In my lifetime, I’ve known two different kinds of Mexican food: the Americanized stuff that is covered in cheese and the authentic kind that you can only get at some hole-in-the-wall with sticky tables.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I love those sticky-table places. That, to me, is true auténtico. But Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant has showed me what can happen when you elevate Mexican food beyond the taco. I can’t believe that I’ve lived in Long Beach for thirty years and never even heard of this place. I’d driven past it thousands of times, but never even noticed it was there.
I was out with some girlfriends who just got their hurrs did. Their fabulous stylist told them that they just HAD to try Enrique’s, and we took his advice the next day. BOY, is that Martin gonna get a fat tip the next time the girls go in! Enrique’s is amazing.
The second we walked in, we saw another diner feasting on the pork shank, an off-menu item that’s legendary on Yelp. We knew that we had to try it. We ended up ordering that, the sea bass, the frog legs, and the carnitas taco.
As we waited for our food, we nibbled (okay, gorged) on complimentary chips and salsa. Their salsa is something else: it’s like a baja salsa mixed with a pico de gallo. It’s both fresh and saucy, just like us girls.
Then, the food came. OH, the food.
The pork shank is the size of your head and swimming in a tangy sauce served over rice. The meat fell off the bone, and was so tender and juicy that we were all practically in tears.
The sea bass was served over wilted greens with a bit of broth. It was perfectly cooked, and the greens added some freshness to the dish.
The frog legs were covered in glorious amounts of garlic and served with buttery rice and grilled zucchini. There were four legs on the plate, and they came from a frog that probably told all his friends in a defensive tone that he was big-boned, but, trust me: he was just FAT.
The carnitas taco was the size of a burrito, contained two fistfuls of meat, and was doused with a healthy serving of guacamole. It was served with rice and a sea of beans.
By the end of the meal, all of our waistbands were begging for mercy.
Our server was great; attentive without being intrusive, funny without being obnoxious. He told us that we just had to save room for dessert. When we asked if they served Mexican coffee, he quipped, “No… but the guy who makes it is Mexican.”
We cracked up and, when we calmed down, he told us that the coffee really was good there. So we ordered two cups of COFFEE to split. He was right; it was really good; rich, but not too bitter. And they serve it with full-on heavy cream. None of that half-and-half crap for Enrique’s! It was the perfect way to end the night.
After we’d paid, the server came back and told us that he’d see us next week. And, you know, he just might.
Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant
6210 E. Pacific Coast Highway
Long Beach, CA 90803