My Lunch at Mission Cantina

March 29, 2014

How can you resist a restaurant that sends out a plate like this? There's a lighthearted feeling about this place, as if it's an experiment we're all in together; you're invited to not take it too seriously.  If you think of Mission Cantina as an eating adventure, you'll have a wonderful time.

I loved these togarichi chicharrones, thickly slicked with pimento cheese. The crisp little frisks of fried pork skin – all crackle and crunch – are spread with cheese,  sprinkled with Japanese chile powder and a splash of Sriracha. Explosively neon – and utterly lovable.

A tostada of raw scallops and veal hearts, two silken textures sliding together in the most surprising manner.  Dressed in a pungent little red rice vinegar dressing, alive with olives and fried capers.  More please!


Chicken liver tostada with crunchy salmon skin and pickled chile morita.  This is an exercise in bitterness, the flavors challenging you at every bite.  The liver is truly livery, the salmon skin the essence of fish, the chile a bitterness that lingers.  Francis loved it; I could not take more than a single bite.


Charred carrots and spring onions with crisped seaweed, butter and citron. An exploration of the dark heart of the carrot, the intensely smoky scent rising up to waft across the table.  If carrots are the new kale – and they are – this is one of the most enticing examples I’ve seen. I don't think I ever want to eat another carrot that isn't paired with seaweed; I loved the way the flavors danced around each other. 


Chicken wings with mole spice, vinegar, creme fraiche and celery. Buffalo by way of Oaxaca.  What’s not to like?


Cumin lamb and lard-braised brisket tacos.  A splash of lime. Some pickled onion.  Gone in a few bites. Delicious!

Tacos of shrimp and crisped beef tripe. This tripe was not so much crispy as chewy.  I chewed. And chewed. And chewed. Nice idea, but this one needs some work.

Afterward we crossed the street to an almost unbearably hip coffee shop. Stark. Quiet. At each little table solo drinkers sat plugged into their computers, earbuds in, fingers tapping.  I could hardly believe the place was named Whynot.





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