The Squeeze Inn – Roseville, California

Tried to amend my carnivorous habits
Made it nearly seventy days
Losin’ weight without speed, eatin’ sunflower seeds
Drinkin’ lots of carrot juice and soakin’ up rays

But at night I’d had these wonderful dreams
Some kind of sensuous treat
Not zucchini, fettucini or Bulgar wheat
But a big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat

Cheeseburger in paradise (paradise)
Heaven on earth with an onion slice (paradise)
Not too particular not too precise (paradise)
I’m just a cheeseburger in paradise

~Jimmy Buffett

The interior of the Squeeze Inn in Roseville, California

Just what is a cheeseburger in paradise?  In his top 40 song Cheeseburger in Paradise, Jimmy Buffett seems to infer that a cheeseburger in paradise can be any cheeseburger you consume after depriving yourself, or as he put it, “after trying to amend your carnivorous habits.”  There’s much truth in this.  Every dieter with whom I’ve spoken admits that what they dream about most after any period of deliciousness deprivation are cheeseburgers.  Cheeseburgers are, after all, America’s most popular, arguably most delicious, fast food offering.

In Buffett’s case, the cheeseburger in paradise was inspired by a boating excursion on the azure waters of the Caribbean.  While sustaining himself on peanut butter and canned foods, he fantasized about devouring a “piping hot cheeseburger.”  His fantasy cam true…sort of, when he landed in the British Virgin Islands where he found a restaurant offering American cheeseburgers.  Despite the specificity of his instructions to the waiter on how he wanted the burgers prepared, what he got was an overdone beef patty on a burned, toasted bun.  No matter. To Buffett, this was a cheeseburger in paradise.  It fulfilled his fantasy and “tasted like manna from heaven.”

Buffett likes his cheeseburgers “with lettuce and tomato, Heinz Fifty-Seven and French-fried potatoes.”  For New Mexicans, there is nothing as thoroughly soul-satisfying and utterly delicious as our ubiquitous green chile cheeseburger.  We have a fierce pride in that most simplistic, but explosive, flavor-blessed union of a thick, juicy beef patty grilled over an open flame or sizzled on a griddle then blanketed in cheese and topped with taste bud awakening, tongue tingling, olfactory arousing green chile.  To New Mexicans, it isn’t a cheeseburger in paradise without green chile.

The Squeeze Burger with Cheese: The famous 1/3 lb. 100% Beef Burger with all the fixins. Mayo, Mustard, Tomato, Lettuce, Pickles, Onions on a Sesame Seed Bun With a “Skirt” of Cheese (1/3 pound of cheese)

Americans have been adding cheese to their burgers since the mid-1920s though, as with the hamburger itself, culinary historians can’t seem to agree as to when the molten marriage of cheese and beef patty first happened.  Most credit Lionel Sternberger with having “invented” the cheeseburger while working as a fry cook at his father’s Pasadena, California sandwich shop.  Legend has it that Sternberger experimentally dropped a slab of American cheese on a sizzling hamburger.  The rest, as the proverbial “they” say, is history.

Though the “inventor” of the cheeseburger is much in dispute, there is absolutely no disputing its impact on the American culture.  Wall Street Journal writer Raymond Sokolove called the cheeseburger “America’s contribution to world cuisine.  Does it stand to reason, therefore, that the more cheese you add to a cheeseburger, the better and more delicious the end-product will be?  The Squeeze Inn in the Sacramento, California area seems to think so.

For many people in the Sacramento area, the Squeeze Inn offers the cheeseburger in paradise.  That’s been validated in their having voted it the “best burger” winner from 2007 through 2010.  The original Squeeze Inn, a Lilliputian burger joint has also been voted “best dive” in Sacramento five years running.  It’s called the Squeeze Inn because of the original restaurant’s size; you literally got squeezed in to get your food.  The original was so small –only twelve bars tools–that customers would line up literally around the block to get in its doors then wait for hours to eat.  It would have to be a cheeseburger in paradise to inspire such loyalty.

