In Paris in 2004, at dinner one night, a perplexed looking frenchman said to me (voice dripping with disdain) “I do not understand why Americans eat Mexican Food.” At that moment the duck roullaide he himself had prepared was melting on my tongue so delightfully it took some effort to keep my eyeballs from rolling back in my head. It was a perfect dish. Its understated flavors allowed the duck to shine without interference, seasoning standing on the sidelines to attend and support like the dresser of a great actor. I thought of the rough and tumble flavors of Tex Mex, greasy gobs of melted cheese, pots of Chili that overwhelmed the senses with eye watering SPICE.
I agreed with him. I mentally threw my countrymen under the bus. Philistines.
I wouldn’t agree anymore, however. Mexican restaurants are as focused on fresh ingredients and bright flavors as any other type of restaurant in California. Gone are the steaming heaps of melted cheese over refried beans. Taco trucks have come out of the hood and exerted their influence. Small soft tacos with interesting ingredients like duck, tongue and goat abound. Quesadillas are not just for kids anymore.
Rumbo al Sur is the second restaurant from the people who brought you A’ Cote. A’cote was one of the first places to serve small plates and put thought into its cocktails. It is still delightful and well worth a visit.
Rumbo al Sur is in Glenview, a neighborhood that still looks like it did thirty years ago in some ways. Sure, there are several restaurants, but there is still a shoe repair and dry cleaner. It’s actually not too easy for me to get to, and if I hadn’t heard so much buzz about Rumbo, I would not have made the trek.
I’m glad I did.
Taco Tuesdays are a perfect time to go. Nine dollars for three tacos, five dollar Margaritas. Rumbo al Sur’s tacos are very good. I even like the raja version (no meat). One night we were able to get goat, which Frosty loved. (I struggle eating goat and rabbit since they have fuzzy noses I like to pet). They also make a very good Margarita and I am a purist!
Make a reservation, they do get busy!