I have heard both extreme positions on Restaurante La Tortilla Mexicana. Some despise it; others love it. I fall in the love camp.
La Tortilla Mexicana is a quaint family run establishment that asserts to provide authentic Mexican food as served in the Oaxaca (pronounced wat-a-ka) province. I have been to Oaxaca, and I can affirm the authenticity of their claim. Folks who expect Mexican restaurants to provide large portions of heart destroying rich foods, heavy on ground beef, molten cheddar or jack cheese, all wrapped in tortillas and covered in guacamole, sour cream and salsa and accompanied by thick pasty refried beans will be surprised. On my recent visit, I ordered the Chicken Enchilada Molé. Molé is a spicy tomato-chocolate sauce. Yes, Chocolate. No, it is not sweet. La Tortilla Mexicana’s Molé is also not very spicy. For those of us who want to crank up the heat a little, order a condiment of house made hot sauce. My three enchiladas (chunks of chicken wrapped in soft tortillas) were each about five inches long and generously coated in Molé. The plate also included three sides: a saffron rice, refried beans, and a slaw salad. The saffron rice is good, but not outstanding. The refried beans are almost the antithesis of the typical slop sold in other Mexican restaurants. These beans, like everything else, are house-made. They are not so thick and pasty as most refried beans, with some of the beans remaining intact and identifiable. They have a nutty and earthy flavour that is lacking in the typical refried paste. The cabbage slaw is very simple and amazingly refreshing. The cabbage is shredded very thin, topped with a tomato slice and sprinkled with grated Cotija cheese. This is a mild fairly soft cheese that grates into quite fine curds.
On this visit, my dining companions ordered the Empañada Machaca. An empañada looks like a large Mexican pierogi that has been deep fried.
Machaca is one of the five fillings that are available for most of the dishes offered, including Huarache (pronounced war-aw-chae), Quesadilla, and Tacos.
Machaca is a white fish marinated in orange and accompanied with creamy Oaxaca cheese.
The fish and cheese are folded into a tortilla, which is then deep fried, crisping the tortilla and melting the cheese. It is served with the house slaw. At just $7.00, one empañada is an inexpensive but satisfying lunch. For an extra $5.00 refried beans and saffron rice can be added.
Folks who avoid Mexican food because of its spice, need not worry here. Spice is always under your control. It comes in little steel pots of red or green sauce:. Even the salsa is not hot, but it is exceptionally fresh.
Don’t like cilantro? Ask for a fresh batch of salsa to be made just for you. Try to get that anywhere else. Which brings me to my last point. The service is very friendly and accommodating, but as everything is made to order, the food does not arrive quickly.
La Tortilla Mexicana
910 Esquimalt Road, Victoria, BC V9A 3M6