The weekend. YESSSS…..Saturday was crazy hectic as Repentino. staff worked from bare minimum to pull of a concession for 12+ teams at ASF and walk away with a record success. They never fail to surprise, impress, and motivate me. Exhausted, yes, I couldn’t feel my feet around 3:00 PM and I knew dogs in waiting it would be a long afternoon, but a necessary one.
As soon as I hit Plaza Cabrera, and soaked in the warm sunshine, the day, being outside, I JUST happened to turn my had and no kidding. Yes it was true, what looked like to be a soon-t0-be restaurant equipped with cargo trailers, was open! PACKED. Tons of individuals, and it looked GREAT. Porco Rosso was open. This was Saturday. I literally jogged home, dropped the dogs off – headed back, and sauntered up to grab at first a request for a Pulled Pork Sandwich, which they were out of. I was kind of not surprised looking at every single picnic bench table empty. Then I grabbed the next best thing, the Brisquet sandwich. As I waited at the counter taking in the small gardens built into every picnic table, the cargo holds that were made to be serving counters, the butcher papers on tables that sometimes carried ribs, pulled pork, brisquet all together!, the ease of the customers, the friendliness of the servers, rooftop lettuce and other garden specialties growing, my glance fell on the menu. Wait a minute, actually, my eyes fell on the cups of Oreos that were being dropped in batter, then then menu and I saw the selection for deep-fried Oreo’s. DEEP FRIED OREOS. YES. Banana splits, ice cream and a WIDE range of options more for appetizers – this is truly Kansas City Barbecue at its finest.
As I left I looked back admiring the location of Porco Rosso, and realized, if the tables did become too full, the nearby Plaza Carbrera remedied that situation, Overall, you have to love how an establishment adds a little bounce into your step and on this day it certainly did. This sounds kind of minuscule but it seemed to make it all worth it. Amid this juicy sandwich dripping with just the right seasoning in its BBQ sauce, yes, in fact, that is right, Johnny Cash. A long list of Johnny Cash was playing and I sat there pretty much dumbfounded, I loved this very place, LOVED. The Saturday just was perfect with everything fitting into this very corner – and yet I would surprise myself again the next day.
Raving about the fact that this was finally open – I was able to connect with a colleague at ASF and sure enough, we headed back there the next day on Sunday to show this great find off. As we entered, it was rather early – maybe 12ish, and this time there were seats available. This allowed us to take the scenery all in, from the cool idea of plants that were tunneled in rows in the middle of the picnic tables, more classic country music that floated out that complemented the Kansas City Barbecue, and overall – it is was great all over again. Meeting the owners, how crazy was it that they were both ASF alumni? Sure enough, Pedro Ochoa and Robert Craig, both ASF alumni of 1998, and part of the first ASF Talks, were there and we began a dialogue of the ideas that became Porco Rosso over a three year period obtaining proper permits, paperwork, etc..
It was worth it. I clamored up the ladder to see produce growing and labelled on the roof of the cargo trailer, and could see into Plaza Cabrera, down onto the layout of the restaurant, and overall, it was great all over again. I watched as my college dove into a pulled pork sandwich and knew when I came back on Friday, the start of a puente, I was going to get the side orders of beans, several types of BBQ, and make it an all evening event. I simply could net get enough, and was thankful. There is something satisfying in seeing something so satisfying as a place where you feel at home, and meet people from a place you also have found a home. This is such a place. I figured this was a PERFECT sequel to the previous day, and the mouthwatering food factored as a huge part of it, but then accompany that with the return of individuals from ASF and it just all came together as a perfect puzzle.
