Meal in a bowl

caldo.jpgAfter using all that energy to laugh continuously along with the rest of the big crowd at Lage Raho Munna Bhai, we needed to refuel so we headed straight for Little Mexico. Located in an old bungalow painted in the Mexican colors, brightened with window boxes and cooled by strategic landscaping, Little Mexico is an oasis on South First Street. A homesick Potosino friend tipped us off; he always used to resort to Little Mexico when he was more homesick than usual. I haven’t found my main dish yet, but I heartily recommend the caldo.

It arrives in a very large soup plate, the beef version with cabbage and the chicken version without, in addition to the usual hunks of potato, calabaza, carrots, tomatoes, and more. The choice of tortillas is yours, and lime and rice are on the side to be added to taste. This is enough to feed four, probably. I think that the current price may be $4.50; whatever the exact price, this is a bargain in quality and quantity. The broth is delicious and very flavorful without ever being greasy or salty. I first became addicted to caldo at Abuelita’s, which initially existed just off the Drag and then redid a building downtown and promptly went broke, leaving the premises to be taken over by Mezzaluna, now gone itself. The Abuelita’s version had even more side additions and usually some cut up corn on the cob as well. Yesterday mine had a drumstick and a thigh on the bone. All over the room we were in were solitary diners bent over bowls of caldo, with the chicken version predominating.

Little Mexico is very clean and very homey. There are usually people dining outside on the patio as well as inside. The music yesterday was mostly vallenato cumbia music, never loud enough to interfere with the lively conversations. At Little Mexico the table salsa is very picante, the beans are just the right texture and very smokey, and the crowd is pretty much South Austin.

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