Mi Casa es Su Casa – Casa Escobar

casa escobar
Casa Escobar was one of the first old school Mexican restaurants I experienced after years and years of
Taco Bell in which I had been brainwashed into thinking that Mexican pizza was authentic. But then I upgraded to ooh la la El Torito, because that’s what you do when you get a real job and go from the Gap to Banana Republic and plastic trays to real plates that could break and omigod, Taco Bell is a fast food chain, and I’m not a plebeian anymore. You know, because El Torito is, like, fancy. ;) I don’t remember the last time I went to El Torito.

casa escobar for steaks, mexican seafood and cocktails
mexican steak n’ seafood, retros ’70s style

I don’t go often to Casa Escobar because the options for Mexican food are abundant in LA. Not only is the actual number of places countless, but there’s quite an extensive variation in styles and cuisines – sit on the curb in your daisy dukes with two tongue tacos from a roaming taco truck to dress up and get down with a margarita in a carved out pineapple at the Velvet Margarita. But every once in a while, I need a good dose of old school 1970s wet bar in the basement rec room, dark, lit by votives in fat pear shaped red cut glass candle holders, red pleather booths, Christmas lights strung up around the perimeter of the bar and servers dressed in bow ties. It’s about that time again for “steaks, mexican, sea foods, and cocktails.” It could be Don Antonio’s, but Casa also offers a crusty Mexican man singing Tom Jones with a synthesizer and guitar in the corner.

casa escobar chips and salsa
i whine, and yet i dine

Every time, I say I’m not going to eat any of the greasy, not-salty-enough tortilla chips that come to the table with salsa that is always too watery and not spicy at all. But I end up wringing a lemon or lime over the basket, salting the chips myself, then crunching through the whole basket, less three or four chips that others at the table can snatch away without getting their hands inadvertently bitten off. Inevitably, I am almost full by the time a server comes around to take an order for dinner. Maybe I’ll just get a bowl of soup. And can we get some more chips?

casa escobar albondigas soup
when i crave meat, it better be balls

Albóndigas are a bit of a mild obsession right now for me, whether braised with garlic and tomatoes as Spanish tapas or swimming in a spicy Mexican albóndigas soup. Casa Escobars’s albóndigas soup is a briny tomato-based broth replete with chopped carrots, celery, onions, and of course, albondigas. They are dense little meatballs with tiny divots that were once filled wth blobules of congealed beef fat that have now melted away during cooking, and are now in the form of a shimmering reddish orange oil halo where broth meets bowl’s edge. Or perhaps the divots used to hold rice grains on the outer surface of the meatball that slipped out and into the broth during a a tempestuous rolling boil. Rice in the broth would explain the barely perceptible starchy thickness to the broth.

casa escobar guacamole
set sail with iceberg on a bumpy avocado ocean

Ordering guacamole in a restaurant is always a cuticle-gnawing gamble. If they purchase it, first of all, smahe on them! Second, the guacamole will be gray, thin and if it doesn’t taste like carbonated avocado with vinegar and preservatives, then it will taste remarkably like the aluminum can or plastic tub that it arrived in yesterday morning. If they actually make the guacamole in-house, again it will be gray and thin because watering it down saves their bottom-line. In either case, the half-cup of over-pureed avocado that comes to the table costs the same as an entire avocado farm in central California. We took the risk and ordered the five dollar guacamole for the first time ever at Casa, and were pleasantly surprised, not only by how much of it they serve, but by the delicate iceberg lettuce sail that garnished it. ;) The guacamole was a simple lumpy mash of pure avocado, so fresh and bright green that there was no need for excessive citrus juice to overcompensate for oftentimes under-ripe yellow or over-bruised to military camouflage. As if I needed to eat more chips. I didn’t. I ate the guacamole with a spoon. :)

casa escobar for excellent tostada
beans, rice, and an afro of iceberg
casa escobar chorizo
activator gel courtesy of liquid pork fat

