El Aguila Mexican Cuisine: Check, Please! Bay Area Review

El Aguila Mexican Cuisine: Check, Please! Bay Area Review


– Oaxacan specialties stand out at Frank’s unpretentious spot where beautifully plated options burst with Southern Mexican flavor. There are some menu surprises too, from the handmade tortillas
to, yes, potato chips. You’ll find it all in
downtown Pleasant Hill at El Aguila Mexican Cuisine. (Mexican music) – I came here in 1991, and my
first job was a dishwasher, and from that moment, I
start to plan to learn, just little by little. You become to respect yourself and your profession, you know? My name is Daniel Patlan,
and here is my restaurant, El Aguila. When you see the Mexican flag, the first thing you see
is the eagle, the el aguila. Mexico is so many states,
that each town is different, you know, with different herbs, different way to prepare the same things. Here in El Aguila, we try to
do a good quality product, because we gonna eat that food too. You know, I’m gonna bring that food to my house, because I don’t
have time to cook it too. So that is important for me. I don’t want to give anyone else the food that I don’t want to eat. What can I say about my wife? She’s in charge of the greens, margaritas. Actually, she is my boss. (laughing) I mean, she is amazing. I learn from her and I do this because I want to make
her happy, honestly. That is the most important thing for me is to make my wife happy. My goal here in El
Aguila is, after you eat, you feel good yourself, you know? You feel healthy. You filled with energy, you know? – All right, Frank, how
did you find this spot? – Actually, we were
listening to the radio. It was advertising Mexican
food made with Mary’s chicken or Niman Ranch beef. You know, integrity. It was right up our alley. So we went in, a little taqueria style, and we noticed that the beautiful woman behind the counter, that
she had waited on us at a four-star Italian
restaurant, years ago. Found out her and her husband
started this wonderful– – [Leslie] And he’s the chef. – He’s the chef, Chef Oscar, who has cooked at many
four-star restaurants, and he wanted to take something
and really present it. So we ordered some stuff
and, to my surprise, the next question was, “Would
you like potato chips?” (laughing) Right, you know, potato chips. Where am I, right? Aren’t I in a Mexican restaurant? And they’re fresh fried potato chips, dusted with a little chili, served with a nice hot pureed salsa. It was great anticipation for your meal. – [Jerry] Totally spot on. This is an unexpected surprise. – [Frank] Yeah. – I’m a Mission burrito guy. So I was pleasantly
surprised by this place. – Yeah. – The salsa was great. It had a good amount of heat, maybe not too much heat. (laughing) Everything was just delicious. – You know, I have to
say, I felt like this was artfully presented Mexican cuisine that was definitely a step above. We had the empanadas, which
was served beautifully on the plate with some queso fresco on the bottom of the plate, with shavings of crisp green cabbage
on top that just added a little pop of flavor
and texture to that dish. It was just beautiful. – It’s the fresh and the
cooked together, right? – That’s right, that gives
it the perfect combination. – [Jerry] I had a potato
and poblano burrito. I figured that the tortilla
was fresh made there. – [Frank] ‘Cause they’re all fresh. – It was like delicious and
like, usually, you know, potatoes inside a burrito get
overly cooked or mushy or, everything was just well done. They were firm and delicious
and soft and tender all at the same time, and very flavorful. – My favorite thing to start off with is the tostada chicken tinga. So it’s this chicken that’s marinated with chipotle and caramelized onion, shredded on top of a crispy tostada. When you bite into the chicken, and that final crunch at the end, it’s what I go– – You’re an all senses kind of guy. – [Frank] I’m telling you. – You like the sound and
the smell and the feel. – Yeah, well that’s what it’s all about. – Yeah, of course. – I never order a chile relleno because it’s usually this poblano chili that’s fried and stuffed
with all this cheese, right? – Cheese and gooey and yeah. – Well, they do it different. They don’t batter it, and
they roast it or bake it. But inside is a picadillo, which is, it’s kind of like ratatouille
meets ground beef. So stuffed inside, nice and fresh, a little bit of cheese on top
in a roasted tomato sauce. The best part about it
that my wife and I believe is that when you eat
there and you come home, you feel good, and that’s very important. – [Leslie] Not heavy dishes. – [Frank] Yeah. There’s such an effort to it, right? When my wife had the
taquitos this last time, and on one half of the plate, it was a bed of roasted tomato sauce, and on the other half was a chile verde, and you didn’t know
until you spun the plate. Just the small things. – You can tell it’s homemade and fresh and prepared with love, and that’s what we really loved about it. So we had the carne asada burrito that was just a Mission-style burrito wrapped beautifully in
a brown paper wrapping and filled with deliciousness. We just loved everything. – [Leslie] Did you feel
like you got value? – [Jerry] I definitely did. The food was wonderful. They could have charged me more and I would have been okay with that. – [Leslie] And you’re
shaking your head yes. – I totally agree with you. You are getting high
quality, well-crafted, artisanally presented food
that just was a treat to eat. – And not too spicy. – And not too spicy. (laughing) – And what about desserts? – At this place, they
make these corn cakes. It’s like a fallen
souffle, and it’s just soft and almost pudding-like on the inside. – We loved the Mexican wedding cookies. They had a little hint of lemon, you know, a nice round size cookie
that was more than a bite, and it was such a nice
way to end the meal. They’re calling my name. (laughing) – All right, this is your spot, Frank. Wrap it up for us. – If you’re looking for fresh, delicious, authentic Mexican recipes
that are a little bit upscale, and you want to feel good
about the food you’re eating, try El Aguila. – [Leslie] Annemarie? – If I’m in the East Bay,
I think I’d make a detour to go back, and I definitely want to try a little bit more of their menu items. – [Leslie] And Jerry? – You know, you’ve never
eaten at a taqueria like this, and that’s actually a good thing. This place is on point. Execution is amazing. It’s delicious. I’m definitely going back. – All right. If you would like to try
El Aguila Mexican Cuisine, it’s located on Contra Costa Boulevard near Ellingwood Drive in Pleasant Hill. The telephone number is 925-682-4444. It’s open for lunch and
dinner, Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations are not accepted, and the average dinner tab per person without drinks is around $20. – [Male Announcer] Check, Please! Bay Area is made possible by the
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