bus the tables and bring over dishes when they are ready. So you have to have an open mind with the service and be patient since each dish is being made by one person.

The atmosphere is cute and quaint with murals along both sides of the wall, and signatures of previous customers raving about the food or their visit, and making their mark that they were there. It's entertaining to read while you are waiting and you may find a name or two that you recognize.

I ordered a chicken enchilada and chicken chimichanga combo. Overall, I enjoyed the dish- the chimichanga was crispy and the shredded chicken in both were tender. The enchilada had a good amount of cheese and sauce and last time the owner said that the corn in the corn tortilla were made from purple corn. However, the dish was topped with sour cream, which I don't like, but scraped to the side, and no guacamole and a tiny bit of salsa (which I thought I saw came with enchilada).

I also found the dish overall to be a bit salty as did some of the other people that night. I finished most of the food, including the rice, which I liked. The refried beans were a bit dry and I left more than half of that on my plate. The other three people got various assortments of combo plates, which were mostly finished, though I have to say I was disappointed that one person's order was wrong- he ordered a beef burrito and chicken taco and got the reverse, a beef burrito and a beef taco.

Our dishes all came one at a time, and we were pretty much all finished by the fifth person's fajitas came. This was a combo of it being the fifth dish, as well as being shrimp fajitas, I think. When the shrimp fajitas finally came they were not peeled and the heads were still on the shrimp. It looked more chinese than mexican, and the friend whose order it was said it tasted that way. In addition to us all staring at him because we were done and we were curious, he later said the shrimp tasted funny so he had it packed to go. He actually also requested that we stop by Burger King after we left and he ordered a sandwich.

The other thing about that night that left a bad taste in my friends' mouth was that once our food started to come, the restaurant had emptied out. We were cramped into a table for four with five people (four guys) and asked the owner if we could move one of the empty tables to adjoin ours and create more space. He seemed to be in a bad mood and responded "You made a reservation for four." which actually was not true- I had talked to the other owner and explained the situation when I called. The table _was_ occupied when we came, but was now available, as well as the rest of the restaurant. He was more rude than accomodating, as well as when I went to order the extra nachos, he pointed towards the kitchen, rather than accepting the order himself. Later on, he went outside and stood outside grumpily and walked around. This left quite a bad impression on my friends, who felt that he shouldn't have come that day if he was in a bad mood, and it was definitely a contrast to the last time he had greeted us.

So unfortunately, I would say, that if you are really really craving mexican food- you can stop by La Casita. But don't go with a larger or odd numbered group, don't order the fajitas (if you want fajitas, Chilis and TGIF actually have good fajitas) and maybe even get your order to go. I was going to take pictures, but I was kind of scared- maybe the next time if I can convince someone to go with me!

8 comments:

JG said...

BOO the owner.
FOOD 2/5 SERVICE 3/5 (owner gets 0/5)
Last word: I would open my own mexican restaurant here.

Jean said...

i'll go with you to try it.. although i'm sure it won't compare to el tarasco.. OR the california burrito and carne asada fries i'm having this weekend!! yum!!

jh said...

it DEFINITELY will not compare with el tarasco!!!!!!!! or poquito mas or california burrito. you are making me HUNGRY!

Jean said...

i'm making "hungry girl" hungry? so then would you be "hungrier girl"? HAHAHAHHAHAHAH

okay.. it's too late for me to be up.

Anonymous said...

We booked a table on a Sunday, and the food was quite good, and vegetarian friendly. The young girl who served us, was clearly not into being there, and I assume was part of the family. But the food was nice, and came out hot. I would recommend this place, and it is definitely better than Amigos or Tequila Sunrise in my book. But it's small, so not so easy to get a place on a busy night, I assume.

joanh said...

jg: please do!!

jean: i miss el tarasco.

anonymous: thanks for commenting! yes, La Casita is probably the only place I've gone back for the food, over Amigos or Tequila Sunrise. Especially the enchiladas. That's funny what you said about the server though-- that's probably the most uneven part of the place.

clare said...

i always have great service there- maybe its not over the top tgi- chilis american accent 'what can we get you' but its family run. it is family run, the girls are the two daughters and they serve you in between doing there homework and are clearly exhausted but they're never rude and get you everything you want and always top up your water. it is foreign food but its a taiwanese restaurant. if u want western ott service go to chilis. its a place like most other taiwanese food joints. u go to eat. its not fancy fancy sing u happy bday. but u do get a free tequila shot if it is.

i don't think you could possibly call anything over priced. if u add all the dips to the nachos yeah its expensive but there is a lot of dip and you don't need them all. the sets are great value including beans and rice.

in my opinion its the best mexican in taipei. im not mexican but mexicans have told me so and they are hard to please.

i dont agree with most of the previous reviews but theyre 3 yrs old so maybe they've improved. do go check it out tho.

Online Credit Score said...

I live in downtown LA. There is a Mexican road side vendor within walking distance from my apartment. They serve very good for too! US$1 for each tacos!

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