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The Gossiping Gourmet: Chow down here three times a day

December 18, 2012|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • The Three Amigos enchilada platter, which includes the ribeye with smokey tomato sauce, left, the braised pork with green sauce, center, and the roasted chicken with mole, at Eat Chow in Newport Beach on Monday.
The Three Amigos enchilada platter, which includes the… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Eat Chow is a funky little place with no décor to speak of, but some pretty tasty food. This is their second location. The first is their popular Costa Mesa spot, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. This one is tucked away on a small street just off Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach.

Saturday and Sunday, the breakfast crowd spills out into the street. The place is almost always quite busy, but though there are no reservations, you can call ahead and see how long you might have to wait.

The menu can best be described as American and Mexican, with a couple of other cuisines tossed in. The Mexican sauces are exceptional, very authentic and some of the best we've tasted. The lunch menu and the dinner menu are the same, so you'll find lots of interesting sandwiches and salads, as well as small plates and "hot chow."

The soup of the day was leek and potato, which is usually very thick and creamy. Their version is much lighter and very flavorful. The base is chicken broth with a judicious amount of pureed potato and a texture that was slightly granular, which we found most pleasing. There couldn't have been more than a tablespoon of cream in the bowl. Crispy, browned, shredded leeks were strewn throughout, adding some crunch to this unique version of a peasant potage.

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The only dish of the evening that we can't recommend was fried green tomatoes. The tomatoes were too hard and had very little flavor, and the cornmeal crust was bland and gritty. The tasty, spicy aioli for dipping was not enough to save the day.

Our favorite selection was the tres amigos, three enchiladas with three different shredded meats and three sauces. All were stoutly stuffed. The mole sauce on the chicken enchilada was hands-down the best we've ever tasted. It was just amazing with its complex, dark spice seasoning, earthy flavor, underpinning of subtle sweetness and just the right amount of heat.

The tender, richly seasoned pork came with a mild green sauce, and the beef enchilada was moistened with a perfect red sauce that was thickened with chilies rather than tomato puree, again with a hint of sweetness to moderate the bitterness of the chilies. In true Mexican style, the tres amigos were drizzled with crema, rather than cheese, to allow the flavors of the sauces to shine through while adding a final softening touch. A very nice assortment of greens in a tasty dressing shared the platter.

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