La Piñata Restaurant is talked about a lot in Concord, and we didn’t realize they have a total of ten locations throughout the Bay Area. Today we learned why it’s popular: everything is fresh. If it wasn’t grilled or prepared right then-and-there, it was made in the morning. Our waiter César was very proud speaking of the quality and freshness here, and it’s justified.
August ordered an entree that was listed to come with standard Mexican sides of beans, rice, picked carrots, and tortillas. The beans are refried, unless you request black or pinto – it’s nice that they offer three styles of beans. Not listed as a side, though, was a green salad. She was a little surprised when César asked her what dressing for her salad (blue, of course), and Zach was impressed by the variety of greens when it came. There were not too many croutons since they also added sunflower seeds, which added a pleasant crunch and nuttiness.
Then came this huge platter. We wondered what would happen if two people ordered plates this big, side by side. Another surprise not on the menu was the well done grilled green peppers and onions laying over the steak. Bistec al café (a good choice, according to César) is thinly sliced top sirloin, marinated in 100% blue agave tequila, and grilled with chipotle and ground coffee. The char is good and the flavor is curiously dark with nice spices, but it’s not particularly spicy. This is definitely one of their specialties. Another deep flavor is the mole over a cheese enchilada. The mole sauce is rich with chilies, nutty and robust from the chocolate, with a smooth texture. Next time August might order a second mole enchilada.
Okay, so burritos technically aren’t Mexican food, we know that. But they have become equated with “Mexican cuisine” due to the melding of our cultures. Zach was not prepared for this super to be as super as it was. It was big. Topped with classic red enchilada sauce, lettuce, and cotija cheese, he appreciated that the guacamole and sour cream were on the side to be dipped into at will instead of on top of the burrito and melting prematurely from the heat. Rice and beans were wrapped up inside with chicken – of which he had two choices, grilled or stewed (he went with grilled). Pico de gallo salsa is something Zach doesn’t usually like, but here it’s made fresh daily and he enjoyed it: the vegetables were still crisp, the tomatoes hadn’t broken down, and the cilantro was strong in flavor. There was a nice ratio of meat to beans to rice, and it helped that the burrito was rolled properly. Zach has worked at a taquería before, but he says that “the red enchilada sauce was one of the best I’ve had, if not the best.”
We didn’t see a need to take a picture of the chips and salsa that were brought to us first, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t good. Like we said earlier, everything is fresh, and that’s including the chips and salsa. All the staff here is super friendly and they work well as a team supporting each other. The decor is visually appealing, and don’t forget that they’re also known for being a tequila bar – it’s incredible how many high quality bottles they have on display. Zach’s looking forward to going some night to try a margarita.