Ojai, California, March 30, 2016—
Look at this delicious combination plate you see here. Quetzal knows I've eaten lots of combination plates of "Mexican food": this time, for the first time, I realized I don't have to accept the usually insipid rice that comes on them. Brilliant! You can ask for twice as much beans instead, especially nice when, as here, two types are on offer: black beans and pintos.
The meat is carne asada, thin steak like that used for fajitas, perfectly seared on hot iron and flavored al diabla, said the menu — what female devil is that, I wonder: certainly not the very sweet middle-aged lady who smiled as we left, thanked us graciously for thanking her exuberantly, and even complimented me on my Spanish.
We were told the onions were an unusual addition to the plate. I'm sorry if that's the case: they were a wonderful keynote to the combination. Even the tomatoes tasted good, and the chopped parsley and cilantro had point and depth that lifted everything well out of the ordinary.
This isn't Mexican food, I think; it's Californio. It was doubly appropriate, as we've been driving through California ranch country that looks for the most part unchanged since a century ago, and we'd been out on a friend's avocado and citrus orchard. Rural, rustic, traditional; everything I like best. I'll get back here often as I can.
Jim & Rob's Fresh Grill, 214 West Ojai Avenue, Ojai; 805-640-1301