Instead of stepping into the snare of a restaurant offering a limited menu at a poor value for Valentine’s Day, as so many people do, I took my Valentine to Bell to experience the colorful Mexican cuisine of La Casita Mexicana chef-owners Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu. The personable Jalisco natives have a knack for timing. They stayed up until 4 a.m., working to bridge the gap between the original restaurant space at La Tiendita Mexicana, a store specializing in the artwork, ingredients and candies of Mexico. As a result, the expanded LCM was bustling for Valentine’s Day, with Valle de Guadalupe wines flowing into goblets, and diners gobbling up several dishes, none more impressive than Chamorros de Res Adobados. Guajillo soaked beef shank arrived on the bone with a heart-shaped mound of carrot-studded rice, a piquant salsa of chile de arbol, lime and onion, and rich beans that our server said melded mashed red beans and chorizo. At first, it seemed like our shank was missing its marrow, but as we soon found out, the fatty jelly-like substance already blanketed the tender meat, and since guajillo paste coated and infused the marrow, the flavor was astounding.
Address: 4030 Gage Avenue, Bell, CA 90201, USA