As often happens in the world of food and restaurants, the information written down years before had become irrelevant by the time a visit was made. Previously this corner had been home to a deli with the name of Cuernavaca Morelos, presumably the city and state in Mexico that the owner had come from. In preparation, I had looked through the famous dishes from the state and tried to have a game plan for ordering something special, rather than the normal bodega tacos.
As you can see, the new incarnation is named Nicholas, and through some conversations I gathered that the chef is from Tlaxcala, a small state east of the capital and north of Puebla. Glancing through the menu, I was a bit stumped and only found the regular set of antojitos.
For Morelos, I was prepared to order mole verde, a dish first consumed in Oaxaca but now popular in many places where small changes in recipes made for completely different versions over time. Still in the mood for it, I asked if this was available and was delighted to affirm that it was. I took a seat at the one table available and waited.
Once seated, a quick survey of the counter and menu above the kitchen shows that this place can be much more sophisticated than its small menu suggests on paper. Besides the mole verde ($10, above), there was mole poblano and other large plates of food.
What eventually arrived in about ten minutes was a simple looking meal on a real plate, with a side of red beans. The first bite confirmed with an instant spicy zing that this was a successful order. The mole verde was thick and complex, covering small pieces of tender chicken. The beans are full of fat and flavor. It was apparent that this small kitchen deserved another visit, as the dishes in front of me were completely cleaned when I finished.
Some months later I was back and waiting at the same table and its changed but still floral tablecloth, this time for an order of mole de olla (below), a rich spicy stew of chiles, herbs, and vegetables. The version here is served with big chunks of beef and submerged green beans. A bowl of cilantro, onions, and limes comes on the side so that each patron can make the soup their own.
Just to round out the spectrum, an order of two tacos was made. On weekends, they make barbacoa de chivo ($3.50, below right), so that was essential for one of them, and cecina ($2.50, below left) made the second. Neither meat did that much, and just confirmed going off menu for the prepared foods was a smarter way to go here. The chef is talented if she gets the chance.
The makeshift tip jar is full of candies and other assorted items, but each visit necessitated a deposit of bills to show the great appreciation for this modest kitchen's good work. For anyone with the money to start a restaurant, this might be a good chef to talk to to run the kitchen.