Stepping into Casa de Frida is Latin elegance at its best. The recently opened upscale Latin restaurant is a dining experience that shouldn’t be missed by travelers venturing to the desert oasis.
The restaurant is Latin chic with an ode to the late and much beloved Mexican-feminist artist Frida Kahlo. Artfully placed throughout the lounge and restaurant are Day of the Dead sculptures and Latin colors traveling through time echoing the heritage that inspired this restaurant.
Banking on his heritage and that of the Latin world, Victoriano Rodriguez, who is better known as Chef Victor, created dishes where he fused together Latin American, Cuban, Caribbean, and Spanish flavors with his family’s recipes handed down from generations. The result is savory dishes that are unlike anything south of the boarder (or from Spain) has ever tasted before, but the real magic is his specialty desert that is flan-like: a creamy and thick but un-flan texture baked together on top of a rich chocolate cake base that is a magical miracle and delightful to taste.
Chef Victor is co-owner of Casa de Frida with Matt Naylor and couple Michelle McMckee and Laura O’Kane.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First guests should stop in at the lounge – that is all at once trendy and modern with its bright Latin colors and warm and welcoming – for a before dinner drink around the vintage mahogany bar as friends gather. The bright Latin colors and designs inspire creativity and a fun atmosphere, while the dark wood furniture and classic upholstery feel like home.
During the summers, the dining room opens up onto the patio and the sidewalk with a simple opening of the glass windows.
The drinks are delightful tequila and fruit inspired cocktails. The wine list is small, but exceptional.
Stay for dinner and move into the dining room to enjoy what Chef Victor has dreamed up to serve guests.
On the night that my group dined at Casa de Frida, we started with the Ceviche Costeno. It was spicy and light – a delightful cocktail of raw shrimp cooked in the glass by the lime and other citrus juices and Serrano chiles. The concoction was rounded out by the blend of red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cilantro. The tortilla chips that came with the dish helped take the heat off the tongue when it got too hot.
Next, up was Barbacoa, a Mexican version of France’s beef bourguignon. The meat fell off the bone it was so tender and juicy and so flavorful and savory. We also sampled the Enchalada Suizas, which was once again a delicious delight. I’m not sure if there is any bad dish on the menu.
Dessert lovers, like me, will appreciate the unique dessert menu and Chef Victor’s masterpiece creation, which I don’t even know the name of, but have fond memories of delighting in its flavors and marveling at how it mysteriously all was baked together as it’s very unusual.
Casa de Frida is distinctive and memorable. I can’t wait to bring Super G back to the restaurant during another trip to the desert and watch her taste Chef Victor’s creations.
THE DIRTY DISH
TYPE OF RESTAURANT: LGBT-owned, artisan Latino cuisine
RATING: 5 = midnight blue
(0 inedible – 5 a tasty delight)
AMBIANCE: Fun, Latin chic with touches of home.
SCENE: Desert casual chic and hip – a happening place for parties of any size.
SERVICE: Friendly and attentive service that is right on spot.
NOISE LEVEL: In spite of being full, the noise level didn’t get to the point where we couldn’t hear our own conversation at our table.
RECOMMENDED DISHES: The Barbacoa, Chef Victor’s signature dish and the mysterious magical desert (mentioned above).
SIP: Creative tequila and fruit inspired cocktails and a well appointed wine list.
CHECK, PLEASE: $$$$ = Over $30
(price of average dinner/lunch/breakfast/brunch bill for an individual dinner)
THE EAT: I loved the unique fusion of Latin flavors and the ode to Frida throughout the décor to the hospitality.
WORTH THE NIGHT OUT: This was delicious! = ♦♦♦
This article originally appeared in Girls That Roam.