French fries

In 2009, Sacramento area resident and Food Network luminary Guy Fieri introduced The Squeeze Inn to the rest of the world on his Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives program.  The effusive Fieri also included the burger on the second book he wrote about his “Triple D” program.  In an episode of the Jay Leno Show, the host asked Fieri who serves the best hamburger in America.  Without hesitation, Fieri mentioned the Squeeze Inn in Sacramento.

What makes the Squeeze Inn’s “squeeze with cheese burger” unique and famous is the way it’s prepared.  It starts with a third-pound of 100-percent beef topped with mayo, mustard, tomato lettuce, pickles, cheese and onions served on a sesame seed bun, pretty traditional stuff.  A crispy “cheese skirt” is created after the beef patty is cooked on a flat top grill.  The skirt is created when an entire third-pound of cheese and the top bun are placed atop the patty.  The cook then throws a handful of ice chips on the flat top and covers the burger with a “hood” to create a steamy effect.  The result is a rectangular, crispy cheese skirt which extends about an inch beyond the burger on all sides.

That’s one-third pound of beef and one-third pound of cheese plus high-quality, fresh ingredients.  What’s not to like?  As Fieri might say, “it’s a California thing.”  While I found the burger interesting and unique, it wasn’t necessarily memorable by virtue of its flavor profile alone.  Though I cherish cheese, the fried cheese skirt itself can be a bit off-putting–both texturally and in terms of flavor.  Sure, it’s crispy and maybe by itself would be a nice snack, but it makes the burger difficult to eat (the cheese becomes a bit “rubbery”) and actually detracts from the flavor of the beef.  This is one marriage of beef and cheese I didn’t like much, but there are thousands of Sacramento area residents who say otherwise.

Nick Sardo, Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver and Jesse Housholder enjoy the Squeeze Inn’s cheesy burger

The Squeeze Inn prepares everything to order and to your exacting specifications.  In addition to their famous “squeeze with cheese,” the restaurant serves other menu items including tacos, hot dogs, sandwiches and more.  Even a vegetarian burger is available for non-carnivores.

The Squeeze Inn is certainly not everybody’s version of a cheeseburger in paradise, but from an experiential point of view, it’s one of those legendary restaurants you’ve got to try just to say you’ve  been there and done that.  You may even like it more than I did….and who knows, had the squeeze with cheese had some New Mexico green chile, it might have been closer to being a cheeseburger in paradise for me, too.

The Squeeze Inn
106 North Sunrise Avenue
Roseville, California
(916) 783-2874
LATEST VISIT: 14 June 2010
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: 17
COST: $$
BEST BET: French Fries, Squeeze with Cheese

Chuck’s Restaurant – Placerville, California

Chuck's Restaurant in Placerville, California

In 2009, James Beard Award-winning food journalists Jane and Michael Stern published a terrific tome entitled 500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late. Despite the ominous (some might say fatalistic) name, the book is actually a celebration of the best dishes that are unique to this country. The Sterns, who have been focusing on quirky All-American food haunts since 1977, describe in delicious detail, the best dishes proffered at roadside stands, cafes, street carts throughout the fruited plain.  It’s a marvelous tribute to those dishes that are uniquely American.

As encompassing as the book is, it could not possibly have included every single culinary rarity and singularly distinctive dish.  Leave it to my friend Barbara Trembath to lead me to a uniquely American dish that the Sterns did not mention.  When she found out about my business trip to the Sacramento area, Barbara encouraged me to stray from the well-beaten, well-eaten paths to the local favorites and to drive nearly one-hundred miles east to experience culinary history.  She urged me to try what she described as potentially the “dodo bird of food,” a “rare American original that’s in danger of becoming extinct.”  She had me at “hello.”

