Nearly hidden by surrounding buildings but still in broad view on a busy street, Los Potros Restaurante Mexicano at 508 E 11 St. attracts a big crowd. After we ordered at the counter we learned that we also could have sat down at one of the (few remaining) tables to review menus with more details than a bulletin board. Had we not been at the counter, though, we wouldn’t have seen the horchata and jamaica beverage fountains. Zach’s younger brother Willie joined us for dinner and we shared a glass of each agua fresca among the three of us while we waited for our plates to be brought to our table. Since Willie hadn’t tried jamaica before and he enjoyed it, we took that as a good sign that our coming meal would be deliciosa.
Willie got the classic Mexican sandwich with steak. He reported that the tender beef didn’t pull out and was easy to bite through. The fresh quality bread was soft inside and crisp outside, from just the right amount of grilling. Creamy, fresh avocado and rich, light, and tangy crema balanced the jalapeños resulting in a fair amount of heat without being overwhelming. None of us knew from the bulletin board that this would come with fries, and even though they were prepared from a frozen state, Willie said they were “golden to perfection.”
We’re accustomed to seeing chimichangas as a side or appetizer. There are many theories to the origin of the stuffed and deep fried flour tortilla, but it is commonly agreed that it is a truly American dish, in the sense of embracing the Americas as a continental culture from Arizona to Sinaloa. With a nice amount of rice and beans, this pair as an entree was very filling. Crispy and fried yet absent of grease, the tender chicken inside was moist and savory. It was stewed with “tons of spices” like Mexican oregano and chile. Los Potros sends this from the kitchen usually with crema, cotija cheese, and guacamole, but Zach requested no guacamole; otherwise the picture would have been prettier.
Nearly a quarter of the menu is dedicated to mariscos (shellfish), so it would be a disservice not to try something from that section. August was not disappointed with her choice of shrimp cocktail; she initially asked for the one with shrimp and octopus, but then the camarero at the counter asked if she’d like the one that also had clams and abalone. Well now, who would say no to that? The peeled shrimp, massive octopus hunks, bed of clams, and abalone pieces were remarkably fresh and meaty, swimming in a chalice of tomato and lime juice with abundant vegetables. Onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cilantro were “fresh, fresh, fresh,” providing crunch and acidity to contrast the sinking bite of the seafood and the creamy avocado pieces.
We made it here just in time for dinner, as Los Potros opens at 8 am but closes at 8 pm. If we find ourselves in the area during the mañana, we might have to stop in to try breakfast. The happy patrons around us validated our opinion that this is a great place for made-to-order comida mexicana.