Mi Magdalena–a taste of old Mexico
By Mike Leifheit
By Mike Leifheit
Owner of the Irish Rose Restaurant, Mike Leifheit reviews locally owned restaurants who make it from scratch.
This is the place that sits across from the ball diamond on 15th Avenue next to the bridge. It has been a Mexican restaurant for years, starting when my friend, Luis, first moved there from what is now the location of Taco Loco on South Main Street. Luis was there for a number of years, and then the restaurant was sold to people who called it Mexico Lindo. Both of these restaurants were quite wonderful, and the new ownership carries that same great tradition to new heights.
I like to eat soup for lunch. It fills you up, but it doesnt weigh you down so you cant work in the afternoon. As a result, I seek out places that have lighter soups, vegetarian or chicken usually. One of the most exciting soups I have tasted in the whole city is Mi Magdalenas Caldo Tlapeno. This is a spicy chicken soup with whole peppers floating in it: chipotle peppers, which, if I am not mistaken, are smoked, ripened jalapenos. Be careful, for on the menu, it only says Spicy Chicken and Rice Soup, and this one is not for amateurs.
On my most recent trip, I had the Birria De Chivo, or spicy goat soup. It came with chopped onion, chopped jalapenos, wedges of lime and fresh cilantro. I ordered a side of refried beans, which were extremely well caramelized, and some fresh corn tortillas. This came off like Pozole (a twice-cooked pork soup) in that the sauce was similar. Heavy chili soups or stews like this should only be eaten early in the day when you are 55 years old. Still, I loved it.
Before I left, Liborio, whose family includes his brother David, his father Liborio, Sr., and his sisters Sonia and Veronica, who all work at Mi Magdalena, asked me if I wanted to try their Mole. Now there are two things in life that will make me turn my car around: well, maybe three, but two of them are definitely Chili Verde with Pork and Chicken Moleespecially when the mole is homemade, and this one definitely was. The mole is homemade, said Liborio.
I know, that is why you wanted me to try it, I said. They serve it as Chicken en Mole, and as Enchiladas Mole, and also as a Torta or sandwich.
You can forget the Spanish-English dictionary when dining here; they all speak excellent English. This may be the one exception to the rule that the food is better if it is hard to communicate. Dishes here are definitely authentic.
So forget those east-side Mexican restaurants, and come down here where the real people eat the real food. You will be glad you did. Bring your kids; it will broaden their horizons both culturally and gastronomically.