Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Woodland Hills, CA - Poquito Mas

Poquito Mas. The name is one that's fun for me, a non Spanish-speaking individual, to say... and pretend that "si, hablo espanol". :)

So this isn't an 'authentic' Mexican place by any means; I'd compare it to your typical Baja Fresh. But on a whim, we decided to eat there, and it really hit the spot. Their motto: "We don't serve fast food. We serve fresh food as fast as we can".

This was one of the most fun, interactive meals I've ever had the pleasure of simulaneously giggling and noshing my way through, but that was the company. It's great when you can eat with your hands, getting intimate with your food.

We tried a little bit of everything, which made for a vivacious spectrum of foods.

We noticed a 'special' written up on the chalkboard: Mucho Mas Sopitos. For a $1-something each, these were appetizers with a burst of flavor. The pancake-like corn tortilla base was tenderly soft, the steak was well-marinated and juicy, and the flurry of lettuce and cheese on top added textural interest. It came with an enchilada-like sauce, which we kicked up a notch with some tobasco sauce. Mmmmmmmm~

Vegetables. Meat. How to get both, while getting the most variety possible? My companion and I soon found out (happily!) that we have pretty similar interests in Mexican food. One dinner plate (your typical combo), and one tostadas. ... Iceberg lettuce does count as a vegetable, right? I know, barely any nutritional value. I really chose the tostada salad because I'm addicted to the flaky, crisp shell container and less because it was our source of 'vegetables'.

At $7.25, the dinner plate offers your choice of chicken, steak, or carnitas (pork), and comes with salsa (of which you can get your own at the condiment bar), guacamole, rice, beans, and homemade corn or flour tortillas. We went for the flour tortillas, which seemed to be a bit lopsided just to prove that they were lovingly made by hand. I was pleased to find them to be a tad bit thicker than the store-bought ones, and we happily scooped a little bit of everything into them to make bulging burritos. Lovely, sauce-dripping things, we had much fun customizing each bite with our spread of salsas and hot sauce. The carnitas, I might add, was decent; well-seasoned and not fatty, yet tender. The rice and beans were pretty bland, and were improved once within their flour blanket.

This was your typical tostada salad, which meant huge, and piled with the usual suspects. We ordered a chicken tostada so that we could try all three types of meat. In hindsight, the beef was the best, so we'll know to get that the next time around. They were generous with the chicken breast, but it was over-cooked and lacked flavor (besides salt), and was again best eaten in messy mouthfuls of tostada 'nachos'.

With all the food we ordered, there wasn't enough room in our tummies for it all, so we left the tostada salad looking quite ravaged. We left contented and stuffed, and with smiles on our faces. This is one notch above a fast food restaurant and one notch below El Torito and Chevy's. For the convenience, cost ($6-8, for the most part), and variety/quality of food, it's worth a return visit.

Poquito Mas (chain)
21049 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills


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