Stanton, CA 90680
Listing on Yahoo! Local
I'd found out about this restaurant from Gustavo Arellano's Orange County's 61 best Latino restaurantes OC Weekly article (although I went to the Stanton location rather than the location in Fullerton that was mentioned) and checked out El Fortin's official website, and saw that grasshoppers were mentioned in numerous spots on their menu. What I didn't know is that I would end up actually eating some (my apologies to Jiminy Cricket).
Upon arriving at this inconspicuous establishment hidden near a corner of two little-used streets in Stanton mi hermano and I were greeted by Robert who was so personable we felt more like we were being welcomed into his home. I told him how I'd found out about his place and that I would be reviewing it for my blog and asked if I could take pictures and he said, "Go ahead!"
Robert then brought out the requisite chips and salsa but along with it also brought a cup of mole negro. I dipped the corner of a chip into it and tasted it and, while it was pretty good, I detected enough walnut presence to know that my walnut allergy wouldn't allow me to eat any. There's other items on the menu with nuts in them so people with allergies need to be careful. But there are plenty of items without nuts and Robert was very helpful with making suggestions.
El Fortin's menu focuses on food from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. On our server's recommendation I tried the Plato Especial, which included tasajo (salted beef round), a Cecina enchilada (spicy chile paste marinated, thinly sliced and fried), queso frito (fried cheese), Platanos fritos (fried plantains), a chile relleno, guacamole and black beans.
My brother ordered a plate of three quesadillas that ended up looking more like deep-fried tacos and were smothered in guacamole and hot sauce. I then went to their refrigerator and picked out a lime-flavored Jarritos brand soda. After taking our order to the cook in the back Robert came back to our table and asked if we'd like to try some grasshoppers. I asked if I could at least see them. He went to the refrigerator himself and took out a mixing bowl that must've been filled with two or three thousand little grasshoppers. I said, "I want to see you eat some first." So he popped one in his mouth and crunched away. I then poured some of my Jarritos into my glass so I could have something to wash it down with in case I didn't like it, then grabbed one, popped it in my own mouth and crunched away and it really wasn't so bad (yes, it is the whole grasshopper), almost like a cross between popcorn and shrimp . . . or maybe just like popcorn shrimp . . . with legs . . . and feelers. Do I get some sort of honorary mention on Fear Factor next week? I didn't order any item that had grasshoppers in it but would consider ordering a grasshopper quesadilla or taco next time.
While I love the Jarritos soda what I should've ordered but my brother did was their horchata, the funkiest I'd ever seen, which comes topped with chopped nuts (I believe Robert said they were pepitas [pumpkin seeds] but better make sure it's not walnuts, almonds, or pecans before I give it a try), melon syrup, and cactus fruit puree.
Overall El Fortin earns a four Speedy Gonzales rating:
UPDATE: "Elmo" from the Monster Munching blog requested a picture of the grasshoppers. Problem is, when you look at the bowl of them you can't even tell from three feet away what they are. When you take one out you see a little more detail, but not that much. Maybe I'll go back sometime and try to get some good grasshopper pictures. Until then, here's a picture off of their site: