Date night, foodie style.

Around 5pm one day last week, I checked my email and noticed that one of my readers had sent me a list of “hidden gems” to try. One of them was El Girasol, described as a fantastic Mexican place where they grill chickens in their parking lot on the weekends. Although it was a Wednesday, something about this made my stomach start to grumble for tacos and guacamole. I called Mr Foodie, and within 15 minutes we were on our way to the Huffman/East Lake neighborhood for an impromptu date night/urban food exploration adventure.

El Girasol isn’t much to look at from the outside – a large-ish building that houses the restaurant and a Mexican grocery store:

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When we walked in, we were greeted by a very nice young woman behind the supermarket counter who invited us to take a seat. We grabbed some menus. Sorry they’re a little blurry, I was trying not to be too obvious….

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Immediately I realized that while I could have some tacos and guacamole …… There were a few other menu items beckoning my attention.

I struck up a conversation with the young woman behind the grocery counter. I asked her if she could help guide our culinary decisions. Together, we opened the menu and began to make some decisions.

Let me cut right to the chase folks. Ceviche. As soon as
I saw it I asked her if it was good and she told is it was great-especially the mixed shrimp and octopus ceviche. Octopus ceviche? That seemed like a must eat.

There are only a handful of places in the Ham where I’ve had great ceviche. I’m sure I’ll get a chance to blog some day about the ceviche at Sabor Latino (Peruvian ceviche) or El Barrio (fancy Mexican ceviche). Both are excellent. But when it comes to authentic Mexican ceviche, if you know of a place better than El Girasol, let me know and I’ll meet you there.

Seriously, this ceviche was off the charts. Shrimp and octopus, marinated in citrus with tomatoes, hot and mild peppers, and tons of cilantro. The shrimp and octopus were both prepared perfectly-neither slimy at all (as they can be, especially in ceviche). Just perfect. We both loved it.

Mr Foodie was silent as he bent over the bowl, eating it slowly and methodically until it was gone. I’m sorry, did I forget to mention that you get an entire BOWL of ceviche, served with chips? Ok, I’ll stop talking and just show you the food porn:

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How about a close up. Isn’t that beautiful?

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Our friend told us that her favorite dish was a weekly special that actually wasn’t anywhere on the menu. A secret menu at a Mexican restaurant?? We had to try it. She told us it was “pollo en crema”, which pretty much says it all. She let us try a little and we literally licked the little tasting cup. Creamy and bright with a little kick, this was spectacular. The best was pulling the dark meat chicken off the bone and eating it together with the rice and beans in the tortilla. The beans were smoky, and the rice was buttery and delicious-perfect complements to the chicken:

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Next, the mole chicken. I have never had mole like this before. Deep, dark chocolate mole flavor. Spicy. Again, the rice and beans were a perfect complement. Amazing without the tortillas but even better in the tortillas.

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At this point, of course, we were beyond stuffed. We waived goodbye to our friend as we stumbled out. I was just thinking how nice it would be to take an after dinner walk when…. We passed a beautiful park! Unfortunately we didn’t slow down fast enough, so onto the highway we went. We actually turned around and headed back to find that what we had passed was no ordinary park. This was the beautiful East Lake park, which is just stunning at sunset. Here are a few pics from our walk. Next time-an El Girasol picnic in the park!

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El Girasol on Urbanspoon