A little cafe, some nice Tortas…in Pasadena.
Oh, boy. El Portal’s going to be mad at me.
You remember El Portal…the Yucatan Place I tried a couple of weeks ago, that I thought was “meh”. (Okay, I’ll give them this. The atmosphere was nice. The Albondigas Soup with Meatballs was really nice. Other than that…meh.)
Still…and I hate to say this…
If you’re coming over that part of Pasadena, there’s another Mexican restaurant you should try…
…and its in the same Retail complex as El Portal…
…and I liked it way better.
It’s called Yahaira’s Cafe.
Okay, first things first. It’s small. You might mistake it for a convenience store when you walked by it on Colorado. But you walk inside, and…it’s got a bit of that Colorful Latin flair you might find if you shop carefully at Cost Plus World Market.
But you’re not going for decor, you’re going for the sandwiches (Tortas), and those they’ve got in spades. I’ve got to admit, I was a bit disappointed when I first saw my Torta headed my way. I’m used to them being so much…well…bigger…
But, when I bit into the one I got (more on that in a minute), I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was I was surprised, I was delighted. Yahaira’s Cafe makes a damn good Torta. Yeah, it’s on the small side like the restaurant, but they made it worth my while.
Look Yahaira’s Cafe describes itself as “Nuevo Latino Cuisine” on it’s website. That’s all I could get out of them as a description. What State of Mexico are they from? I don’t know. Do I see a lot of Mexican-Americans hanging out here, getting their grub on? Well, I came for my typically late lunch and the place just had me and the crew. They do Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, and their menu has definitely made me curious about the Breakfast, so I will be back. Even though I’ve been spending review after review, twisting myself into knots trying to avoid the word authentic, I have to admit I’m not sure Yahaira’s Cafe is. Then again, I’m not sure it ain’t either.
But I liked it. I liked Yahaira’s Cafe, and that’s what counts. It’s just a nice little neighborhood joint serving up some decent Mexican Food. Food Blogs are supposed to reward places that do that, right?
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Like I said, most of the Tortas I’ve had, have been the size of Footballs (the NFL kind), and while they’re almost always tasty, there is a bit of a fight to get through to the meat, creamy, avocado center.
But at Yahaira’s Cafe, the Tortas are a bit smaller, and for once…that’s actually a good thing.
I’m still going to go with Cook’s Tortas as my go-to Torta place, but I gotta tell you, these little gems almost caught up.
I went with the Adobabo Torta, which is a Grilled Steak sandwich. Lovely, perfectly cooked meat. Achiote Marinade which was…which was…
Hey Google, what is Achiote exactly?
Achiote (Bixa orellana) is a shrub or small tree originating from the tropical region of the Americas. Central and South American natives originally used the seeds to make red body paint and lipstick. For this reason, the achiote is sometimes called the lipstick tree.
The tree is best known as the source of annatto, a natural orange-red condiment (also called “achiote” or “bijol”) obtained from the waxy arils that cover its seeds. The ground seeds are widely used in traditional dishes in South and Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico; such as cochinita pibil, chicken in achiote and caldo de olla.
So…it’s probably not the first time I had Achiote, but it’s the first time I knew I was having something with Achiote in it, so…good deal. Delicious. I’d love to have it again.
Couple the with a small salad. Nothing that’s going to start a gastronomic revolution, I mean…c’mon it’s a side salad. The Dressing’s your basic Italian. All good, but nothing special.
The Sandwich is. It’s small of stature, but tasty of bite. I’ll have this again.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Go in knowing that Yahaira’s Cafe is a bit on the…well…cozy side. Not a lot of seats, not a lot of space.
Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, but…
Like El Portal, it is sometimes Valet powered, though a Valet is always on duty. Lunch hours, when I went, the Valet is merely going to give you a ticket, and let you park yourself. You then take the ticket into the Restaurant, get it validated, and that makes parking free.
Again tip the Valet anyway. It’s been hot, and I wouldn’t want that guy’s job.
698 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101
Tel: (626) 844-3254
Monday: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
Tuesday-Saturday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sunday: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm