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It’s a fiesta at Casa Cocina

Jul 29, 2003 3:28 AM

The Cannery Casino & Hotel’s Casa Cocina restaurant recently updated its menu with several new selections. Casa Cocina, which translates roughly as home kitchen, is appropriately named as it continues to offer homemade, south-of-the-border specialties.

"Our new items complement our existing menu," said Luc Akellino, executive food and beverage director. "We attain authenticity by preparing our menu items from scratch and we have chosen the dishes to reflect the diversity and complexity of Mexican cooking."

The Casa Cocina chefs create all items ”” from the salsas and sauces to the guacamole and chile verde ”” each day. After several months of testing and tasting, the new menu items were introduced.

The selections were added to each section of the menu ”” fajitas, chicken, pork, and beef specialties. The new items include fajitas de carne de puerco abodabo ($9.95), slowly braised and citrus marinated pork sautéed with bell peppers, cilantro and spices. Another new fajita dish is el grande combinacion fajitas ($12.95), which is a combination of marinated and sautéed pork, beef, shrimp and chicken.

New entrees include the burrito de pollo ($8.95), a large flour tortilla stuffed with chicken and topped with Casa Cocina’s special red sauce, or chimichanga de pollo ($8.95), another flour tortilla stuffed with chicken and deep fried to a golden brown. Casa Cocina has also added the flauta de puerco ($8.50), a large flour tortilla filled with pork and served with red sauce, and a chimichanga de puerco (8.95), a deep fried flour tortilla stuffed with pork.

For steak lovers, Casa Cocina has added a 12-ounce New York strip steak called steak ranchero con tres quesos ($10.95), a pan-seared steak finished with a combination of ranchero and verde sauce and melted cheddar Monterey Jack and queso blanco cheeses. Additional steak dishes include the steak picado ($11.95), diced New York sautéed with bell peppers and red chile sauce.

The chefs have also created new appetizers for diners to enjoy. A Mexican shrimp cocktail, called Casa Camaron Cocktail, combines a mix of chilled shrimp, cucumber, onion, cilantro diced tomato and jalapeno tossed in a spicy tomato cocktail sauce ($6.95). The ensalada de steak ranchero ($7.95) is a flour tortilla bowl filled with salad greens and topped with thinly sliced New York steak.

Guests can still indulge in such house specialties pollo al chipolte with smoked jalapeno peppers, or classic mole poblano, which is sautéed chicken with several different chiles, spices and a hint of abuelita chocolate as well as fresh guacamole made fresh at the table. Each meal includes a choice of albondigas or tortilla soup.

To conclude the meal, Casa Cocina offers the Mexican Banana Split. This signature dessert is a fresh banana wrapped in a flour tortilla then deep fried to a golden brown, rolled in cinnamon and sugar and served with cinnamon ice cream, chocolate and strawberry sauce, and whipped cream.

At the bar or tableside, Casa Cocina guests can also enjoy Mexican beer or the finest rums; but it is the margaritas that will keep guests coming back. Strawberries, peaches, mangoes, melon and Granny Smith apples combined with Cuervo Gold tequila, create so many margarita varieties that it’s difficult to tally. Served on the rocks or frozen or with or without salt, Casa Cocina margaritas are the best way to beat the heat.

The 100-seat Casa Cocina is open daily between 5 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday.