“Did you see what arrived in the office mail?” I asked Stasha, holding a large box in my hands.
“What’s inside?” asked Stasha.
“Would you believe an empty bottle of Petron tequila?” I replied, removing the bottle from the box. “However, there’s a message inside the bottle.”
Stasha plucked the bottle from my hands and immediately removed the rolled-up piece of paper.
“It’s an invitation from Mi Casa restaurant to come and try their new menu items,” she said. “Very clever.”
“And very effective,” I added. “What do you say we go do a little Mexican food sampling?”
“I say ‘Olé’ to that!”
While driving to Mi Casa, I explained to Stasha (a Mi Casa newbie) that the restaurant has been an OC landmark for nearly 40 years, and is renowned for its generous portions. Many of the dishes have been on the menu since the beginning, so it’s always news when Mi Casa adds items.
Once seated at a booth, we perused Mi Casa’s lengthy regular menu and the Fall Entrée menu featuring four new items: Grilled Mahi Tacos, Chicken Tamale, Chile Relleno Puebla, and Shrimp Enchiladas.
General Manager Luis Nila came over and explained the concept behind the menu.
“Our fall menu reflects some healthier choices. We’ve added black beans, which is a very healthy choice over refried beans. Also the chicken tamale is very healthy and a good complement to our traditional tamales. The Chile Relleno is very healthy. We’re innovating day by day to see people’s reaction to new menu items. We also have a gluten-free menu.”
“Really? A gluten-free menu,” said Stasha surprised. “Is it popular?”
“Very popular,” replied Luis. “We do our very best to support our guests with special dietary needs. We’ve even created a fun cheat sheet for our staff to help them suggest menu options for our guests who are vegetarians, vegans, etc.”
“I understand you’re also known for your margaritas,” I said, perusing the beverage menu.
“Yes we are. We have a new drink called Partita Skinny that’s made with organic tequila, that’s very popular. Some of our more exotic drinks are a Passion Fruit margarita, and a Prickly Pear margarita.”
“The Cucumber Jalapeno margarita sounds fun,” I said.
“It has a nice kick to it,” said Luis. “Our Cadillac Margarita with St. Germain is also very popular. I’ll give you a minute to look over the menu.”
“Well, what do you think,” Stasha asked me.
“Everything sounds great!” I replied. “I think I’m going to have the Shrimp Enchiladas—with black beans, of course.”
“I can’t decide between the Grilled Mahi Tacos and the Chile Relleno,” lamented Stasha. “They both sound good.”
“I have a simple solution—let’s get one of each,” I suggested. “Whatever we don’t finish, we’ll take to go.”
“Done,” she replied.
After placing our order, Mi Casa Marketing Director Nathalie Bishop came over to say hello and fill us in on some of the history of Mi Casa.
“Mi Casa has been family owned and operated since 1972—by the same family. Ryan Moore is the present owner. His grandfather opened the restaurant, then Ryan’s dad took it over in 2004. Ryan purchased it last year. We’ve kept most of the traditional food items but have expanded the menu to include healthier options such as side salads. People are more health conscious now, so we have to adapt to that.”
“I think that’s very smart, especially since Mexican food is not known for being healthy,” noted Stasha.
“We’re also not a fine dining restaurant,” added Nathalie. “We serve good food and big portions. We have made a lot of changes—we remodeled the bar and updated the décor. We’re keeping our regular clientele but inviting new generations to dine here. In fact, many customers who came here as kids are now bringing their kids here.”
“I can see why,” I said, taking a few bites of my Shrimp Enchiladas. “This is amazing!”
“I’m blown away by the flavors,” agreed Stasha. “I’m not normally a big fan of Mexican food, but in this case, I’d say that Su Casa es Mi Casa!”