The nearly two-month old restaurant Casa Carmen is part of a family owned restaurant empire, El Bajío founded in 1972 by Raúl Ramírez Degollado and Alfonso Hurtado Morellón. Since then Carmen “Titita” Ramírez Degollado opened and run eighteen restaurants in Mexico (Casa Carmen being the first outside of Mexico). The cuisine is primarily focused on the food of Veracruz, Oaxaca, Puebla and the Yucatán. Two of her grandsons, Santiago Ramírez Degollado and Sebastián Ramírez Degollado, who live in New York, opened this homage to her.
This restaurant is elegantly rustic with clay pots lining up one wall and a large communal style table in the front of the restaurant by the bar. (The decor reminds me of the upscale Mexican restaurants I’ve eaten in Mexico City’s Polanco neighborhood.) We started off the evening with maracuya (passion fruit) margaritas on the rocks rimmed with chili salt. These cocktails were very tasty and perhaps a little too easy to drink.
Here’s what we ate:
- Fluke Ceviche Verde
- Tostadas de Pato en escabeche
- Tacos de pulpo al mojo de ajo
- Tacos de lengua (tongue)
- Enmoladads Xico con pollo
- Camarones en salsa negra (seen below)
- Chamorro en adobo – Slow cooked pork shank, adobo, refried beans
The ceviche was made with the fish of the day, which was fluke when we’re there, and it was delicious. It’s refreshing but not too acidic since it tasted like the tomatillo was the base than lime juice, and I enjoyed the hint of jalapeño. The tostadas de pato en escabeche is definitely one of the “must order” dishes. The luscious duck meat was rich but the overall bites with the tostada and refried beans didn’t feel too heavy.
Both tacos were delicious in its own right. The tongue was beautifully cooked. It’s rich and tender and when you hit it with a few spoons of their house made spicy salsa verde and smoky salsa roja, it’s sublime. The octopus (pulpo) tacos were fantastic and I definitely the garlic (in a very good way).
Of the three main courses we had the most unique one (to me) was the camarones en salsa negra. The large prawns were very fresh and cooked perfectly but what really appealed to me was the hauntingly smoky salsa negra that covered the prawns. The charred chipotle peppers that’s pureed with piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar), cinnamon and other spices that I can’t really pick out. I never had shrimp served as such hence my fascination. The other two main courses, chamorro en adobo and enmoladads xico con pollo, were very good and the sauces for the respective dishes were rich and delicious that I would wipe the dishes clean with a fresh corn tortilla.
114 Franklin St
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (917) 540-5500