The quintessential American diner

The dish Barbara recommended I try has a name as quirky as its composition.  It’s called the “Hangtown Fry” and it has nothing to do with French fries and other than bacon has no other fried ingredients. In fact, it’s really an omelet engorged with nothing but bacon and oysters, a weird barnyard meets seafood combination that goes surprisingly well together.   I drove directly from the Sacramento airport to Placerville in time to beat the dinner rush for…an omelet. Barbara reminded me that “yeah, it’s breakfast food, but like any omelet is great any time of day.”

History records that during the California Gold Rush, the boomtown of Placerville was given the sobriquet “Hangtown” in recognition of its frontier justice inspired “necktie parties.”  A grimy prospector who had struck it rich in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada came in to town, staggered into the first restaurant he found and ordered the most expensive thing on the menu.  At that day and age, eggs cost a dollar each, bacon had to be shipped from the East Coast and oysters were a rare delicacy.  The three were combined into a California specialty that has survived more than a century and a half.  Nowadays, the Tadich Grill in San Francisco is more renown for the Hangtown Fry than any restaurant in Placerville, but it was in Hangtown that this dish originated so one might figure that no one does it better than the original.

The Hangtown Fry with fried potatoes and sourdough toast

The restaurant Barbara recommended is called Chuck’s Restaurant, a rather ordinary name for an eatery specializing in an American culinary rarity.  In every way possible, it has the appearance and charm of a 1950s or 1960s diner, replete with leatherette booths, counter stools, faux wood paneling and a menu with a staggering number of entrees, including as many or more Chinese entrees than American entrees.  The Hangtown Fry does not occupy a special place in the menu, nothing that calls attention to this famous dish.  In fact, I had to ask my waitress where it was on the menu.

The Hangtown Fry is an exceptional omelet with almost as many oysters and as much cut bacon on top of the folded eggs as there were inside.  Both the bacon and the oysters are somewhat salty, a perfect foil for the eggs. Frankly, the only thing which could possibly have improved this dish would have been the use of fresh oysters instead of canned smoked oysters.  The Hangtown Fry is accompanied by fried potatoes and sourdough toast, both good but hardly necessary considering the main entree was the dodo bird of food.

Chuck’s Restaurant
1318 Broadway
Placerville, California
(530) 622-2858
LATEST VISIT: 13 June 2010
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: 20
COST: $$
BEST BET: Hangtown Fry

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RedBrick Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The Red Brick Pizza for Fire-Roasted Gourmet Pizza

The American culture of instant gratification may be precipitating the decline of the independent neighborhood pizzeria. In recent years, this traditional bastion of pizza preparation has been largely supplanted by ubiquitous pizza delivery companies with their gratuitous gimmicks, copious coupons and promises of breakneck deliveries.

Pizzaiolis, the artisans who deftly toss and craft prandial perfection in the form of circular, precisely seasoned and superbly sauced oven-baked flat-bread have been unseated by pimply teenagers slathering ketchup on cardboard spheres then setting land speed records to ensure the day’s special of five for the price of one reaches its intended destination within seconds after an order is placed.

The American consumer seemingly prefers quick and cheap pizza of inferior quality and taste that he or she can devour in front of the 500-channel living room altar to the greater expenditure of time spent with family or friends at a pizzeria in which sensory titillation includes the imbibing of incomparable aromas you just can’t get by opening a cardboard box.

The bustling interior at Red Brick Pizza

RedBrick Pizza purports to address the gap between the delivery-oriented market and the more traditional sit-down restaurant approach with a revolutionary “fast casual” concept, ostensibly giving the American consumer a product far superior to delivery pizza without the “inordinately long wait times” at traditional pizzerias.

Founded in 2000, this burgeoning franchise has ambitions of being one of the largest pizza chains in the world with an eye toward 12,000 units and possible expansion into Europe and Asia. In 2004, RedBrick Pizza’s 750 percent growth helped it earn a spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s list of top 50 new franchises. Albuquerque’s first two RedBrick franchises opened in the fall of 2005, one in the Sedona Row shopping center and a second one in the Brick Light District by UNM.

