Casa Lopez–the secret is the sauce
By Mike Leifheit
By Mike Leifheit
Owner of the Irish Rose Restaurant, Mike Leifheit, reviews locally owned restaurants who make it from scratch.
Last week I wrote about Mi Magdalena, and about turning my car around for good Mole or Chile Verde. Well, about all I had to do to find excellent Chile Verde was to turn my car around. Not more than a good stones throw from Mi Magdalena, or to be more precise, just the other side of the bridge, is Casa Lopez. The folks who originally opened Casa Lopez came from a stint running the kitchen at the Guadalajara de Noche, one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city. Those original people, from whence the name Lopez is derived, sold it to the present owners. They plan to change the name to El Ranchito. Presently, however, it is operating as Casa Lopez. It is owned by Bertha Alegria who cooks, assisted by her sister Veguinia. The young man (Berthas nephew) brings chips and salsa immediately. The salsa is Tomato based, and I prefer Chile based Salsas. I ask if he has a Salsa Picante. He returns immediately with a very good salsa de chile arbol in a catsup-type squeeze bottle. I once gave up red meat for a period of years. The only exception I made was an occasional foray into chile verde. To be more exact Puerco con Chile Verde, or, pork cooked in green chile sauce. Green chile sauce is made with tomatillos (also called baby green tomatoes, although strictly speaking, they are not a tomato but a member of the tomato family), jalapeno, cilantro, and onion. When pork is cooked in this sauce, it gives up some of its essence to the sauce, and the synergistic result is to die for. Will I die today? I wonder as I wait patiently for my Chile Verde.When the dish arrives, it is just what I was looking for, slightly fiery green sauce, tiny little pieces of pork, all topped with slivered yellow onion. The rice and beans are excellent, too, and I have to force myself to stop eating. I ask for a to-go container so I can revisit tonight.After writing a little more of this article, the chile is calling me. I take another bite. It is even better after cooling a little. I can taste more of the flavors. The slivered onion is a sheer stroke of genius. I sit there picking the onion off the top, pretending that I am not still eating. Casa Lopez is open seven days a week: Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to10 p.m.: Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Who says you cant get good food after the bars close? Its address is 2019 S. Main, and you can reach them by telephone at 961-8138.