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26 Dec 2012

Casa de Frida Aims to Take Mexican Fare to Another Level

Written by 
Chef Victoriano Rodriguez. Chef Victoriano Rodriguez.

With a menu of traditional Latin America-inspired fare and an interior filled with colorful Mexican folk art, one of Palm Springs’ newest restaurants strives to offer a dining experience that’s as vibrant and authentic as the artist it’s named after.

Casa de Frida, which takes its name from well-known Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, deals largely in homemade dishes from regions across Mexico, but there’s cuisine from Cuba, Venezuelan and other countries to be had as well. One dish is even described as "a Latino version of the French classic beef bourguignon."

The restaurant itself is somewhat of a shrine to Mexican art, with hand-painted tiles adorning many surfaces. Visitors are greeted at the entrance by a large papier-mache skeleton straight out of a traditional Day of the Dead celebration. Wooden masks, a huge stylized glass portrait of Frida Kahlo and other decorations complete the south-of-the-border vibe.

The food, however, is a far cry from what many diners think of when Mexican food comes to mind. There are no chimichangas covered in cheese and red sauce, nor are there quesadillas. At Casa de Frida, the focus is on dishes with items like rich mole sauce, or chile en nogado, a dish that hails from the city of Puebla and features pasilla chiles, walnut-cream sauce and pomegranate seeds.

"What we do here is a combination of recipes that my grandmother and my mother and basically all the women in my family have been making for years," says chef and part-owner Victoriano Rodriguez, who is originally from Sinaloa, Mexico. "Because of our heritage—French, Mexican and Spanish Castilian—the dishes are both traditional and, at times, unique."

Other dishes like tortilla soup, ceviche, enchiladas and several salads and starters are also available, as is a full bar and a medium-sized, yet ample, wine list.

Chef Rodriquez says the menu will change every three months and that he will be bringing in dishes from Peru, Brazil and other Central and South American countries.

"We’re trying to give American diners a chance to see how we really eat in Mexico," said Rodriguez. "We aren’t a restaurant with piñatas or tequila shots and beer signs. We try to be a little more gourmet and a little more aristocratic, without being pricey."

Casa de Frida, located at 450 S. Palm Canyon Drive, also has a weekday happy hour with drink specials and $6 small plates. Brunch is available on Sundays. For more information, call 459-1681, or visit www.casadefrida.com.

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