The centerpiece of each franchise appears to be a 1,000-degree brick oven capable of turning out three-minute, fire-roasted gourmet pizzas. The menu promises fresh, all-natural dough and cheeses and premium gourmet ingredients with no MSG, fillers or substitutes. You can craft your own pie by selecting your favorites from an extensive list of ingredients or you can opt for one of the menu’s fifteen gourmet pizzas. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, RedBrick offers several fresh tossed chopped salads, all of which can be had with fire-roasted croutons. Another fire-roasted specialty are Fhazani sandwiches crafted on the restaurant’s signature dough.

Two flavors of wonderful Italian Gelato: pumpkin pie and pistachio

Many of the tables have their own small flat-screen televisions while several overhead large-screen TVs are strategically positioned for maximum viewability. The restaurant’s artificially friendly staff (called “pizza ambassadors” in the company’s lexicon) make frequent visits to your table to ensure all is well with your RedBrick experience.

True to the menu’s promise, our pizzas did have a crisp, golden brown crust, but truth be told, they weren’t delivered much more quickly than at some of the city’s traditional pizzerias, many of which serve a much better product.

  • A “Greek” pizza with an olive oil and garlic sauce base featured mozzarella, ham, red onions, whole Kalamata olives, Feta cheese and Pepperonici. The Feta was barely discernable while the Pepperonici was wonderfully tangy and somewhat piquant. Our favorite ingredient was the ham (which looked like what some pizzerias call Canadian bacon).
  • The most prominent tastes on a roasted garlic chicken pizza (white sauce, mozzarella, garlic, chicken, mushrooms, onions, red peppers, bacon, garlic, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese) were neither the roasted garlic (a chintzy portion) or the chicken, but the Parmesan cheese. This pizza did little to distinguish itself as a memorable pie.

The highlight of our meal was the restaurant’s fresh Italian Gelato dessert. More than just “Italian ice cream,” true Gelato is much more dense, icy and usually more flavorful than American ice cream. RedBrick’s version was wonderfully gritty and extremely flavorful, exceeding other Gelato we’ve found in the Albuquerque area. It’s worth a trip to RedBrick just for this cold confection. It’s also worth a trip to your favorite neighborhood pizzeria for a better pizza.

RedBrick Pizza
8101 San Pedro, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico

1st VISIT: 17 December 2005
LATEST VISIT: 12 June 2010
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 15
COST: $$
BEST BET: Gelato

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La Boca – Santa Fe, New Mexico

La Boca in Santa Fe

La Boca in Santa Fe

In a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, the “show about nothing,” George Costanza declared food and sex to be his two passions, reasoning that “it’s only natural to combine them.”  Jerry’s retort, “Natural?  Sex is about love between a man and a woman, not a man and a sandwich.”

George Costanza may actually have gotten it right!  The mouth is actually considered an erogenous zone, an area of the body with heightened sensitivity, the stimulation of which may result in a sexual response.

While most people don’t get sexually stimulated by eating, the mouth does host very sensitive taste receptors, including 10,000 taste buds on the tongue.  Perhaps that’s why so many people derive so much pleasure from the act of eating.

Gino brings a bocadillo to our table

Gino brings a bocadillo to our table

It may have been with this realization that chef and proprietor James Campbell Caruso named his restaurant venture “La Boca,” which translates from Spanish to “the mouth.”  La Boca launched in the summer of 2006.

Formerly executive chef at El Farol, Caruso is renown for melding Spanish and Mediterranean cuisines to create a unique cuisine that’s both traditional and contemporary.  It’s also extraordinary in its ability to tantalize the mouth with inimitable taste sensations.

La Boca specializes in tapas, the name for a wide variety of appetizers in Spanish cuisine.  Spaniards eat tapas as a cocktail between meals.  Dinner is usually served between 8PM and 10PM and lunch between 2AM and 3AM.  Having been raised in the Basque region (between the French and Spanish border), Caruso certainly understands the culture and significance of tapas.

