Steppin’ Out – Plaza Jalisco: Grill Mexican Restaurant

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had been driving by this new restaurant at 384 Placerville Drive (near Sears) for a couple of months, planning to put it on my list (I like to give them a chance to get things together). Then I received an email from Russ Salazar with a list of places he would like to try. Right at the top was this place, so we decided to meet there around 12:30 the next Thursday.

This is not the only restaurant in this group as there are two others, one in the Roseville area and one in Grass Valley. So, I figured, they must know what they are doing. And, I was right.
I anxiously arrived about 12:20 that day and was surprised that there were only a few customers in the restaurant. Russ arrived about 15 minutes late (He knew it was near Sears, but didn’t know the location of Sears). Strangely, by that time the restaurant had become about half full.

We walked through the door and the first thing I noticed was how very clean it was. Immediately we were graciously seated at one of the tables, the booths all being occupied by smiling diners who obviously knew the location of Sears and beat us there. But, that was okay, since we are both pretty big guys and booths are not always that comfortable.

Russ’ test for a Mexican restaurant is chile verde, while mine is a chile relleno, so I figured that would be what we ordered. But then Russ looked across the table at me and said, “What a fantastic menu.” He was right, it is a large menu with beautiful color pictures of their dishes.

As I looked for the chile relleno and chile verde, Russ said, “Look at this Molcajete, I think we need to order that.”

Now, this is a real Mexican dish. A large heated lava rock bowl or mortar (molcajete in Spanish) filled with grilled beef, chicken, shrimp, mild peppers and more in a delicious chorizo based sauce, and served with rice, beans and tortillas.

I said, “Why not,” but not realizing how big it would be, added chicken tortilla soup to our order. We asked for two plates to split the molcajete and small bowls so we could split the soup.

While we were enjoying the chips and salsa (really good chips) that they greeted us with just after we sat down, the tortilla soup arrived, and it was a big bowl of soup.
It was fantastic. Full of pieces of chicken in a delicious broth and lots of tender strips of tortilla. We probably would have fought over it and finished it, but then our server brought us the molcajete and commented, “I hope you guys are hungry, and don’t touch the bowl, it is hot.”

We slid the soup to the side (I ended up taking it home, adding some more tortilla strips to it and enjoying it reheated) and started on the molcajete, which was still simmering in its sauce because of the heated rock bowl.

We divided up the chicken breast, shrimp, beef (carne asada) and fished out some grilled peppers to try. Everything was delicious and the sauce was even richer than I expected.
I mentioned to Russ that they beef was a bit overcooked, the only fault of any kind I could find. He reminded me that carne asada is very thin and, although sometimes it appears over grilled, it still has good flavor.

We didn’t finish that dish either, and I took what was left home to try on some chicken for dinner (our server told us it would be excellent on eggs the next morning). Why I even though about having dinner after this feast is beyond me, but I did and the sauce really improved the chicken.

The beautiful menu at Plaza Jalisco includes many dishes, some of which I think are unique to them. It starts with a nice list of appetizers, then several salads, five kinds of enchiladas, five kinds of fajitas, the Molcajete then their a la carte items.

Next it lists “Burritos and More,” which is followed by what they call “Big Plates, ” and a nice kid’s menu.

Following that, the seafood list includes seven delicious looking shrimp dishes, followed by their combination meals, five vegetarian meals and, to finish off, quite a list of their favorites.

Beer, Mexican and soft drinks available to accompany your meal.

Everything is made from scratch using the most fresh and finest ingredients. This process gives their food the special and unique taste of home-made meals.

Plaza Jalisco is open for lunch from 11 until 2:30, and for dinner from 5 until 8:30 Monday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday the hours are from 11 until 8:30 and on Sunday from 11 until 8.

For more information call 530-303-3696. You can also check out their menu online at www.plazajaliscorestaurant.com.

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