Taste 08.01.19

Hector Berumen >> Villa Sombreros

Apparently no one told Hector Berumen he couldn’t play with his food.

The Villa Sombreros chef is committed to regional dishes from Mexico, importing spices for his carnitas jerezanas, frida sincronizada and other favorites. But the menu also lists something not found in a typical Mexican restaurant.

“Hector’s Toothpicks” are hardly the tight, pointed things you would expect. Instead, construction involves rolling mole poblano into flour tortillas and dropping them into a fryer. The shell turns out malty and crackling—a favorable contrast to tender hunks of chicken inside. They are dressed in pico de gallo, sour cream, some pickled carrots and crumbles of cheese that provide pops that range between sweet and tangy.

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It’s still just a simple bit of fun—until draped in Berumen’s husky, brick red sauce. The mole develops a ponderous heat that rises from an earthy depth of toasted spice and leaves raspy wisps of smoke trailing through each bite, fading into the calm blanket of sour cream. Suddenly the toothpicks are not so frivolous.

VILLA SOMBREROS, Ocean between Mission and San Carlos, Carmel. 574-8991, villasombreros.com

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