Canelones with lump crab, scallop and Manchego cream

Canelones with lump crab, scallop and Manchego cream

Tapas restaurants have hit the United Kingdom and the United States by storm, but unlike in Spain, tapas may constitute a meal in and of themselves.  At Spanish restaurants, diners usually order many different small tapas, combining them for a full meal.

Since launching, La Boca has received extensive critical acclaim, including rave reviews from one of the most beautiful mouths in the world (with more teeth than an Osmond)–that of Giada Delaurentis, the pulchritudinous Food Network luminary.  Delaurentis visited Santa Fe in November, 2006 for the taping of her television series Giada’s Weekend Getaway.

Giada explained that though reservations are sometimes hard to come by, you can usually find a seat at the bar where the chef himself will craft a tapa to suit your taste.  A table can more easily be found during lunch hour on Saturday, especially if you’re there when the restaurant opens.

Cola: Caramelized Onions, Figs, Cabrales, Balsamic Reduction

Cola: Caramelized Onions, Figs, Cabrales (a Spanish cheese), Balsamic Reduction

A word of warning about the tables, however–they’re small…very small.  You’ll wonder how such tiny tables can accommodate the cavalcade of small plates destined your way.  Fortunately, the kitchen prepares each tapa to order and staggers their delivery so you aren’t too uncomfortably cramped in trying to make room.

Insofar as ambience, it might best be described as minimalist.  A sole framed painting of a restaurant called “La Boca Linda” hangs by the entrance.  That seems to constitute the restaurant’s non-edible art. The floors are red brick.  A black board over the bar lists the specials of the day.

During our inaugural visit, two tin buckets were suspended from the ceiling beams, but they weren’t there for esthetics; it turns out they’re functional.  The roof had a small leak exacerbated by the uncommonly wet winter.

Roasted Gemini Farms Beets with Spanish Goat Cheese

Roasted Gemini Farms Beets with Spanish Goat Cheese

Spanish and Mediterranean influences are apparent on the tapas menu which features twenty or so tapas.  It will be a challenge to narrow your choices to the six or so that constitute a hardy meal, but one that won’t leave you uncomfortably full.  In the next few paragraphs, I’ll attempt to describe the tapas of which we’ve partaken during our visits.  Please bear in mind that the menu changes frequently and some, perhaps many, of these tapas may not be available when you visit.

You might want to take Giada’s cue and order the grilled asparagus with black olive salsa and Regianno (a hard, granular parmesan cheese).  Lightly grilled, the asparagus are crisp to the bite, but tender and delicious.  The cheese and black olive salsa remove any trace of bitterness sometimes found in this folic acid and vitamin enriched vegetable.

Giada didn’t try the chorizo de la rioja simmered in sherry with golden raisins, but we did and boy, are we ever happy about that.  The chorizo is sliced diagonally and is seasoned with Spanish paprika which is said to give Spanish chorizo its characteristic flavor.  The sherry reduction and sweet golden raisins added a sweet taste to the smokiness of an excellent chorizo.

Bruscetta with Mushrooms, Fried Egg, Truffle Oil and Reggianito (an Argentinian cheese)

Bruscetta with Mushrooms, Fried Egg, Truffle Oil and Reggianito (an Argentinian cheese)

Perhaps even better than the chorizo is a pork fennel sausage with pomegranate and piment d’espelette (a long red pepper cultivated in the Basque region of France which imbues dishes with a mildly piquant, fruity finish).  Wow!   This tapa has it all–the tart sweetness of the pomegranate, the agreeably aromatic fragrance of fennel and the coarse savory deliciousness of the sausage.

In Spain, the fried egg is so beloved that almost every Spanish cookbook includes at least one recipe for fried eggs.  Lest you think frying an egg is so basic no recipe should be required, pick up a Spanish cookbook or two and you might be amazed at how the author rhapsodizes about el huevo frito and the many ways in which it can be prepared.

