By Elena Kadvany
Owner of Redwood City's La Casita Chilanga expands with new Mexico City restaurantUploaded: Aug 18, 2020
Jose Navarro, the owner of La Casita Chilanga in Redwood City, has opened a new restaurant inspired by Mexico City fare cooked by the women of his family.
La Cocina de la Abuela, which means "grandmother's kitchen" in Spanish, opened in early August at 314 Arguello St. in Redwood City.
Navarro said the new restaurant was inspired in part by his mother-in-law, who would often prepare extensive meals for him and his wife when they came home from working at the restaurant. She's now regularly making dishes at La Cocina de la Abuela. He's also drawing on recipes from his grandmother and mother, who owned restaurants in Mexico City.
Tacos los mamalones from La Cocina de la Abuela, newly opened in downtown Redwood City. Photo via Yelp.
La Cocina de la Abuela's specialty is tacos los mamalones, a large, handmade corn tortilla topped with cheese, sautéed potatoes, nopales (cactus), salsa and breaded steak. Navarro said his sister, who runs a street food stand in Mexico City, sells about 1,000 of these tacos every day.
There's also cochinita pibil, the Yucatan-style pork that Navarro marinates overnight with achiote and other spices and cooks in in banana leaves until it's so tender "you don't have to use utensils to cut it," Navarro said. He uses his mother's recipe, which she honed while living in Yucatan, he said. You can get cochinita pibil on tacos, topped with pickled red onions and habanero, or as a plate with rice, beans, pico de gallo and choriqueso (chorizo with melted cheese) or cactus salad.
The menu also includes other kinds of tacos, gorditas, aguachile, ceviche and guisados.
Navarro said everything is made fresh to order, including the corn tortillas.
He took over the Arguello Street space in December and said it was challenging to keep his other restaurants afloat while paying rent on an empty space. He's excited to be open but said downtown Redwood City is still quiet, with offices closed and fewer people going out to eat.
"But I hope it gets better," he said. "That's why I'm here and my mom-in-law, working together."
La Cocina de la Abuela is open for takeout and outdoor dining Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.