in yet another post in a never ending effort for me to write a non-food blog, i bring another food post.
one of the joys of going back to california is the huge variety of food from all over the world available. authentic food.
but sometimes, sometimes, you are just craving some dumbed-down american version of that nation’s cuisine. me? i love cheesy, big plated mexican food – the type you get from chevy’s or el torito or similar family style tex-mex places.
the week after new year’s, i was in berkeley with my cousin and her husband to watch my university take on the stanford university cardinal in a game of basketball. after a super satisfying beatdown, we worked up an appetite. i had mentioned i wanted mexican food – actually i wanted a burrito – but my cousin was horrified when i said that i had never heard of juan’s, which has apprently been around forever.
so celia and joe’s explained juan’s as what a restaurant like chevy’s aspired to be. so, i readily agreed to the divergence away from burritos and we headed to juan’s.
first thing – it was crowded, which is a great sign. the faux-wood paneling and random decorations dating from the 70s and formica tables were reminiscent of the mexican food places i ate in growing up in la – where menus were in spanish first. and lots of sizzling plates – it spelled good things ahead.
i ordered the carnitas which is pork fried in lard (well, if done traditionally), my cousin got the enchiladas and my cousin in law got the taco plate.
i love mexican food, but sometimes, the presentation on tex mex food makes it look like a gigantic mess. here are my carnitas:
and the enchilada:
i’ll be honest. the carnitas were not a winner. they were expensive ($16 if i remember correctly), tough and stringy. and really, not great. but what was great was the atmosphere (loud and drunken), the chips (freshly fried flour AND corn tortilla chips with two types of salsa – a salsa roja – a cooked red salsa, and a pico de gallo – which is more raw tomatoes, onions and chilis. and of course, horchata, which is my favorite – it’s a drink made of ground rice and almonds.
horchata and TWO types of chips:
so yeah, juan’s place. great atmosphere, but only so-so follow through and expensive. but it’s apparently a berkeley institution.
941 Carleton Street
Berkeley, CA 94710-2636