Mezcalito Oaxacan Cuisine: A Colorful Culinary Adventure
Mezcalito Oaxacan Cuisine, 5065 Pacific Street, Rocklin, 916-701-4772, mezcalitocuisine.com
Mezcalito translated is “little mezcal”—the cactus from which the potent cousin of tequila is produced. In this case, it’s also the plant that adorns the restaurant’s logo and provides a portent into Owner Ruben Regalado’s future plans (think mezcal bar!). For now, his authentic cuisine from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, is a local favorite, and word is spreading fast about the fresh ingredients and exquisitos sabores (thank you, Google Translate).
First to arrive was the Oaxacan-style ceviche—marinated white sea bass with tomatoes, onions, avocado, cilantro, sliced red Fresno chilis, and lime juice. Served alongside fresh tortilla chips, I can’t think of a more refreshing starter. “A cold cerveza, por favor” should be the next words from your mouth—if you’re of legal age and right mind, of course.
“What’s molcajete?” some may ask. Literally, it’s Spanish for the mortal and pestle used to grind spices, herbs, and grains that the dish is prepared and served in. If you’re lucky enough to see it on a menu, such as the surf and turf molcajete at Mezcalito, the said traditional kitchen tool becomes a fiery cauldron of tongue-searing happiness. As our entrée arrived, all eyes were transfixed on its steaming bounty of large, wild-caught shrimp, mussels, steak, chicken, onions, peppers, and nopales (cactus) simmering in Mezcalito’s special sauce. Warm tortillas appeared just as the cauldron temperature settled below blistering. Exquisito!
With all the food-focused weeks our region boasts—Burger Week, Bacon Week, Beer Week, etc.—I think it’s time for Fish Taco Week! Let’s lighten up the fare a little. I mean, honestly, who wants to eat burgers and bacon for a week? Ok, stupid question…but when the brain trusts do come to their senses, Fish Taco Week would be a winner—and Mezcalito’s can fire the opening salvo. The Oaxacan version served here—featuring grilled cod, green papaya, cabbage, mango, avocado, and chipotle aioli on warm flour tortillas—will stand up to anyone’s…and I’ve eaten my fair share of them from all corners of the country.
Flan or churro? When it’s churros with raspberry and caramel sauce and a scoop of mezcal-vanilla ice cream, the answer should be a given. Need I say more?
With so many good things on Mezcalito’s menu, plus regularly rotating specials, your first trip here is definitely not going to be your last.
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (Sunday); 9 a.m.-9 p.m. (Monday-Saturday)
Try This: Oaxacan Style Ceviche, Molotes, Mercado Salad, Surf and Turf Molcajete, Pastor Wrap, Fish Tacos, Enmoladas, Tlayuda, Vegan Rice Bowl, Horchata, Churros & Mezcal Ice Cream
Drinks: Beer and wine
Heads-Up: Breakfast till noon; catering; Happy Hour from 2-6 p.m. (Monday-Friday); delivery available via DoorDash; vegan options; patio; weekend and daily specials; everything (including chips and tortillas) is made in-house; kids’ menu
by Lorn Randall // photos by DANTE FONTANA