El Cabrito: The Son Strikes Back
Text by Nizrhane Abdallah | Photos by Ric Caliolio Jr
Mexican food, to me, is this cheerful, bold friend that tells you that life is good and colourful through and through. That said life should be embraced with warmth, and with excitement. And then, one day, I realised that I wanted some Mexican food that bides its own time.
Over at El Cabrito, real Mexican food is best enjoyed by biding your time to appreciate the bold flavours of meat, spices and chiles. To my surprise, El Cabrito is the brainchild of the family behind Mexicali and the beloved El Chupacabra on Polaris Street in Bel-Air.
We headed to Promenade in Greenhills to find out what El Cabrito really is.
Upon taking a table, I decided to order a soup. Once of their soups that I asked for is called Menudo Mexicano. It is a far cry from your usual Menudo: ‘Callos-style’ beef tripe, beef chunks, and chiles in a hot and spicy soup served with soft flour tortillas. The soup had me at first bite. What I did was I piled the meat and tripe pieces in a soft tortilla, topped it with onions, and squeezed it with a bit of calamansi – happy days. Best of all, it’s a Mexican hangover cure.
When Chef Mario arrived, he welcomed us and started serving us their best of the best. We kicked it off with their Cabrito, a street-style taco with spicy goat meat cooked in birria stew style. Birria is a stew made from dried chiles and contains goat meat, and is also another hangover cure. Personally, I love this taco from the very beginning because it is served in a soft taco (which is easier than a hard one) and it has goat in it. Goat meat gives all other tacos a run of their money because of its flavour. Even my husband loves it and will really come back for it.
Just as we were enjoying the Cabrito, another one arrived at the scene: the Carne Asada Burrito. We had the Mission-style one with Mexican rice. It’s chock-full of the best things you’ll find in a burrito: rice, spices, and meat. In this case, it’s grilled steak, which ups the burrito character by a notch.
The food just keeps flying out of the kitchen. Nachos Especiales arrived at the table and my husband and I are amazed at what was in front of us. To put it out there, it’s truly a party on a platter.
By far, this huge serving of nachos is the best I’ve seen in my life. Good thing is that this platter isn’t just eye candy. This surely packs a wallop, and if you’ve got friends over to share this with you, I’m pretty sure they’d be chuffed because every piece gets equal portions of meat, sauce, olives and chiles. No one is left unsatisfied, trust me. Here’s the nachos up close to get my point:
Next up is the Baja California Fish Tacos which is made with white fish fillet fried to perfection and is smothered with their secret sauce.
Here’s their take on cheese fondue, Queso Fundido. If you’re a cheese fan, you have to dig this:
Then we have the Sonora Dog. It’s a ‘dog that has game: bacon-wrapped and loaded with their secret sauce.
Here’s another stunner: The San Francisco-style Lean Pork Sisig with Eggs.
This sisig has a healthy side to it as it’s really cooked with lean pork. It’s a wonder that lean pork works best in sisig as it gives the dish another dimension without losing it’s ‘beer match’ label. Bring your sisig-loving friends over to try this one out. They’ll be amazed what lean meat can bring to the dish.
We also had Arroz a la Cubana, which is a breakfast-y kind of wonderful:
Also, do not forget your chilli-loving officemates and loved ones. Try El Cabrito’s signature Salsa Atomica with them! I’m not a chilli head myself, but I still appreciate the kick, and this Salsa Atomica didn’t disappoint. The heat it gives lingers even after an hour — that’s how potent it is. Always proceed with caution.
And then it was time for desserts. We were served two desserts off their menu and they look great at first glance. Their Chocolate Eclair Cake looks like a Nanaimo bar. This cake works perfectly as a finish to your meal as the sweetness is just right.
Here’s their Butterscotch Pie with a meringue on top. It looks lovely because the meringue crowns the pie nicely.
I am happy to say that El Cabrito offers drinks that are a refreshing addition to any meal. Enter horchata and agua fresca.
Horchata is a rice-based drink and is nutty in taste. I was amazed at how it tasted because it reminded me of maja blanca. Horchata, to me, is like kakanin in a glass.
I ordered agua fresca in mango flavour and it was as refreshing as horchata. Agua fresca is a fruit-based smoothie which is perfect during the summer.
I could not thank the team at El Cabrito enough for having us over at lunch time. Shout out goes to the waitstaff, the kitchen crew, and to Jay, Kim, and Chef Mario. It was a pleasure to sample the real Mexican deal! Will definitely come back!
PS: El Cabrito is currently offering Unli-tacos every Tuesday so come tag along with your friends!
2/F Promenade Greenhills
Greenhills, San Juan