Andrew Lujan, his wife and two sisters opened Cacao Mexicatessen near the Eagle Rock Trader Joe’s on July 31. “The name was created in the attempt to brand the deli with a representation of a indigenous Mexican product such as cacao,” says Lujan. “Mexican food is often stereotyped to be comprised of chimichangas, nachos, etc. I felt as though our name represents a history of Mexican food that is rich in tradition.”
Lujan’s sister Christy is the chef and developed a more ambitious menu than Andrew initially anticipated, including Rellenos ($13.75) stuffed with mushrooms, cheese and jalapeno; sun-dried tomato, goat cheese and squash blossom; and cod with capers. You’ll find Camarones Echipotlados ($14.25) – shrimp with chipotle, garlic and citrusl El Puerco Borracho ($13.50) – pork belly cooked with pork belly, pintoc, tequila, Modelo beer, chilies and spices; and weekend-only menudo. If you’re feeling like tacos (pictured) or a torta, Christy Lujan cooks those too.
Cacao’s coffee program includes lattes flavored with cajeta, organic agave nectar and vanilla from Mexico’s Papantla region. You’ll find bottomless cups of drip coffee, ice blended frappes and specialty drinks flavored like the Azteca Mocha Latte seasoned with cinnamon, almonds, chile de arbol and chamomile. If coffee isn’t your thing, Cacao’s got you covered. Order a cool agua fresca, either jamaica or orange-pineapple, if it’s in season.
If you want to grab and go, Cacao carries containers of Oaxacan mole: rojo, negro and Colorado. Salsa fresca (8 oz. for $2, 16 oz. for $3) is made from tomato, onion, jalapeno and lime. Salsa de Cruzita has more heat, with tomatillo, tomato, jalapeno, dried chile, garlic, lime, salt. Cacao also sells Mexican cheeses, including Grated Cotija (8 oz. for $1.50, 16 oz. from $4), Queso Fresco and Panela. 5 oz. bottles of Cacao hot sauce – habanero or chipotle – are on the tables and available for purchase.