Mi Casa es su Queso

casa de los gabachos gorditorifficos

This restaurant is part of my childhood. There’s no longer a cigarette machine, but not much else has changed. It’s “Mexican Food” as it was understood by Anglos in 1972 Costa Mesa. Hard shell tacos, refried beans with rice with every entrée, no surprises, and literally deadly quantities of cheese.

For adults there is a great emphasis on margaritas.

Mi Casa is not Mexican food. Most people who are aficionados of good food would not consider it to be worth considering at all. I like it. It’s my childhood, and there is nothing modern about it. No authentic cochinito en pibil, but no Chili’s waitresses with flair upselling me on the Chi-Chi-Tastic Balsamic Nacho Wrap, either.

They never lost the red leather booths or the hanging baskets at Mi Casa, or the sixty year old women in miniskirts and tights serving food, or even the original tables, which as you can see were from a Roy Rogers steakhouse circa 197… 1971, I bet.

Why yes, I would like another margarita, ma’am.

31 thoughts on “Mi Casa es su Queso

    1. The beans are at least 60% melted cheese.
      All the entrée choices contain tremendous amounts of shredded or melted cheese, usually pouring out and over onto the cheese in the beans and creating a Union of Cheese.
      There is an overall heavy sprinkling of the same shredded cheese on the plate, just sort of miscellaneously.
      My guess is that the meal overall is about 60%-65% cheese unless you get a steak etc., and more so if your dish explicitly contains cheese as a named ingredient.
      The overall weight of food in a dinner is approximately nine hundred kilograms, mostly quesal mass.

      1. Sounds…good.
        I was hoping for some childhood memory of witnessing a heart attack. Well, maybe “hoping” isn’t the word, but you know.

  1. Mi Casa is not Mexican food. Most people who are aficionados of good food would not consider it to be worth considering at all. I like it. It’s my childhood, and there is nothing modern about it. No authentic cochinito en pibil, but no Chili’s waitresses with flair upselling me on the Chi-Chi-Tastic Balsamic Nacho Wrap, either.
    Indeed. It’s why I’ll always remember Mi Hogar and their chízdip.

      1. We loved El Matador because my dad had been instrumental in getting the owner’s sons through high school. He was treated like a king there. One of the un-looked-for perks of being a good high school counselor.

      2. It continues to be:
             My brother Tom's favorite restaurant, so we stop
        there to eat every time he's in town visiting.  And the
        cheese, oh, yes, the cheese...
                         Mike
  2. I am suddenly in desperate need of a large oval plate covered in a bean and cheese mush with a bit of rice and tortilla buried somewhere under the steaming slop. Oh god I miss Mi Casa.
    Oh yeah, jonesin’ hard.

    1. There are a couple places around the neighborhood that I have logged in my mind that might possibly hold the appropriate type of “non-mexican mexican” food that you seek.

  3. For adults there is a great emphasis on margaritas
    the bar/waiting area is what nails this one home.. including the endless supply of hot chips and overflowing pitchers of fresh’ish salsa.

    1. I just had what may have been the greatest of all avocados evar. From Raul, my new farmers’ market friend. Why did I only get one. You have to come with me one week.

  4. Because I’m a New York Jew that place for me is the long-defunct Chun Cha Fu, the gigantic Chinese restaurant that was on the Upper West Side back when the Upper West Side was seedy and vaguely undesirable. It was the phrase “cigarette machine” that brought it back to me. Chun Cha Fu was a New York Chinese place such as you can’t find much anymore, with the padded booths and the tasseled menus and the Shirley Temples for the kids. There was this fake opulence that seems no longer to be the goal for Chinese restaurants. I miss that place.

    1. There’s a place like that in SF, the name of which I forget but anyone from there would know. It’s upstairs, with something of a view I think, and it’s all red leather booths and have another mai tai, etc.

      1. If you’re ever planning to be in Boston, ping me and we’ll go to the Hong Kong, favored by generations of Harvard students for their scorpion bowls and late-night munchies satisfaction. More downmarket than faux-opulent, but still an experience.

  5. “no surprises”
    Well, except for the roach they served back in the early eighties.
    But that was more than 20 years ago, and I can not resist the draw of a place that is so liberal with the cheese…mmmm…deadly…

  6. Roy Rogers? NO WAY! I always wondered about the branding on the tables. Also, kind of scared of something I have seen on the menu since practically birth:
    Mi Casa Seafood (some kind of cod)?
    Julian hates Mi Casa- he doesn’t get it, huh.

    1. That’s weird, considering his affection for armpit bars in the 951.
      Seafood? Mi Casa? Probably safe in that it’s 581% frozen. But that’s like ordering the Italian food in a family restaurant. Bad idea jeans.

  7. My childhood memory:
    Dinah’s in Westchester. The same booths still exist as does the fried chicken and creamed spinach (***shudders***) But, it’s where I discovered chocolate chip pancakes with powdered sugar and whipped cream at midnight after a night of getting high.
    Oh yahh.

      1. The German Pancake with powdered sugar and squeezed lemon! On a plate bigger then anyone’s head circumference.
        And who can’t forget the copper and black coffee pot for each table…

  8. in the years 1997-2001 i probably drank 16000 gallons of those margaritas while watching laker games at the “burroh room.” i miss it!

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