Mi Casa: Simply delicious

By Aaron Apple and Aaron Kayser

Mi Casa is located in the small plaza behind the Sehome Village shopping center, and due to the location and first impression walking through the door, one might expect the typical Mexican restaurant experience in a place located as far from Mexico as Washington state. However, this initial feeling quickly faded the moment we were handed our menus.  Along with the standard fare of burritos, tacos and enchiladas, the menu also features standout items like quesadillas de nopal (cactus quesadillas), shrimp and grits, chochoyotes (Mexican corn masa gnocchi), and chile poblano relleno with duck confit.

The brightly painted walls were decorated with an assortment of ornate crosses on one side and large Frida Kahlo portraits on another. The exposed kitchen behind the front counter opens the restaurant, almost transporting you from a south campus plaza to a taqueria in Mexico. It seems this is a family affair, with only a man and woman duo working the kitchen and serving. According to their website, the restaurant used to be located in Honolulu, Hawaii, where they earned much recognition.

We started off the evening splitting a pitcher of a favorite beer, the Stone IPA ($16). After intense internal debates while looking at the menu, Kayser had the Grilled Chicken Breast in Adobo ($12.95) and Apple had the pork carnitas ($12.95). This place is unique because many of the entrée items were not a rehashed version of the same dish, smothered in sauce and cheese. Just about everything on the menu sounded great, especially all of the specials they were offering at the time.

Kayser’s meal consisted of boneless skinless chicken breast that was marinated in Mi Casa’s own adobo paste, and then fire roasted. This dish was served with served with Mexican rice, pinto beans with a sprinkle of cotija cheese, cabbage slaw, chunky guacamole, and perhaps the best part; fresh handmade corn tortillas. The chicken was tender, juicy and flavorful, courtesy of the adobo paste. Red and green salsas were also served on the side. The meal wasn’t too heavy, thanks to the absence of a pound of cheese and grease, found at many Mexican restaurants.

The pork carnitas were very similar to Kayser’s dish, except it came with slow-cooked pork in place of the chicken. The tender meat had almost crispy edges on the outside, providing a delightful texture in the tacos. Each dish came with three handmade corn tortillas that provided the perfect mode of transportation of the food from plate to mouth. When the dish was initially brought to the table, Apple worried it wouldn’t be enough to sufficiently fill him up. Luckily, he was wrong – it was more than enough food to satisfy his nearly insatiable hunger.

Mi Casa Restaurant and Cantina is located at 503 32nd St. in Bellingham. They are open Monday from 4 to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 9 p.m., and are closed Sunday. For more information, call (360) 933-4677 or visit www.micasamexicanfood.com. They also host multi-course dinner parties, including on Nov. 2 for Day of the Dead.