Memo’s Mexican Cuisine, Concord CA
Ten years strong, and why don’t more people know about this? We had heard of Memo’s, in fact at one point lived around the corner from it. We finally came because we craved Mexican food and our friend Allison had strongly urged us to try it out. Tonight we were in for many surprises, including a huge deal for some people with dietary concerns: with few exceptions, most of the items here are vegan and gluten free! Even more amazing is the fact that everything, and literally everything, is scratch-made and generally a la minute.
Memo’s is not a tequila bar, but the libations they serve are of quality. Zach likes pomegranate so he ordered the Mexican Rose Margarita, with tequila, fresh pomegranate, and Cointreau. It was sweet and crisp, using a high quality tequila with nearly zero aftertaste.
This cactus was a refreshing treat. If you’ve never had nopal cactus before, it’s something different but good. It is tender and slightly crisp like a pickle, and most of the flavor is from the marinade. With fresh nopales marinated in vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, then mixed with onions, tomatoes, olives, and cilantro, this is a salad ideal for a summer day. It is kind of a special item, so the menu does say availability may vary; try it if you can.
The items to choose from were not entirely typical, so Zach ordered a pork tamal(e), a chicken sope, and a pork gordita for his combo plate that also comes with beans and rice. The beans were fabulous – smooth in texture but rich in flavor, with various spices and a mildly spicy aftertaste, which we found out came from a habañero sauce. Another awesome thing is that avocado oil is mixed in after the cooking process, just before serving. Additionally, the beans are lard free; in fact, no lard is used in any cooking in this restaurant. The tamal/tamale had a tender and fluffy masa, which was loaded with flavorful pork. The mole sauce was completely smooth and rich in so many flavors, “it was an amazing experience” (Zach). The sope shell was crisp from grilling yet still giving and had great texture, and there were spices mixed into the masa as well, not just in the chicken. Layered on top were some of the fabulous refried beans, and the chicken was white meat and succulent, topped with fresh pico de gallo. The gordita had a shell similar to the sope but it was split and filled with rich, juicy pork, then sprinkled with a soft cheese that melted easily, and topped with the same pico. At each bite, he “was looking forward to the next.”
A traditional wedding dish in the state of Zacatecas, chicken pipian made August’s palate dance. Chicken breast is served in a sauce of blended pumpkin seed, nine chilies, and twelve herbs, with the same beans and rice on the side that Zach had. The pipian sauce was wonderfully spiced, but not spicy at all. It was almost sweet, but there were so many different flavors within it, each bite was a relish. Two tortillas went towards sopping up the pipian, but even on their own they are great; like everything else, they were scratch-made. If you’re looking for something really special that you probably won’t find anywhere else, you really ought to try this.
Except for the whipped cream, this cake is vegan! Even further, this goes so many steps beyond a regular chocolate cake. Into the most, decadent layers of cake, frosting, and glaze went three different 100% cocoa chocolates, nine chilies, honey, rosewater, rosebuds, thyme, and more. August may have found a new favorite desert, because this is so chocolatey it will satisfy your cravings for a while.
Founded, owned, and run by a proud yet humble father-daughter duo, they try to make you feel welcome and like a VIP. You will see both of them throughout the night – most likely they will bring your plates to you. If you’re looking for some excellent Mexican food to be catered for your work or an event, this is the place to call; if you’re looking for great Mexican food period, come on in.