Expect a crash course in authentic Mexican cuisine and wide smiles when you step inside Casa Frida Mexican Grill.
"Do you know what posole is?" asked co-owner Victor Bocos during one lunchtime visit. The blood-red soup, the day's special, came with slow-roasted pork shoulder, big tender kernels of hominy corn, oregano, and crushed chili. It dates back to the era before European explorers arrived. The Aztecs ritually ate an ancient version of this soup during special occasions. At times, it was said to have been made with human meat.
Julieta (Casa Frida is run by a husband-and-wife team) is likewise eager to explain the depth of each element of the restaurant, that the glass jars on each table, filled with jalapeño peppers, disks of carrot and cauliflower florets, are called escabeche. "I'll bring you some chips so you can try it," she said before disappearing into a door near the open kitchen.
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The Bocoses said they're using their mothers' and grandmothers' recipes.
"We're really trying to change the idea that Mexican food is Tex-Mex," Julieta said. "No one in Mexico eats burritos! We didn't know what a burrito was until we moved to the U.S."
They share that allegiance to Mexican culture with Frida Kahlo. The painter is famous for her somber self-portraits with vivid, ornate clothes and an unmistakable unibrow. She's also the restaurant's namesake and in a way its patron saint. Dozens of prints of her paintings hang on bright-orange, red, and pink walls all around the restaurant.
"She dressed up every day in the Mexican dresses with flowers in her hair," said Julieta. "She went to dinners with the Rockefellers and still wore her dresses and all of her heavy jewelry."