We started our meal with an order of Traditional Guacamole, which may sound pedestrian, but it was fresh, very well flavored and highly addictive. The homemade corn chips served alongside it made it nearly impossible to resist. A nice combination with my house margarita. We were also given a selection of "condiments" served with a basket of ciabatta rolls. A bit of pate, some pickled vegetables, butter with orange zest and herbs, and a sweet spicy salsa macha that was so wonderfully smokey and tasty, my friend wanted to buy a to-go container.
I ordered the Mole Amarillo de Oaxaca with Duck Breast. One of three moles on the menu, this one is made from regional chiles, tomatillos, corn masa, flavored with fresh herbs, served with chayotes and green beans. This was a wonderful dish that was a lighter type of mole, the bright flavor of the herbs and spices shining through. It was the type of dish that left me craving more. All of the moles are offered with a choice of Berkshire marbled pork chop, Maple Leaf Farms duck breast (my choice), free range natural chicken breast, market shrimp or seasonal vegetables.
One friend ordered the Filete de Res y Hongos con Chile Pasilla Oaxaqueño which is certified Angus beef tenderloin with mushrooms and chile pasilla oaxaqueño and red wine reduction. It was perfectly cooked, extremely tender and bursting with deep richness from the sauce. My friend did mention her portion has a bit fatty, which for the cut and price was unexpected. Another friend had the Chile Poblano Relleno de Picadillo Oaxaqueño. A Oaxacan classic—slow braised Berkshire pork cooked with tomatoes, tomatillos, olives, capers and raisins in a chile poblano, battered cooked a la minute, served with tomato-almond sauce. Being so consumed with my mole, I didn't taste this dish, but my friend said that even though the egg batter was a tad excessive, she enjoyed the flavors.
The evening of our visit the gracious and talented chef, Iliana de la Vega, made her way through the dining room checking on her guests making sure all was well. De la Vega and her husband, Ernesto Torrealba, left Mexico City and their established restaurant there to flee the unrest in the region. They moved to Texas and Chef de la Vega was hired at the Center for Foods of the Americas in San Antonio (now known as the Culinary Institute of Americas) as an instructor of Latin cuisine. After the success of their trailer, they opened the restaurant in the little bungalow and have a steady stream of accolades from both local and national media alike. De la Vega recently left her position at the Institute and now focuses all of her attention on El Naranjo, which is evident in the great food they produce. El Naranjo is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. (Cathy)