700 E Commonwealth Ave
Fullerton, CA 92831
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Entree: Estofado con Puerco
Whenever I tell people about this little blog here that I run one of the first things they tend to think is that is that I'm on a mission to find and eat the weirdest, most exotic foods out there, as though my life is a never-ending Fear Factor. Well, I don't actively seek out bizarre foods but in my quest to provide complete coverage of Mexican food in Orange County it's hard to not encounter some out-of-the-ordinary food from time to time.
Now, El Fortin is a mini-chain with two locations, one in Stanton and the other in Fullerton, with the Fullerton one being much more well-known. Both locations specialize in Oaxacan food and are known for serving chapulines (grasshoppers). However, I actually covered the Stanton location first. In that review I talked about eating one grasshopper when the waiter "encouraged" me to.
When I finally got to the Fullerton location two days ago I met up with frequent guest reviewer Johnny Automatic and his friend Luis, a Mexican who has travelled extensively throughout Mexico. Like me they weren't aiming incontrovertibly to eat chapulines but we still knew we had to at least try some.
We decided the best way to do this would be to share a Quesadilla con Chapulines. As you can see above they stuffed quite a few whole grasshoppers into the quesadilla. Oddly enough, Luis had the hardest time stomaching it while Johnny gobbled his right up. I was somewhere in the middle. There's nothing off-putting about the taste but you can definitely tell you are eating grasshoppers and discern every distinct part of their bodies. Still, I can think of worse things to eat.
You can even buy a t-shirt here that proudly proclaims that you ate grasshoppers at El Fortin Oaxacan Restaurant. But be honest, don't buy one if you didn't actually eat some.
Like at the Stanton location El Fortin's horchata comes with a shot of watermelon syrup, diced cantaloupe, and a sprinkling of walnuts on the top. They very nicely made me a non-walnut variety.
For an entree I got the Estofado con Puerco, sort of a Mexican curry: "Chicken or Pork covered with Oaxaca's mole made from sesame, tomatillos, chiles, raisins, olives and spices. Served with rice."
John and Luis both got the Enchiladas de Mole Negro o Coloradito con Chorizo, Quesillo, Tasajo o Cecina for $5.99: "Three tortillas rolled around chicken dipped in either red or black mole and sprinkled with cabbage and cheese. Served with choice of tasajo, chorizo, Cecina Enchilada or quesillo on the top with rice and beans on the side." The listed price is for one ingredient. Each additional ingredient is 80 cents extra. Johnny got the enchiladas with the coloradito and cecina enchilada (the spicy coated fried pork strips). The enchiladas were filled with chicken.
Luis got the Negro mole con quesillo. Look at the cheese on that, like very thick string cheese. I remarked that it looked more like rope.
Here's Johnny's input on the visit:
It was fun to try the chapulines and I really didn't have the squeamish factor. But between the heavy spices on them, all the frying and the rich cheese it was pretty heavy fare.
The smoky quality of the mole negro was very nice. I found their negro mole to be less sweet and with less chocolate flavor than others.
I actually liked my mole coloradito better and I know Luis also agreed. It was a really excellent balance of sweet, hot, spicy, chocolate and chiles.
I finished my own meal up with a flan (surprise, surprise) and found it to be very soft and melt-in-your-mouth:
El Fortin earns a four Speedy Gonzales rating:
Just wanted to add that today is the two year anniversary of this blog and, believe me, we have plenty of more content coming.
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