This weekend I had the pleasure of revisiting the Oaxacan Kitchen not once but twice, due to a funny twist of fate. If you’ll remember, they are located Just off California Avenue at 2323 Birch Street in Palo Alto, California. you can reach them by phone at (650)321-8003. On Friday I found myself on California Avenue in Palo Alto just around lunchtime, and decided to stop in to see if I could unearth some new favorite dishes… this time not just gluten-free, but dairy-free as well.
One of the great things about my visit this time was that they had gotten in new menus that clearly marked the gluten-free items with a triangle. Menus like this make my heart go pitter-patter faster, because it takes away the guess work and makes my interrogation of the wait staff all that much easier. This time I just had to ask about dairy, and ask that they leave it out, which was a simple enough process but did result in some delay in getting our food.
I had a vegetarian tluyada, which their menu describes as a large corn tortilla, toasted until crunchy. Similar to a tostada. With black bean puree, salsa, guacamole avocado, tomato, and queso fresco.
In my case, I asked that they hold the queso fresco. It came out and was indeed a large tortilla, and very well toasted. A little too toasted, actually, as it ended up tasting burnt. The “guacamole avocado” was really just plain slices of avocado, so it ended up being a little bland for my taste. I’m sure the cheese adds something, and those who splurge on a non-veg topping might find it more flavorful as well.
My second dish was a Roast Butternut Squash Tamale filled with fresh Corn, Zucchini and Guajillo Salsa. It was labeled vegan, to my delight, taking away any question of dairy or non-veg ingredients. To be honest, I’m not huge on tamales unless they are bursting with cheese. They have a vegetarian, gluten-free tamale with goat cheese that I think might be more exciting. This tamale was nice (And safe, which I loved), but not all that exciting. Doh.
And finally, I ordered a vegetable taco, just because I had to have one of their powder soft tortillas.
Oddly enough, the least expensive item made me the happiest. They topped it with their scrumptious sauteed veggies that come as sides to their entrees- and there is some sweet veggie (or fruit???) that I just adore. It had zucchini, but I didn’t even mind- it was absolutely delicious. Next time I might just order three of them and skip the rest. I didn’t miss the cheese in this dish at all thanks to the delicious flavorings. And the tortilla was just as delicious as I remembered.
My father is visiting from out of town and had the CARNE ASADA A LA OAXAQUEñA, which is gluten-free but comes at a rather high price. It includes grilled skirt steak, poblano chili rajas, black beans, enchilada verde, fried plantains, and fresh tortillas. He liked some of the side dishes, I think, but wasn’t that wowed by it.
This Saturday I decided to take Kira to the sunnyvale farmer’s market. I hadn’t gone in a while and I wanted some fresh veggies. I had heard that the Oaxacan Kitchen had a stand with reasonably priced dishes from their restaurant, but thought it was in Palo Alto, not Sunnyvale. They seem to have extended their presence in local farmer’s markets though, and I was thrilled to see them at sunnyvale. THe girl in the stall told me everything there was gluten-free, which made me very happy.
On her recommendation I had vegetarian Enmoladas, a large tortilla with our Oaxacan mole negro, topped with queso fresco, sliced onions and parsley.
I asked for one with no cheese and got a big plate of delicious soft tortilla (which I watched their skilled chef make fresh on the spot) that was swimming in dark, rich mole and brightened with parsley and softened onion. If you like mole and you like their tortillas, and really, who could not love those puffy, delicious things, you will love this dish. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I wish I could have had the queso fresco which I’m sure adds a tart note that really completes the dish. Be warned, you may end up with black mole on your face and teeth… but oh, it is so worth it. I would order this again, definitely.
More recently on September 20th I went to the Palo Alto California Avenue Farmer’s Market and tried one of their breakfast special, a huevos memelas, described as a thick handmade soft corn tortilla, crispy on the bottom and then topped with black beans,mole negro, queso fresco, cabbage, guacamole, and salsa, topped with two poached eggs. I enjoyed the dish, even without dairy, but I prefer the thinner tortillas that puff up when they put them on the griddle rather than the thicker ones. The egg did add a nice richness to the dish that made up for the absence of dairy, though.
I was happy to find that I could order fresh tortillas to go as well, so I ordered 10 to take home for our dinner tonight. I can’t wait to bite into those powder soft, heavenly corn tortillas! At 50 cents per tortilla they aren’t exactly cheap but they sure are tastier than those excessively well preserved ones in the grocery store.
I’m thrilled that the Oaxacan Kitchen has a presence at my local farmer’s market, with lower prices and great selection, and I have a feeling I will be revisiting them many times in the coming weeks. And if only I could order a big stack of their tortillas to take home…because they are that good and have spoiled me for other tortillas, I’m afraid. And the best thing is- I’ve eaten with them three times now and have had no signs of glutening. While their kitchen isn’t 100% gluten-free, most dishes are, except for those that are deep fried, and it seems relatively free of contamination issues. I would recommend it to any Celiac, although of course you must eat at your own risk. The best thing? While I can’t have it since i am currently living dairy-free, the Chocolate experience with flourless chocolate cake, hot chocolate and chocolate ice cream is marked on the menu as gluten-free. So… feel free to indulge on my behalf and support this unique, Celiac friendly establishment!
My first review of the Oaxacan Kitchen in July 2009.
*Last Updated Sep 20, 2009