My husband spent a good deal of his youth in Mexico City and has always claimed that his favorite meal is a Mexican meal. Not me. Until last week, I must admit that Mexican food had always been my least favorite option when choosing to eat ethnic. It always seemed too heavy, too cheesy, too beany, (and yes, too gassy!) So I was skeptical when my foodie friend (who got a tip from a ctbites reader) and I entered Los Molcajetes (211 Liberty Square) in South Norwalk for a lunch-time feast. The restaurant is located in a non-descript strip mall, just before the bridge that takes you to the Norwalk Aquarium. Nothing spectacular about that. The tables are Formica and the décor consists of enormous posters of Aztec warriors, gods, calendars, etc. Again, nothing spectacular. The menu is “muy grande,” which I also took as a warning sign. O me of little faith! We have been back three times this week.
“Los Molcajetes” means the Mortars (as in mortar and pestle) and to my delight, after we were seated, the waitress brought us two cast iron “molcajetes,” both brimming with salsa. The first was spicy and quite thin with dark color and deep flavor. The next was milder and filled with finely shredded cabbage. Both were delicious and served with HOME MADE tortilla chips which were out of this “mundo!” Wait now, thought I, maybe we’re on to something here. Griselda, the owner and chef (and previous owner of “El Agave” in Bridgeport) came to the table to ask us what we would like to try and, in true ctbites fashion, we ordered 3 apps and 6 entrees - for three people! (This site is going to make gluttons of us all!)
And then…they came. By far the most outstanding dish was the “Camarones Sarandeados” which I have been dreaming about ever since! Delectable shrimp, sautéed in an exquisite sauce of tomato, onion, “chile de arbol” and a special combination of mustard, mayo, garlic, butter and red wine, this dish was worthy of Chicomecoatl -the Aztec goddess of food! You simply MUST try it. These shrimp were served in a tinfoil bowl, surrounded by creamy black beans and a fresh garden salad (it aint pretty, but you can find the photo above). Again, this is the real “Macoy-ito.” Not a fancy joint, but an authentic South-of-the-Border eating experience.
We also ordered the “Camerones Diavolos” which were scrumptious - shrimp smothered in a dark, red tomato sauce with plenty of habaneros for our naive Fairfield County tongues. (“Agua, por favor!”) Our third entrée was the “Mocajete Mixto.” Again, a large bubbling mortar was brought to the table, overflowing with a carnivore’s dream-come-true! This soup-like stew (seen right) was packed with strips of chicken, beef, and shrimp and stocked with plenty of delectable vegetables. The Mixto is spiced to perfection without being spicy and is meant to be drizzled onto a soft flour tortilla (hechas a mano, of course!), rolled, and devoured. Our pleasure, entirely! Our Mexican friend ordered the “Camarones a la Espanola.” These were jumbo shrimp, stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, and broiled. Too much for my cholesterol-conscious brain to enjoy but, according to her, they were “fantastico!”
Griselda, our hostess, came back to the table to offer us a sample of the “especial” drink of the casa - una “Cantarito” -which consists of Squirt (grapefruit) soda, a squeeze of orange, and several shots of tequila served in an adorable clay canteen. And, although it was only noon, we agreed that it was definitely cocktail hour somewhere in the world and we would HAVE to oblige so as not to appear ungrateful. “Ay, Caramba!” The drink surely packed a punch and was the perfect accompaniment to our spectacular meal.
We thought we were stuffed to capacity but somehow made room for more of Griselda’s specialties. She offered her home-made rice pudding (served cold, and a little on the chunky side for my liking) and a very unusual Coconut Flan which was sweet, dense, and cake-like (unlike the more custardy flan that we were used to). All in all, this was a fiesta, and the three of us rolled out of the joint like stuffed puercos with a bill under $40!
But we’ll be back! “Los Molcajetes” is opened for breakfast every day and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Huevos Rancheros rock! But if you are going on Sunday, get there early because rumor has it that it is packed as the morning progresses. The restaurant is open from 7am to 10pm most nights (with an early closing of 2pm on Tuesdays only). Friday night is karaoke night and the place rocks until the early hours of the morning and the specialty drinks flow generously. And guess what, Fairfield County? “Los Molcajetes” delivers! Give them a call at (203)-831-9921 or, better yet, vamos!
Los Molcajetes 211 Liberty Square, Norwalk 203.831.9921
(Check back here if you need the address as you will not find it ANYWHERE else online....strange but true)