Aaah, but then again, there aren't many restaurants, any where that offer true Mexican barbacoa; barbecued lamb. That's the specialty of Aqui es Texcoco.
Traditional Mexican lamb barbecue is done in an underground fire pit. Can't do that in a commercial restaurant, so owner Francisco Perez designed an oven to mimic the way the fire pit slowly roasts the lamb, drawing out the fat and juices without allowing them to evaporate away.
Four lambs per pot cook for more than seven hours. The end result is lamb, seasoned well. It's juicy, tender and while it still tastes like lamb, it's not gamey. Best way to eat, rolled into a tortilla, with a little onion and jalapeno and a healthy spoonful of the salsa borracha. Borracha means drunk, this salsa gets its name because the dark sauce includes pulque, the fermented sap of the maguey plant. Maguey is Mexican Agave. Perez also uses the leaves to season the meat while roasting.
Aqui es Texcoco serves the entire lamb, so food adventurers can order the lamb head, split down the skull to allow access to the juicy brain. The lamb brains are also available in a soft taco. The newbie food adventurer might want to go this route, because the brains are mixed into a sauce. The brains still have that soft, non meat texture, but the taste is like a mild stew. Add some fresh onion for added crunch and the green tomatillo salsa for heat.
Ditto the lamb consommé. Lots of people order the soup, even if they're not having the barbacoa. The consommé is strong and salty, add in lemon, onion and hot sauce to taste.
There is much that is familiar on the Aqui es Texcoco menu, but why go for the familiar? Instead try the huitlacoche quesataco. A quesataco is a quesadilla made with a corn, not flour tortilla. Huitlacoche is a corn fungus. Another name for huitlacoche is corn smut or a more appealing name is Mexican corn truffle. The taste is mild and if you like mushrooms, you should like huitlacoche.
No fungus for you? How about chapulines? Grasshoppers! Don't thumb your nose until you try a couple. It's clear these are bugs. No hiding the insect in the way they're prepared with citrus and chiles. Perez suggests rolling them up and eating as a taco. I think, they'd make great bar snacks. Instead of peanuts, have some chapulines!
If all this seems too exotic try the chicharron de queso; it's basically a mix of cheeses, grilled and melted into a thin layer, then rolled into a giant, crispy tube. Break off a piece and dip into the fresh guacamole. Fun to look at, marvel at and eat!
Another popular dish is the grilled quail. These little birds are marinated in dark beer and spices. The grill leaves the birds with little charred, crunchy bits, but the meat is still remarkably juicy. Forget the knife and fork and just pull the pieces apart and enjoy.
Next week, we're having Dinner Out in Laguna Hills. If you have a restaurant recommendation post it on our Facebook page.
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