Yet, surprises were just beginning. Later that day, as I sat catching up on some reports and reading, I received a text from Adi Alsaid, no, his new books as not out but he was at a Food truck event on the corner of Chapultepec and Morelia, and I thought, “What the heck?” Thinking this was one specific food truck he was supporting, I didn’t realize this was a whole lot of food trucks, music and overall festival! With a little perusing, I saw Adi, and no kidding right in the mix of things as a member of the servers. I thought, what does he NOT do? Young adult literature writer, assistant basketball coach, preparer of food, – would we see him in the luche libre ring next? I stepped up to the Kaiju Food truck and began to contemplate my order and decided on Cha Siu, which turned out to be Cha Siu over a bed of steamed rice (Gohan) with a soy and lime vinaigrette. I have to tell you, the sauce was think when done and looked, DELICIOUS. It was.
Right before approaching the Kaiju truck, I ran into two other colleagues, that told me Kaiju truck was the way to go, not the other trucks serving noodles as they were either way too salty, not salty enough, or a little on the bland side. I was pretty sure I made the correct choice. Just before I began to dive into my bowl, I started talking briefly with Adi and well yeah, of course Joshua Zoller and Sergio Rodriguez were for ASF too? I was a little like, wait. What? ASF too? I laughed more than I could explain inside and out, FOUR ASF alumni, both churning out the orders, and both very successful and great at what they were doing! I say GREAT because as I started to eat the Cha Siu, I realized, this was perhaps one of the best combinations, with the best sauce I could remember tasting. The rice was perfectly soft, perfectly appetizing, and well perfect. I really mean it, I inhaled that with chopsticks in less than 6 minutes and instantly wanted more. Now all I have to do is try to find how how I can find them amid the next food truck bazaar 🙂 the speed and service was phenomenal despite being surrounded by a closing crows similar to Woodstock, and till the food was fast, healthy, and DE freaking licious.
When I look back at the day, I couldn’t help but relish the success I could see for these four (FOUR IN ONE DAY!) alumni with the establishments they started. Their attention that the customers needs, the food they prepared and served, as well as their commitment to being the best among-many-faces-of-competition, you simply have to give both of these a try to even realize what an experience both were in the area of success, on MANY levels.
Now you know you are thinking it, and I will just I’ve in. Is there room for two quality BBQ establishments such as Pinche Gringo and Porco Rosso? Both are mouth-watering but each has its own style, and yet, both make you feel comfortable in a totally different way. Pinche Gringo allows me to walk in and I expect to hear the classic, “NORM!” from Cheers, that is the feeling you get, sporty, clubby, and a welcome site as well with great accompanying food, especially when you are pumped up for a sporting event, want to see familiar faces, and be as close to being in your living room enjoying delicious BBQ (and lots of it) as well as being entertained. Pinche Gringo no doubt stirs and satisfies your appetite and allows you to be thankful for this very idea in Mexico City. They cover you for Thanksgiving, are a different taste than Porco Rosso , have great people at the helm, great ideas and model the inventive spirit. I was and am grateful to have been invited to their openings, and overall, the have definitely easily “carved” a place in Mexico City, and rightly so.
Walking into Porco Rosso, you do not necessarily feel the “home” internal stirrings like a sports bar or living room that you feel in Pinche Gringo, but no need. The feeling of being around a lot of other people that also just like being around each other (as a sort of communion among everyone), soaking in the sun, relaxing to nostalgic and classical music that goes along with the mouth watering choices you have, this is a priceless experience. You can almost see yourself putting your legs up without doing so, and that feeling doesn’t leave you during the whole visit. Each of these four entrepreneurs have created masterpieces that appeal to those familiar with Kansas City style BBQ, yet delicious enough to supplement the desire for good ‘ol Texas BBQ. As my colleague said, when you have a napkin covered by sauce, left over from the sauce, then you know it is good, and no doubt, you will find there is plenty remaining for you to relish the richness and appetite-inducing selections you will find here.
The hardest part was not ordering this past Sunday (conserving resources), but only revved up the excitement that Friday will be BBQ Day for me! (AND ) I would make up for lost time with so many enticing selections. The chances of meeting someone that was school alumni, four times as great was unexpected, but I have to say, those unexpectations were were exceeded every time with the service and great experiences.