>> Monik's Barbacoa Estilo Texcoco | Eat the World Los Angeles

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Monik's Barbacoa Estilo Texcoco

MÉXICO 🇲🇽
(ESTADO DE MÉXICO/CDMX)
Once inside the backyard, a view through the tortilla grill and tents

COVID-19 UPDATE: The eating areas are outdoors and tented. Spacing is as expected in a backyard, and masks are worn by staff most of the time despite not having a mandate in San Bernardino County.

There is not an awful lot of noise coming from the backyard restaurant known as Monik's, tucked into a residential neighborhood at the far western reaches of Ontario. Often when you park you will hear music and conversations from the semi-formal eateries that take place behind people's homes around Southern California. But even though you can see tents from the street here, there is not much sound. Entering then is a surprise when all the tables are full of families happily attacking their many plates of food.

The hush, it turns out, is because the food served at this Sundays-only establishment is the type that shuts everyone up. There simply is just no time for words between one delicious bite and the next. A spoonful of salsa gets placed on the next bite as you chew. Lips are still moving when a napkin catches a dollop of crema left behind. Slowing down is just not an option, much like any conversation.

Consomé de barbacoa de borrego

The three final words in the name might make you believe this is a specialist who caters in one type of food, but the operation has continued to grow since its inception. In addition to lamb barbacoa in the style of Texcoco, a small town 25 kilometers from the center of Mexico City that residents of the capital make their way to on weekends for the dish, the chefs here also purvey a wide variety of antojitos proudly served in "estilo DF."

There are tables of local families and other groups enjoying barbacoa by the pound, all their favorite cuts requested and served along with large, freshly made tortillas, chopped onion and cilantro, lime wedges, and squeeze bottles of three housemade salsas. On this visit, a wider variety of foods was desired so the barbacoa was enjoyed via a bowl of consomé (above) and flautas de barbacoa de borrego (below). The consomé is murky with bits of shredded lamb, fatty chunks, chickpeas, and the adobo and smoke that tastes of slow pit cooking.

Flautas de barbacoa de borrego

Flautas are pre-fried and stacked near the entrance. You will see this stack of rolled tortillas as you enter and slide past a grill full of fresh tortillas being made and a giant pot of barbacoa. An order of the flautas has them re-warmed and dressed with salsa verde, lettuce, and crema, and dusted with cheese. Since they were not prepared at this moment, they do have a bit of a tired feeling, but a dip in the consomé brings them right back to life.

The barbacoa is indeed wonderful, but if you have only one chance to come here you might be jealous of the other tables enjoying plates of Distrito Federal-style antojitos. The most impressive of these might be their almost two foot long machetes, massive tortillas folded over into a blade shape and beloved in the capital. These are probably too much for two people to handle, but there are many other options as well.

Sopes (cochinita pibil, cecina, carne asada)

You cannot go wrong with an order of sopes (above), which come in orders of three and can be made with different meats. These masa bases are medium thickness and crispy on the bottom from the grill, smothered with a generous layer of beans and ready for their meats. The plate above includes cochinita pibil, cecina, and carne asada sopes served on an aluminum pizza tray, all topped properly with a mountain of lettuce and an avalanche of cream and grated cheese.

These provide a good vehicle for testing out their three salsas, a typical tomatillo and serrano green salsa, a complex salsa de molcajete, and a magical and fiery salsa de cacahuate. When the dishes started arriving, multiple people working here made sure all three were provided on the table and each was described and encouraged (and warned about in the case of the latter).

Gordita de chicharrón en salsa roja

A combination of a long list of guisados and a daily special of gorditas fritas de asiento (above and below) made an order of a couple of these a no-brainer. Gorditas in Southern California backyards are always a good idea, and was no different here. Especially satisfying was their chicharrón en salsa roja (above), large, perfectly stewed pieces of fatty pork skin in a an earthy, smoky red salsa.

The gorditas themselves are very thin here and crispy from being fried in pork lard. Their pockets are stuffed with far too much meat and other ingredients to allow for clean eating, make sure to lean far forward unless you want a lap full of food.

Gordita de carne deshebrada

The carne deshebrada (above) is another good option, strands of flavorful shredded beef mixed with a few grilled potatoes. It may have been while enjoying this that the third or fourth person came to the table to make sure everything was ok. The team here is obviously so proud of the place they have created and it translates to happy faces on everyone.

On other Sundays you may find daily specials like pozole verde, chilaquiles con huevos, or tlacoyos made with blue masa. It makes the place even more special for those living nearby, the kitchen is always offering new and exciting items and seems to be good at whatever they try. Make sure to put some of the salsa de cacahuate (below) on at least one of your orders, a peanut-based sauce made very spicy with dried chillies. It is excellent.

Salsa de cacahuate

📍 Ontario, Inland Empire (DM on Instagram for address)

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