Tostada isn’t something new, but served with chorizo, it had a new twist. Thick, curled shreds of yellow and white cheese were softening on the edges of a just-removed-from-under-the-warmer enormous oval plate piled high with creamy refried beans on one side and fragrant red Mexican rice on the other. I only knew that the chorizo was buried deep beneath the enormous mound of shredded iceberg lettuce in the middle because glittering streams of red, melted sausage grease were oozing out from underneath the afro like activator gel; so overactive that once crisply deep-fried tortilla, made soft again, can’t soak up anymore of the liquid pork fat. The crumbled chorizo was deliciously salty and s
picy, and certainly greasy, but don’t worry, that’s what the iceberg is for. Lettuce reverses the physiological effects of chorizo on the body :) Besides, I won’t be due for another visit to Casa for at least three months.

Casa Escobar
2500 Wilshire Blvd (@ 25th Street)
Santa Monica, CA 90403
310.828.1315

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mel CH August 8, 2005 at 9:21 pm

Not to mention they have killer margaritas. Killer.

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2 duckduckgoose August 8, 2005 at 9:46 pm

I was really into their margaritas which were freshly made w/ just lime juice and no mix along with the spinach enchiladas. Then I decided to have a blind date meet me there and they were closed for a rat infestation. That was embarassing. I haven’t been able to stomach going back since (although I tried the Marina Del Rey location for happy hour and it wasn’t as good).

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3 sarah August 8, 2005 at 9:59 pm

rat infestation?!?! are you serious? that is n-a-s-t-y, disgusting. ok, and did they actually post that on the door when you showed up there?!?! why on earth would they actually post WHY they were shut down? LOL! how horrible!

ok, now i may have to re-think my next visit.

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4 Cybele August 9, 2005 at 12:58 am

I always think you can tell a lot about a place by the guacamole.

And the margaritas.

Of course you can tell even more about a place by its rats.

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5 Sarah J. Gim May 29, 2009 at 10:57 am

LOL! went back there recently and no rats…

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6 Kirk August 9, 2005 at 5:41 am

And you thought that was “liquid pork fat”, huh???? hehehehehe I noticed the lack of cheese in the pic’s – wonder where that went? :)

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7 Reid August 9, 2005 at 9:44 am

Hi Sarah,

You are so lucky to have a nice selection of Mexican restaurants there. I guess that’s like us and our Asian food restaurants.

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8 sarah August 9, 2005 at 3:52 pm

oh, rats! lol!

kirk: well, since there’s not much cheese, i guess it’s pretty healthy! ;)

and

reid: i can’t even imagine how amazing the sushi must be there, as well. *sigh*

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9 mipmup. August 9, 2005 at 5:41 pm

does the casa escobar in marina del rey have the same owners? we were just wondering about it as we passed by the other night. weird.

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10 danielle August 9, 2005 at 10:46 pm

I actually picked my current apartment because it’s midway between the Daily Pint (on Pico and about 23rd) and Casa Escobar. I usually go there for the drinks and the lounge singer on the weekends, though. Do they still have one? I haven’t been in ages…

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11 BBQ Junkie August 10, 2005 at 11:33 pm

I had my first Casa Escobar experience about a month ago. The food was so-so. The restaurant was very dark, no windows. I guess it was the perefect lighting to encourage drinking, which unfortunately I didn’t do. Maybe next time I will have to do a liquid lunch ;)

BTW, you mention taco truck, Simon of Low End Theory food blog has a great list of West Side Taco Trucks

http://lowendrestaurants.blogspot.com/2004/11/taco-trucks-of-westside.html

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12 Anonymous May 23, 2006 at 9:49 pm

Disfruté tanto en Casa Escobar !!!

Pasé allí momentos inolvidables !!

Soy de Argentina y el primer lugar al que iré en mi próximo viaje a USA , será sin duda Casa Escobar.

Un saludo desde Buenos Aires ….gente linda !!

Adriana Soler.

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