A Celebration of Corn, Beans and Chile: Mi Lindo Apatzingan

Mi Lindo Apatzingan in Rio Linda, CA

Rio Linda, situated north of Sacramento, is not known for its dining scene. However, after multiple reviews in the Sacramento Bee in 2014, it was time for Sacramento Epicureans to go exploring. Well off the beaten path, Taqueria Mi Lindo Apatzingan is a humble establishment located next to a laundromat, the poster child of the type of restaurants we love to feature.

Apatzingan is a city in the Tierra Caliente valley, in the west-central part of the beautiful Mexican state of Michoacán, and clearly the affection for the town runs deep among the Hermosillo family. Sister Chefs Veronica and Marisol Hermosillo, who used to cook for Lalos, partner with their cousin to turn out plate after plate of traditional Mexican fare.

After a warm welcome from the owners, Epicureans were treated to a brief history of Mexican cuisine stretching back centuries. Despite the introduction of new ingredients over the years, like beef, the backbone of the central Mexican diet remains corn, beans and chile. Indeed these ingredients were the foundation for our feast.

As diners arrived, they enjoyed heaping trays of fresh tortilla chips, outstanding fresh-prepared guacamole and a roasted pepper salsa served in a rock molcajete. The mild and cooling guacamole was a nice foil to the slow burn heat of the roasted pepper salsa. Aguas frescas, a traditional Mexican beverage of fresh fruit or hibiscus flowers blended with water and sugar, were served alongside the meal.

Fish tacos were served next and featured well seasoned chunks of white fish on corn tortillas, topped with a smoky white sauce seasoned with chipotle, tomatoes and lime wedges for garnish. These tacos alone would be well worth a return trip.

Next, Parrilladas or family style platters of Carne Asada (grilled beef), Pastor, (marinated pork simmered in spices and pineapple), Tripa (tripe), grilled onions and nopales (cactus paddles) were brought to the tables with freshly made, stone ground tortillas, fresh onions, cilantro, radish and smaller plates of pork carnitas. The carne asada was flavorful, the tripa and carnitas were crispy and delicious, while the pastor was a perfect blend of sweet and spice.

Probably to the astonishment of most diners, the staff of Mi Lindo Apatzingan then started to assemble and pass around platter sized plates containing the main courses of the meal. Platters included an entire Chile Relleno and a generous helping of Viste Rancheros, a Michoacan specialty.  Comfort food at its finest, Viste Rancheros features beef, introduced by Spanish colonists/missionaries,  stewed in tomato sauce with onion, peppers and potatoes.

During the introduction, diners learned that Chile Rellenos were invented to celebrate Mexican independence with red, green and white ingredients to reflect the Mexican flag. Diners were delighted with Mi Lindo Apatzingan’s version, Stuffed with a firm cheese, lightly battered, fried and topped with tomatoes and onions. These platters also featured fluffy rice, creamy beans and more flour and corn tortillas.

Finally, Epicureans were given the choice between Churros, crunchy tubes of fried dough doused liberally with cinnamon and sugar or Leche Flan, a firm milk based pudding/custard. To-go boxes were also available so no incredible morsel of food would go to waste. As a final special touch to our evening, our hosts at Mi Lindo Apatzingan served Epicureans regular Trina a candle in her Flan to celebrate her birthday.  iCumpleanos Feliz,Trina!

 

This blog post contains a restaurant recap for Sacramento Epicureans dining club. I dined for free in exchange for the photographs and review for the eNewsletter.

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