Of all the Mexican meat dishes that I love, any Chile Colorado done well would always catapult to the top of the list. Not many places do it well, but the chile Colorado at Casa Vega is simply excellent. The red “Colorado” sauce is generally tomatoes, green chiles, jalapeno. chopped onions and celery, beef stock or bullion, and sometimes a few sundry ingredients to your taste or historical precedent. The core of the dish is meat chopped into hearty chunks (cubed), braised and slow-cooked. Casa Vega’s Chile Colorado plate has generous portions of perfectly tender beef in a rich and savory red chile sauce, lauded by a whopping notion of Spanish rice and cheese-topped refried beans. It is awesome; perhaps the best dish Casa Vega serves. In fact, I want some right now. Too bad I don’t live in Studio City and don’t have an appointment to see Jay Leno.
The Spot: Casa Vega, Studio City CA
If you can deal with the boisterous, noisy, margarita-dosed crowds and mediocre service at best, Casa Vega can be a fun place to hang with friends. (Really, the service needs a new manager to train the whole staff…it’s just too slow.) It’s generally better (safer) to drink there than to eat, but some dishes (like the chicken mole) are worth the poor service. For Mexican fare, especially in a city with great Mexican food like Los Angeles, Casa Vega is pricey and not your best value. But Casa Vega is about fun; it’s an old-school restaurant. Launched in 1958, its walls are peppered with dark Mexican-themed paintings that are nearly 40 years old. I don’t think it’s changed much since its opening, so that’s what you’re paying for. There’s not much old-school respect in L.A. so you can find more quirky places like this in the Valley. Margaritas are pretty great, as is the people-watching. There are always odd celebrities in the joint, and a curious cross-section of Angelenos.
The Grade: Excellent (probably my favorite Chile Colorado in the L.A. area)
The Damage: ?
The Skinny: Casa Vega, 13301 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Phone: (818) 788-4868
Hours: Mon – Sun, 11:30 am to 2:00 am
No reservations! (That means go early or drink often whilst you wait)