If you’re tired of the clogged dining scene in downtown Culver City, there are many other options just a few blocks away. A recent discovery, the colorful Casa Oaxaca is a hidden gem on Venice Blvd. serving authentic Oaxacan cuisine. Helmed by the charming Rogelio Martinez, the restaurant has been around for about four years.
Unlike many trendy restaurants in the area, Casa Oaxaca takes you back to simpler times, where authentic food, large portions, and a homey atmosphere take center stage.
Although they only have a beer and wine license, I was wowed by their wine margaritas, which I found to be more flavorful than the regular margaritas served at most restaurants. They go down easily, so watch out. It’s easy to go overboard.
Casa Oaxaca Beer and a wine margarita. Photo by Mary McGrath
If you’re not familiar with Oaxacan cuisine, commonplace is flavorful mole sauces, fresh herbs, dried chilies, quesillo and handmade corn tortillas. I found the food far more inventive than most Mexican places I’ve eaten, and I was quite surprised this place isn’t already packed. Prices are reasonable, with most of the entrees priced around $13, which includes salad and rice.
The food is creative, with the hospitality of Rogelio making you feel like a long-lost family member. In fact, it’s Rogelio’s expertise in the kitchen, which makes these dishes so memorable. Borrowing from his mother, Rogelio incorporated her recipes to make this place a special dining experience.
Casa Oaxaca Oaxacan Cuisine
One of the more memorable dishes was the Molcajete Oaxaqueno, dense with pork, chicken, chorizo, cactus, jalapeno chili and other ingredients. Parts of this dish have a bit of heat, but tamer palates won’t cringe.
On the lighter side was their Tacos de Jamaica, a refreshing vegetarian dish with hibiscus flowers sautéed in red wine. Most of these dishes are easy to share, giving diners a chance to sample from many items on the menu.
For ambitious eaters, there are even grasshoppers on the menu. They are quite small, so you won’t find them unless you explore a bit. They were a bit too spicy for me, although my dining companion chowed down on their zesty flavor. Insects are all the rage these days, as they are dense with protein and a staple in many countries worldwide.
The seafood dishes were also wonderful. I enjoyed the Camarones al Ajo, a succulent shrimp in garlic sauce, while my partner savored Camarones Flameados con Mezcal, with a tangy mango sauce.
Finally, save room for dessert! You can’t resist the Platanos Flameados con Mezcal, fried bananas cooked with mescal and orange juice.
9609 Venice Blvd.
Culver City, 90232
About Guest Blogger Mary McGrath:
Mary McGrath is the proud servant of two cats. Sparky is a spunky 20-year old Siamese. Holly, at age 14 is a beautiful Ragdoll. Mary’s work has been published in many publications including Newsweek, Good Housekeeping, The National Lampoon, and LA Times.
For more information: Mary McGrath Photography
Note: Common to the industry, this writer was hosted to this dinner. While it has not influenced this review, The Written Palette believes in full disclosure.