Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Colibri Mexican Bistro, San Francisco

Colibri Mexican Bistro
Upscale Mexican bar and restaurant near Union Square

Here in California, we are still searching for our "favorite" Mexican place. I'm not sure why it continues to elude us. Perhaps it's that there are so many variations: authentic Mexican, "authentic" Mexican, Tex-Mex, taqueria, and everyone has their own spin on it. In Mountain View alone, we have a Taqueria (Los Charros), which does great simple burritos and quesadillas; a grill (El Grullense), which does terrific sopes, tacos, and so on; and two Fiesta Del Mars, which do more traditional Mexican dishes centered around seafood (and apparently cook everything in chicken broth). And of course, there's Chevy's, which is enjoyable in its own right.

Friday night, we were taking our friend John out for his last dinner in the Bay Area before moving to Florida, and he chose Mexican as his cuisine. In the book Mark bought me for Christmas, Colibri Mexican Bistro was highlighted as having good, fresh ingredients, and it was nearby, so off we went.

Even though they were busy when we called, we were seated right away, at a booth near the bar with a fine view of Mexican wrestling movies. We started with freshly-made guacamole, mild, which was nice and creamy with big chunks of avocado in it. I don't know if anyone else likes that, but I love it. One interesting wrinkle: rather than tortilla chips, they served the guacamole with small corn tortillas. They were warm and fresh and I didn't miss the chips one bit, to be honest. For appetizers, Mark and I also split a pair of small tamales with their "famous" mole sauce, which was sweet and tangy and complemented the corn flour tamales nicely. We used up another few tortillas sopping up the leftover mole sauce.

Our friend John had gotten the mole poblano chicken, and the mole sauce proved to be a hit all around. Don't miss it, when you go. Mark and I had carnitas, with a side of estofado (a seasoned mix of peppers, onions, and mushrooms). The carnitas wasn't the best I've had (the little Mexican place in Palo Alto whose name I can't remember is the best carnitas I can recall), but it was way up there: tender, with a rich, fresh blend of spices. And we enjoyed the estofado: the veggies were cooked, but not soft; the spice was light and complementary rather than overwhelming.

We passed on dessert, as we so often do, but Colibri is going on our short list of Mexican places to return to. It's just a shame there are so many other good places close to Union Square... which we're working on covering for you!

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