La Boca offers a farm-fresh fried egg atop a Reggianito (a very hard, granular, cows’ milk cheese from Argentina) and mushroom topped Bruschetta brushed with truffle oil.  It’s several orders of magnitude better than just about any fried egg you’ll ever have with a coalescence of flavors that might make you swoon.  The egg is prepared over-easy with just a hint of crispiness around the edges.  When the yoke breaks and golden deliciousness mingles with the other ingredients, you’ll luxuriate in an ovum that outstrips any ther.

Tapas Trio: Hummus and Eggplant Purees with Mint-Feta Spread and Flatbread

Tapas Trio: Hummus and Eggplant Purees with Mint-Feta Spread and Flatbread

Another tapa which blends complementary, yet on the surface, seemingly disparate ingredient combinations is the grilled artichokes with Spanish goat cheese, orange and mint.  To say the artichokes are grilled to perfection is an understatement.  They are both crispy and tender.  The goat cheese is full-flavored with a heady aroma and mildly sharp taste.  The orange and mint flavoring isn’t especially prominent which allows other tastes to come forward.

In the past few years, hummus and flatbread have become so common as to be considered almost passé.  Just about every restaurant seems to have their own rendition and few, if any, come close to the time-honored, traditional hummus you might find at a Middle Eastern restaurant such as Yasmine’s Cafe in Albuquerque.  Most restaurants tweak the ingredients to create their own interpretation of what should be a smooth, creamy taste of chickpea heaven.  Most are poor imitations.

La Boca’s version of hummus is one of three delicious spreads offered in the Tapas Trio.  The other two are an eggplant puree and a mint-feta spread.  They are served with a thin pita-like flatbread grilled and served warm.  The hummus has a mild garlic kick with a hint of lemon.  It’s quite good, but the most attention and taste bud grabbing of the three is the mint-feta spread in which two very strong tastes complement one another to form a refreshing, yet pungent and salty-briny combination.  The attentive wait staff will replenish the flatbread when you run out–and you will run out.

Tortilla Espanola: Red Pepper, Parmesan, Manzanilla Olives

Tortilla Espanola: Red Pepper, Parmesan, Manzanilla Olives

Perhaps the very best of the tapas is a sole canelone filled with lump crab and scallops and topped with a Manchego cream sauce then cooked and served in a clay dish.  A thin pasta is engorged with sea-sweetened lump crab and scallops.  There couldn’t be a better topping than the creamy, rich Manchego cheese sauce which finds its genesis in LaMancha, the land of Don Quixote.  According to Geno, our affable and knowledgeable waiter, this tapa is the restaurant’s most popular. Giada, who knows a thing or two about canelone, called La Boca’s phenomenal.  At her first bite, she exclaimed “this should be illegal, it’s so good.”

The Tortilla Española is the most commonly served dish in Spain with many variations often served as a light dinner in Spanish homes.  Despite the name, this “tortilla” is nothing like the flour or corn tortillas served in so many restaurants in the Land of Enchantment.  Instead, the Tortilla Española, as served in Spain and at La Boca, is a Spanish omelet that bears little resemblance to American omelets.  In fact, it may resemble a quiche more than an American omelet.  La Boca’s version is a fluffy omelet with red peppers, parmesan cheese and manzanilla olives.  It’s an excellent and thoroughly delicious representation of one of Spain’s national dish.

The only item we weren’t completely enamored with is a bocadillo (little sandwiches on grilled rustic bread) constructed of tuna salad with piquillo peppers and capers.  The panini-style bread dominated the tuna and left the other ingredients undiscernable.  Its saving grace is a salad of fresh, delicious house greens.  Other sandwiches are also available.

From the dinner menu: Grilled Hangar Steak with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel and Cabrales Butter

From the dinner menu: Grilled Hangar Steak with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel and Cabrales Butter

One of the true stars on the dinner menu is a grilled hangar steak sliced into seven pieces and served with your choice of two unique sauces–a smoked sea salt caramel sauce and a sauce made of Cabrales (a pungent and full-bodied artisan Spanish cheese) butter.  Ask for both sauces, both of which are wholly antithetical in flavor.  The smoked sea salt caramel sauce is caramel sweet punctuated by a discernible saltiness.  The Cabrales butter has a strong blue cheese flavor with the creaminess of butter.  Both are excellent foils for one another.  The hangar steak is fantastic at medium rare with plenty of pink to show for it.

