Kid Hit Menu Items: The standard chip gorging is a given at Cacao Mexicatessen — especially if you get a huge bag to go ($3) — but as far as other more substantial food, the kids’ menu includes two taquitos with rice & beans ($4.75), hot dog and fries ($4.50), and quesadilla plate ($4.50). And yet there’s no reason to stick to the kids’ offerings when the big menu is loaded with customizable tacos, tortas, sopas, enchiladas, etc. The vegetarian chile relleno filling with fresh corn and cheese went over quite well the other week. Check for special aguas frescas. Fresh mild guacamole is ready to go in 4 or 8-ounce containers stored in the deli case.
Adult Perks: Cacao has plenty of options for palates ranging from fairly limited to more adventuresome. The carnitas de pato ($3.49 taco), which J. Gold selected among his Top 10 dishes of 2010, is a must-order for me. Veg options such as calabacitas and nopales (either served on a taco, sope, or burrito) help balance the fatty richness of the duck without compromising flavor. Looking for something more intense, like a mole or huitlacoche crepe ($13.95)? Cacao’s got those. Coffee is organic and locally roasted, and drinks include bottomless drip, espresso drinks, and special Mexican caramel and Papantla vanilla lattes.
Pros: Cacao is a family business with a very friendly, laid back vibe. Counter service keeps things simple, and chocolates and other imported items are well-selected. I picked up some nice organic cacao nibs here. (It’s not as if I use them all the time, but nibs are good have on hand for extra texture in cakes and cookies.) In addition to the indoor tables, seating is set up on the small covered front patio — good for street and people watching. This place is an excellent catering option for groups, too.
Cons: The dining room isn’t a huge, rambling restaurant. Some of the candies and treats for sale are tempting and distracting. (Up to you whether or not this factor falls into Pro or Con column).
Changing Station: No
High Chairs: Yes
Parking and Access: Parking in rear, and there’s street parking in front of the restaurant or the Trader Joe’s located directly next door.
Other Tidbits: Cacao opened in the summer of ’09 with established roots in the Eagle Rock retail community. The family owns the flower shop next door, so the building and business’s presence feels familiar. My knowledge of Mexican food is not as substantial as I’d like it to be, and some serious experts might disagree. But all of the ingredients are fresh, with careful, complex preparations and the requisite handmade tortillas. Cacao is an accessible, easygoing, high-quality Mexican restaurant that’s just right for its friendly neighborhood.
1576 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock
Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 8:30 – 9 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.