Monday, September 24, 2007

Mini Foodventure #39: Brunch at Border Grill

As noted by my Twitter yesterday, my camera momentarily gave out during my brunch excursion at the Border Grill and had problems reading/saving to the memory card. It conveniently recovered at the end of our meal, but who wants to look at photos of roadkill on a plate? ;)

Nonetheless, my friend and I had our opinions of the place, so I'll do a quickie foodventure post on it.

We started off with two pint glasses of their house margaritas on the rocks (normally $7.75, but gratis for this trip - thanks to a reward offer from one of my credit cards,) which were very well made and fairly potent, and the salt actually made a difference in opening up the flavors! The fresh tortilla chips (served with three salsas) were a great pre-meal, during-drinks nosh -- we both decided we liked the salsa roja the best (they also had a salsa verde that's a bit watered down, and a dark red chipotle salsa that was too smoky for our palates.)

Then onto our brunch dishes: my friend had their Latin-American spin of Eggs Benedict ($12.50)- with poached eggs, citrus chicken, avocado slices and tomato salsa on top of corn tortillas, served with red & green Spanish rice and black beans on the side. I liked it a lot, the flavors were much more vibrant than the traditional Benedict & I love the refreshing salsa substitition for the heavy hollandaise. My only gripe is that the eggs were poached over medium/near hard, though my friend is fine with that since she hates runny yolks (but I did note that they were poached that way by default and not her special request.) Then again, corn tortillas are probably not as good as English muffin in soaking things up. The beans and rice duo were good but nothing to write home about (the black beans are paste-like as opposed to whole, not sure if they were merely mashed/pureed or refried).

My course, Steak Asada Tortas, was generally pretty good too. A slab of seared hanger steak pressed with guacamole, caramelized onion and roasted tomato in a housebaked bolillo roll, with a side of mushroom enchiladas. The combo of flavors were pretty amazing, a one-two-three punch of the onion's sweetness against the creamy guacamole and finally, the meaty tang from the steak & the tomatoes - all in a warm fluffy bread with a slightly crispy crust.

The downside of this sandwich was that the steak was too chewy - possibly from overcooking - so there were those awkward moments when I had to go into beaver-mode with my incisors to avoid tearing the whole steak out of the sandwich. While it's nice to see that they put a whole muscle in the sandwich, for logistical purposes I think steak slices/chunks make for much easier, and less messy, eating.

The mushroom enchiladas, however, were simply divine -- earthy, meaty sauteed mushrooms wrapped in a substantial corn tortillas then baked with a slightly-chocolatey mole sauce and just a smidgen of Latin-American cheeses. Unfortunately, they don't seem to serve this as a standalone menu item. The pretty-good sandwich and the so-frickin-good enchiladas combo ($14.50) are still worth ordering, but be prepared to use a knife for the sandwich and give your teeth a workout.

We finished off our meal with a few more cocktails - my friend had a kiwi refresca made with kiwi puree, agave syrup & sparkling wine and and I got a naranja picante margarita accented with orange & spiked with pepper ($12 each). We both liked our own drinks but didn't care for each others -- she liked the fruity and somewhat sweet taste of the refresca, I like that the cocktail is not too sweet, but to me it still tastes like cheap sparkling wine plus kiwi. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the citrusy kick of my margarita, whereas she said it tasted like "
Orange Energy Pine-Sol". Nonetheless, the drinks feel overpriced so not something we'd typically order outside of happy hour (or in our case, getting the first rounds free.)

So all in all, a fairly good experience though with a few kinks that could be improved upon; I would consider re-visiting when I am in the area (and hopefully with a functional camera.)

Also, kudos to the decor - with its bright, colorful wall & ceiling murals and boxy ceiling lamps, it gave off a wonderful artsy urban vibe that complemented well with its modernized Latin American cuisine.

Border Grill
1445 4th St
Santa Monica
(310) 451-1655


Shinae said...

Hello there,

I found you through elmo's blog (

Haven't tried Border Grill, but did try Ciudad and was disappointed, not to mention a little shocked at the maitre'd with the leather pants slitted all the way up the sides with what appeared to be very large safety pins placed every 4 inches. ;)

Hope you don't mind, but I'd like to share with you another blog where I share deals with friends and family and their friends and family:

If you know of any similar deals, would you please let me know? I'd be so very appreciative. :)

Look forward to keeping up with your culinary adventures,


glutster said...

Haven't been to Border Grill but Ciudad is pretty decent. I went there for my graduation dinner and had a Goat Milk Flan, unique but amazing.

Anyways, oh wasn't a total bust. I did hear that prior years were a lot better though. Oh well, maybe next year? But i'll MAKE SURE to research completely next time.

H. C. said...

Shinae - I've been to Ciudad too and liked that place too, but wow -- never got the leathery maitre'd. Interesting site you got there ~ will be checking it out from time to time. Deals are always good!

TG - Haha, there are lots of other "Taste of" events in the L.A. area -- with some of the other cities, they are definitely worth it!


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