Check, Please! Bay Area is a show on our local PBS station, based on the original Check Please! in Chicago. A local host (Leslie Sbrocco, a wine expert and enthusiast) talks with three people about their favorite restaurants in the area. They all go to all three restaurants, and come say what they think. A few weeks ago, we saw an episode that mentioned Memo’s Restaurant, which is way out here in on the wrong side of the tunnel in the East Bay. I was especially captivated by what they had to say about the Chili Rellenos, because aside from my trips to Hola! in Burlingame, I don’t generally like rellenos. I find them too heavy, too rich, too fried tasting, too much cheese and not enough else going on. After going to Hola! and trying their Rellenos En Nogada, and then having Cherry tell me that she likes most rellenos, I gave them another chance at a tex mex place, and yeah. Blech. So hearing the guy on Check, Please! say that he doens’t like most rellenos, but he likes the ones here, I was intrigued and wanted to try them. I almost chickened out when we got there, but then I overheard a woman at another table saying that she thought they were the best rellenos she had ever had, and that at most restaurants they’re too heavy and greasy. So I went for it.
Boy, am I glad I did. I would go back in a heartbeat and order another. Really light, fluffy, and delicious. It seemed like the batter was barely there, light and airy. The sauce was my favorite, a tomatillo based sauce. The cheeses were delicious. Yum. I’m getting hungry right now, writing about it. My margarita was also quite good, mixed fresh, not from a machine. Yum. Ted ordered one of their other specialties, the Chicken Pepian (aka, Wedding Chicken), which was quite flavorful and complex. He really liked it, though he liked it better without the tortillas than with. Maya had a cheese and chicken quesadilla, which is an appetizer…she was worried that it wouldn’t be enough for dinner, but it was plenty big, and quite delicious. Ted then went on and ordered the chocolate cake, which is a vegan cake, with a wonderful sauce over it. To be honest, I didn’t really care for the texture of the cake, but Ted liked it quite a bit, and he was glad he gave it a try.
Memo’s is a family restaurant, run by a father and daughter, with old family recipes from Zacatecas, the region of Mexico from which the family hails. They both run the front of the house, taking orders and serving food. They are both friendly and charming. The only problem that we had with the restaurant was that they never came back to see how our food was. There were plenty of helpers going around, filling water glasses, clearing tables, but no one checking on you to make sure everything is to your liking. They were quite busy, it was a Friday night and there was a line outside when we left, but I think they would be well served to hire another waiter. I have a feeling we’ll go back, regardless of the questionable service. Yum.