Another adventure in flavor is the Moroccan spiced grilled shrimp served with an avocado mojo verde similar to guacamole, but with a bit of piquancy.  The shrimp have a snap when you bite into them, signifying not only freshness, but optimum preparation.  The Moroccan spices give the shrimp a zesty, rich and flavorful flavor.

Having grown up in Northern New Mexico meant an early realization as to where meat comes from.  It meant participating in matanzas, the slaughter of an animal, usually as part of a family celebration.  Matanzas can be a traumatizing event for a child, particularly if the intended guest of honor on the plate was treated as a pet.  I always gave thanks for and to the pigs, sheep and cattle which gave the ultimate unwilling sacrifice so we could eat.  Pangs of guilt still visit when I eat bacon, pork chops and especially morcillas.

Morcillas are blood sausages, made by bleeding a freshly slaughtered pig and collecting its warm blood  for  sausages.  You won’t find them at many restaurants or even family homes in New Mexico as family matanzas have largely been replaced by large supermarkets.  La Boca is one of a handful of restaurants in which the intensely flavored porcine treat  can be found.  Made with pork blood, garlic, chile and sundry ingredients, the morcillas are sliced diagonally into bite-sized pieces of eye-opening deliciousness.  Forget any preconceived notions you may have about blood sausage and try morcillas at La Boca.


Moroccan Spiced Grilled Shrimp with Avocado Mojo Verde

Moroccan Spiced Grilled Shrimp with Avocado Mojo Verde

Dessert tapas are on the roster at five dollars each or three for fourteen dollars.  The menu lists five desserts, but there are also daily specials.  You’ll have as hard a time selecting dessert as you’ll have picking main course tapas.  No matter what you select, you won’t be settling.

If you love strong semi-sweet, bitter chocolate, a good choice is the pot de crème, chocolate ganache infused with espresso beans.  The ganache has the consistency of soft frosting and the flavor of excellent dark chocolate.  You might not even taste the espresso beans though coffee aficionados might swear they make this dessert as wonderful as it is.

To broaden your dessert experience, try the Bocaditos Especiales, a specialty platter with PX (a liqueur from the Spanish region of Montilla) injected figs, cardamom-dat truffles, apricot-pistachio divinity nougat and pecan wedding cookies.  These bite-sized treats are decadent and delicious, flavor explosions in every bite.  Close your eyes as you bite into the PX injected figs and let the flavor of pure, heavenly deliciousness wash over you.

Bocaditos Especiales (Specialty platter with PX injected figs, cardamom-dat truffles, apricot-pistachio divinity nougat and pecan wedding cookies

Bocaditos Especiales (Specialty platter with PX injected figs, cardamom-dat truffles, apricot-pistachio divinity nougat and pecan wedding cookies

La Boca’s version of “happy hour” is offered Monday through Friday from 3 to 5PM when “tapas de la tarde” are offered at reduced prices.

La Boca’s menu changes periodically to keep things fresh and interesting.  As such, some of the tapas described above may not be available when you visit.  No matter!  The genius of chef James Campbell Caruso is such that there will be new and wonderful things with which to fall in love.  Your mouth will absolutely love La Boca.

La Boca
72 West Marcy Street
Santa Fe, NM
982-3433
Web Site
1st VISIT: 10 February 2007
LATEST VISIT: 8 June 2010
# OF VISITS: 3
RATING: 25
COST: $$$$
BEST BET: Pot De Crème, Pork Fennel Sausage, Canelones, Grilled Asparagus, Grilled Artichokes, Chorizo de La Roja, Bocaditos Especiales, Grilled Hangar Steak, Tortilla Espanola, Tapas Trio, Roasted Gemini Beets, Cola

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