There are so many things I wish Pittsburgh had…classy Mexican fare is one of them. Sure, there is a plethora of places serving up your enchiladas, burritos, and tacos-all foods that many Americans believe is all there is to Mexican cuisine. These are also the same places that feature the often cheesy Mexican decor-sombreros, big cacti statues, Jose Cuervo bottles of tequila all over the place. But when it comes to things like authenticity and classiness with Mexican food, Pittsburgh does not have it.
In researching places to eat in Atlanta, I came across Alma Cocina. Numerous people had told me that Atlanta’s dining scene in its downtown wasn’t much. Now after having been there I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that statement, especially since a restaurant as cool and “happening” as Alma exists.
Alma is part of the Fifth Group Restaurants (we would actually dine at another one of their restaurants for brunch which I will be reviewing in a separate post). Alma itself serves modern Mexican cuisine with some beloved Latin staples also making an appearance on the menu (a couple of different ceviche options for starters).
We had reservations for a Saturday night and the restaurant was busy the entire time we were there. Our waiter was terrific and attentive throughout our meal and also did a great job in rattling off all of that evening’s specials (there were a ton). In contrasts to Pittsburgh’s lack of classy Mexican establishments, the interior decor of Alma was just that. Very dark and sleek, with just minimalist hints of it being a Mexican/Latin American spot.
For starters D and I split the Chip and Salsa Tasting ($8) which featured fire roasted tomato, tomatillo-avocado, and salsa negra. It came with both plantain chips and tortilla chips. The one thing that I didn’t like about it was that the plantain chips were fiery…literally. They had been seasoned with some tear enducing spice. To me, not being a fan of the ultra hot stuff, I was somewhat disappointed that they couldn’t have just had plain tortilla and plantain chips since two of the salsas were hot.
For my entree I ordered the Carnitas Tacos ($14). They consisted of braised pork, guajillo chile sauce, roasted pineapple-habanero salsa, and corn tortillas. All taco entrees came with three tacos and rice and beans; I was almost entirely stuffed after the second one and unfortunately not having access to a fridge, couldn’t save it. I liked them a lot but the guajillo chile sauce made for an extremely messy time.
D went with a favorite of his, Roasted Chicken Mole Oaxaca ($19). Mole is of course the famous sauce in Mexican cooking and Oaxaca is the Mexican state where it is said to have originated. His meal came with mashed plantains, grilled green beans (these were tasty), and topped with sesame seeds. He said it was some of the best mole he ever had (and he’s had it IN Mexico, which says a lot).
For dessert we split the most boring thing on the dessert menu and yet probably one of the best culinary creations of all time-Churros ($8), featuring salted cajeta (a Mexican concoction of sweetened syrup made of sweetened caramelized milk) and ancho chocolate. So, so good.
The menu had so many other incredible things to choose from, I only wish Alma Cocina was much closer to Pittsburgh so that I could return more frequently.