Posts tagged Tacos Burritos and More

Kalypsso Eclectic Latin Cuisine

Long, long ago in a land far, far away land…well more like a few years ago in Grants Pass, Oregon, a sweet and adorable grandmother opened a restaurant. It was a different sort of place. Most Grants Passians were not used to this style of food. See, grandma’s approach to traditional authentic Mexican cuisine comes straight from Mexico City. Simple, flavorful and spicy. Although grandma, also known as Tita, is shy and speaks little English, she is a pistol in the kitchen. At her side is her son Alan, a perfect complement to his mom. Alan and his mother are two of my favorite people in our small city and their restaurant is placed in my top three places to dine in Grants Pass.

“Tacos, Burritos and More” was the name of the first location. It was a very small place with only five or six tables. I believe I started out with tamales on my first trip in. One of my favorite dishes. The first thing I noticed was the heat. I don’t mean the indoor temperature, I mean the heat of the sauce. WOW! When you dine in an Americanized Mexican restaurant, nothing is spicy unless you ask for extra jalapenos or hope that the chef is hording some ultra secret habanero sauce in the back. Tita does not mess around. Her food is spicy, however you still leave with your taste buds intact.

I was also impressed with the beans. More of a whole bean refried bean always topped with a smattering of Cotija cheese. The rice is great as well. Also, nothing fancy which I love. I really tire of the standard mix of frozen veggies (including lima beans for God’s sake) folded into boring Mexican style rice. Sorry, I don’t like corn and green beans and the like mixed in my rice. And lastly noted was the absence of the standard chips and salsa. At first I thought this odd, but soon forgot about. One could order chips and salsa, however there is a small, small charge. Better than that, you can order chips smothered in a spicy green or mole sauce sprinkled with Cotija. Our personal favorite is the chips and guacamole. The guac is made to order with hot or mild depending your tastes. Yum!

Other delicious items I consumed over the first couple years were the fish tacos. Oh yeah. I love a good fish taco. These tacos are small but flavorful. You get two corn tortillas topped with house marinated and breaded fish, cabbage and a house dressing. Heaven! You can also have the same ingredients in a large burrito served wet or dry. I like mine wet with the spicy sauce. One of my standard orders is the chili rellenos. Oh my! A nice large chili stuffed with cheese, very lightly breaded and fried, topped with a spicy, almost broth like sauce. I have never had better. My next all time favorite is the huevos rancheros. These not only the best huevos I have ever eaten, but it’ll cure most hangovers in a heartbeat. These huevos are topped with that marvelous spicy green sauce. A perfectly fried eggs peaks from beneath the sauce. The tortilla is crisped to perfection. If you really need a boost you can order it with either bacon, ham or chorizo. I kid you not, these are the best huevos ever!

And let’s talk about her specials! Pork chops and potatoes braised in a creamy green sauce that are so tender you do not need a knife. Stews and soups so thick a spoon could stand on its own. Most of the specials I can not and will not attempt to spell or pronounce.

After some time passed, Grandma’s place really started catching on and the business outgrew the building. Fortunately, Alan being a savvy business man, procured the building directly across the street. The building got a new kitchen and some bright splashes of paint. Also, a new name, “Mi Ciudad Tita’s Mexican Restaurant.” Same menu with additions – even more choices – and the same fantastic food.

But wait, there’s more! To quote Alan, “The time has come to move on. There are at least 18 Mexican Restaurants in Grants Pass. Now, the good news, Tita can cook a wide variety of dishes some of you can never guess, so we are transforming the restaurant.” And voila, the “Kalypsso Eclectic Latin Cuisine” restaurant was born. Fortunately all the items from the old menu remained. VERY fortunately, the menu is much bigger and loaded with new items such as Saltados from Peru, Ropa Vieja Cuban sandwiches, Empanadas, Pupusas from El Salvador and much more. Oh joy!

If I thought I couldn’t like this place anymore then I did, I really fall in love with Kalypsso’s around late November of last year. A week before Thanksgiving, Dimples and I took the plunge into vegetarianism. We fretted over places to dine as we live in conservative-ville. Strictly your meat and potatoes sorta town. We love to dine out and knew we would have a hard time finding a place to suit our new needs. Tita did not fail us. At first we feasted on a couple of the regular menus items that were already vegetarian like the Vegetarian Sopes, thick corn tortillas topped with beans, lettuce, tomato, Cotija cheese, Mexican sour cream served with both a spicy guacamole sauce and a red hot sauce. We were not unhappy. After one or two trips in, we ended up discussing our new diet with Alan. He pointed out so many more dishes to try. Tita makes a tamale with cheese and jalapenos served wet or dry. Alan’s favorite way to eat these is after they are steamed, thrown on the griddle to crisp up and then top with either the spicy green or red sauce.

One time we offered them free advertising on a web site of ours. In return, Tita invited us to a vegetarian feast. I looked forward to this night all week long. We started with Alan’s handmade, hand-shaken margaritas over ice. First came a special dish grandma made just for the occasion. A Mexican squash filled with a thick slice of Cotija cheese and prepared like a chili relleno topped with a spicy light, broth like sauce. I simply could not believe this new taste sensation. As Cotija does not melt but softens, the texture was rich and smooth. I hummed the entire time. Second came a small plate of, well, a pile of stuff. Alan explained that though it sounded terrible, it was really good. It consisted of sautéed potato peels, onions and jalapenos melted with cheese. Alan seemed embarrassed to serve us potato peels, but we were delighted to eat it. We stuffed small corn tortillas with this wonderful odd mixture of deliciousness. Next came enchilada two ways. One with was stuffed with a jack cheese and topped with the green sauce, the other stuffed with crumbled Cotija and topped with a spicy mole sauce. After that and one more margarita, we shared a bean and cheese burrito. Doesn’t sound too special, but it was. Tita’s rice is cooked to perfection and not gooey like some rice can be. One bite into that burrito and the texture reminded me of ground beef. It was very hearty. If I am craving beef, I know I can get over that by having one of these fantastic burritos. Let’s see, after that, well we had one more margarita. I do not recall a dining expedition where I was so elated at the entire experience. After dinner, Dimples asked Tita if he could give her a hug. She accepted graciously.

I have had so many unbelievable dishes here. Green bean pancakes. Stuffed cauliflower prepared in the same fashion as a relleno. Rolled tacos filled with fried potatoes and jalapenos. Chilaquiles Caribenos which consists of corn chips covered in a red morita spicy sauce, sour cream, Cotija cheese and cilantro with black beans. Add carne asada to this or order it the way we do with two fried eggs on top. The cool yolk helps temper the heat.

Kalypsso may not be the fanciest joint in town and it may not have that “truck farm” feel to it as one of their local competitors have. If you like your hot sauce served to you by a guy in a hard hat with lights and buzzers holding the sauce in a bottle with a pair of tongs and some rubber gloves, then this is not the place for you. Kalypsso is not your average taco joint. If you want your food authentic and cooked with real flavor and spice, then please try it. If you know me, you know that I am a truly picky eater. I am a food snob and proud of it. I rarely boast about a restaurant with such shamelessness. Am I embarrassed that I’m gushing? Just a tad, but I am sincere. Let me just say that in all honesty for me, Tita’s food is cooked with such care and tenderness my tummy smiles with pleasure.

Gracias Tita and Alan!

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