When I met Border Grill’s co-owner, Mary Sue Milliken at an event at The Pacific Design Center, she did a lovely food demonstration of ceviche that was out of this world. We are talking famous celebrity chef here, from Top Chef Masters Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, her partner, have created a gastronomic dynasty. http://marysueandsusan.com/ She was so sweet and helpful with her special recipe and how to prepare it. We talked and I realized that I had never had the pleasure of experiencing her restaurant The Border Grill. She invited me to the one downtown at 445 S. Figueroa, and I had a very memorable meal. Talk about fun and creative cuisine, this restaurant of royalty boasts the best Mexican any where on the planet.
Part of my culinary adventure was getting there; I choose the always-colorful Metro Rail, one way to wet your appetite. Upon arrival the handsome Jackson, another way to wet your appetite, greeted me. The atmosphere is very joyful with whimsical art drawn on the walls by the artist, Huntley Muir. The staff is very eager to please; our very knowledgeable server was Cynthia. I really want to taste almost everything on the menu to truly know what the strengths are of any establishment, and Cynthia was extremely accommodating.
I started with their Repasado Margarita, which really packs a punch, made with Reposado Tequila, Agave Necktare and fresh lime, simple and oh so good. Their tortilla chips are served warm and come with 3 exceptional salsas, 1 tomatillo and 2 red salsas, all terrific. The guacamole is very fresh and tangy, a great accompaniment with the salsa and chips. The 2 soups ordered were, Tortilla Soup, and a Smoky Chicken Soup. The tortilla soup with roasted tomato, chipotle, panela, and avocado. is spicy, smoky and very hearty. The chicken soup was like Jewish penicillin, Mexican comfort food. I paired it with a Chilean Chardonnay-Los Vacos-Colchagua Valley – CL 2010. The perfect pairing, nice oakey flavors that enhanced the flavors of both soups. I tried these 2 salads, Mexican Chopped Salad, and Caesar Salad. The Mexican Chopped Salad had a wonderful sweet cumin flavor. Very crispy romaine lettuce with charred corn, roasted peppers, green chickpeas, avocado, tomato, tortilla chip, and cumin vinaigrette. This is one of the favorite items that I tasted all night, salad perfection. The Caesar – romaine hearts, chile rajas, roasted corn, crispy tortilla chips, argentine Parmesan, was not as good, did not have enough pizzazz.
On to the Carne Asada Quesadilla- grilled steak, caramelized onions, serrano chiles, manchego, panela and cotija cheeses, paired with a Camenera-Viniterra-Mendoza-AR 2007, a very zinfandel type wine. The meat was so tender and flavorful, and the homemade tortilla was out of this world. I also tasted the Green Corn Tamales, so sweet, like savory candie, delicious. This went well with the Chilean Chardonnay. The Seasonal Vegetable Enchilada with fresh vegetables, manchego, panila, and cotija cheeses, and homemade corn tortillas was cooked to perfection, and everything that you would want an enchilada to be. On to the main courses; The Coho Salmon was scrumptious, with roasted yellow pepper sauce, celery heart relish, quinoa fritters, seared greens. They managed to keep the Salmon very moist, but crispy on the bottom. My favorite, favorite thing that I had all night was The Gaucho Steak. The steak was tender, cooked medium rare, with sweet onions grilled on top, and cooked tortilla chips, for a crunchy textured base. The seasoning was simple; the steak was seared with a nice crust, very succulent and moist. A must have menu item if you visit this glorious Los Angeles gem. I had a side order of plantains, black beans. The plantains were crispy and soft on the inside, with spectacular flavor, the beans worked nicely with the steak as well. The Steak and Salmon was paired with a gorgeous Malbec- Filus-Mendoza-AR 2009, highlighting the smoky flavors of both the Steak and the Salmon.
Cynthia was so kind to put 5 deserts in to go bags for me to try later, they were all amazing, there was no way to even sample any of them, I was satisfied and very full.
The Border Grill is truly a one of a kind special Mexican Restaurant, with all of its nuances; it aims to please any picky palate. I will have to make it a once a month stop, and dive into the Green Corn Tamales, The Mexican Chopped Salad, and The Stellar Gaucho Steak, all very addicting and very good.