A Trip to the Homeland: Casablanca Grill & Bar

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Lineline in her Pino De Gallo debut. Not the last time you will see her, but probably last time in a bikini.

Ahh, Mexico. It’s good to be home where the tequila flows like wine and $10 gets you enough alcohol to last you a week (or an afternoon in Mase’s case). I come to you from the beautiful island of Cozumel, a small diver’s island near Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. I write this to you, readers of Pino De Gallo, while on vacation with my lady (who will be referred to as Lineline).  We have been enjoying the beach, cervezas and tequila, and most importantly, comida Mexicana. This means I am obligated to review a burrito (see: “Travel” clause of my Pino De Gallo contract).  Unfortunately, this will be my only official review of any burritos in Mexico, because I wanted to eat as many different things as possible, but I’ll be sure to mention a few of the other dishes.

After leaving our hotel one evening so that our maid who looked way too much like Consuela could clean our room, we walked over to the main plaza to try to decide on a place to eat. We walked around the plaza for a bit and were accosted by countless street salesmen and drivers yelling “taaax-iii?” out their windows before we decided on a place called Casablanca (not an homage to the 1942 film set in Africa). It was 2 for 1 margarita hour, so that certainly made Casablanca a bit more appealing and ultimately made our decision for us.

The restaurant itself was pretty cute. It had only outdoor seating (unless you wanted to drink at the bar), and also had a roofdeck. The menu was also pretty extensive, and obviously included just about every mexican dish you can think of (and some you probably wouldn’t. I was almost tempted to get the chimichanga…but this was a burrito mission).

This is neither white NOR a house...

The one problem I was having was actually locating the “Burritos” on the menu. I asked the waiter where they were, and he said they were called “alambres” on the menu. So, thats what I ordered.

On the menu, it was described as “beef with onions and green peppers.” Hmm…seemed pretty plain. It was also the only option. So like the Wisconsin Democrats, I didn’t really have a choice. It came with fresh guac and beans on the side. Also a bit disappointing that it wasn’t already inside.  “But whatever,” I thought, “I’ll just stick them into the burrito. No need to lose hope.” On top of that, we were quickly served home made tortilla chips with some deliciously home made pico de gallo, which I could always add on to the burrito as well.

As a sidenote, Lineline and I had already eaten at a number of places, and every place had extremely fresh and tasty guacamole, beans, and pico which is why I was not giving up hope….plus, it didn’t EVER cost extra. As promised, a few of the other meals we had included chicken tamales (probably one of my favorite meals of the week), enchiladas, fajitas, and quesadillas; all of which were extremely fresh and well made. This theme carried over to Casablanca, where not only the guacamole was crazy fresh, but so were all the other ingredients.

*Fork and knife recommended....but I suppose not required

However, when we were served our food, I was a bit surprised at what was placed in front of me. It looked like a set of 3 enchiladas with their open ends and red tomato sauce on the top. However, I was assured by the waiter that this was in fact the “alambre” and not a mistake by the chef. As stated, it was served with Guacamole and beans on the side (and a chip in each to use as a faux spoon) and were delicious as expected. But back to the “burrito(s).” I dug into these things with a fork and a knife since they were open ended and covered in sauce, which was a bit disappointing to me, but what ended up in my mouth was a pleasant surprise…..unlike that one game of “Who’s in my mouth?”

The beef was juicy and very well cooked, and the green peppers and onions seemed fresh and added a nice touch to the beef. The tortilla was particularly delicious, and I was told that they were made in-house, which added some extra authenticity. The sauce that it was topped with was also pretty good, but not nearly as good as the other ingredients. The only things I could really find wrong with this “burrito” was its lack of other amenities. There was no lettuce, no tomatoes, and no cheese(!). With all the other ingredients being so tasty, I could only bet that if these others were added we could have had a pretty superb burrito.

Either way, I did still enjoy my meal, as did Lineline. She gave me a taste of her delicious fish tacos, but seeing as she is a vegetarian she did not put any of my beef in her mouth (all puns intended).

In summation, Casablanca had deliciously authentic food/ingredients and was practically dirt cheap (about $5 per plate), although these were certainly different kinds of burritos than I was expecting, so I’ll give Casablanca a 3 of of 5 sombreros.

Casablanca Grill & Bar
Corner of 1st St. and 5th Ave.
Cozumel, Mexico

And just to make you jealous, here is what the beaches look like in Cozumel.

No, I did not steal this from the internets. (Photo Credit: Lineline)

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