THE CUISINE SCENE

Brenda

Hill


 


1/24/08
The Cuisine Scene
Brenda Hill

Frijoles Mexican Food
Beaumont, CA





When David Schuelke took over ownership of Frijoles Mexican Restaurant in Beaumont last year, he instituted his own motto: “Less food prepared more often.”

What that means to you and me is that no matter whether we drop in for lunch or dinner, the food will be freshly prepared. No leftovers from lunch are served for dinner, not even the beans or rice. So when Sheila and I dipped into the guacamole, the avocado tasted so fresh it could have just been picked from the tree. Best of all, the guacamole had no commercially prepared additives to stretch the dip, so all I tasted was avocado with a hint of tomato and perhaps a little onion and spices.

We also sampled their regular salsa, and something new to me, their ceveche.


Also spelled with an 'i' ceviche is a seafood salsa, dip, or salad prepared with a base of citrus juices, usually lemon or lime or a combination of both. Believed to have originated in Peru, raw fish is the traditional main ingredient used, and the citric acids cook the fish to a perfect texture for the salsa. David, however, has Americanized the dish so it pleases the senses as well as the palate with cooked crab and chunks of avocado. With one of his chips cut from handmade tortillas, I dug in and tasted a multitude of flavors: a base of tomato, tart citrus juices, creamy avocado, spices, and finally, just a hint of jalapeno so I could enjoy the bite instead of suffering from the burn. Another theory holds that ceviche is a Pacific Islander food brought to Mexico and Latin America in the early fifteen-hundreds. But whoever is responsible, I’m grateful, as it’s a delicious dip, a delightful change from regular salsa, especially the way David prepares it.



Always looking for the ‘Wow’ factor, he, along with his wife, Emeline, and Eva, Jade and Yesenia, his kitchen staff, prepares dishes from old recipes and always uses first-class ingredients.


(L-R Eva, Jade, Yesenia, David, owner)

When Sheila and I entered the restaurant, the first thing we noticed was a rotisserie loaded with three chickens.



While David serves quarter- and half-chicken dinners, he uses chunks of the rotisserie chicken for his tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and taco salads. His tortillas are handmade, and he braises the pork in-house. Even the sauce in his dessert is made from a richer, upscale chocolate.   

After the salsas and guacamole, David brought several dishes for us to try. First were chicken taquitos, and I asked exactly what they were. Chicken tacos rolled in flour and fried, he explained, topped with lettuce and tomato with a side of sour cream and guacamole. They had a wonderful crunch, yet I could still taste the chicken.



I asked about the chicken, so David brought two quarters fresh from the rotisserie. I was happy to discover the chickens hadn’t been coated with heavy sauces. Instead, David said he used a little fruit juice to give it a nice color.

Emeline graciously served some of their specially-mixed cole slaw and I tasted a hint of pineapple instead of a ton of sugar. What a refreshing change.



Sheila and I sampled a platter of beans, rice, a chile relleno, chicken enchilada, a pork tamale, and a chicken verde burrito with a wet sauce. The enchilada had been made with their rotisserie chicken and topped with diced green onions and black olives.



While it was all very good, my favorite was the burrito with a wet sauce of chile verde. Verde, I discovered, is green in French, Italian and Spanish, although each nationality usually prepares their sauce with different ingredients. Parsley, basil, green onions and olives are the basics for the Italian version, while the French may add anchovies and olive oil. They may all taste very good, but nothing quite beats the Spanish version. Tomatillos, which are Mexican green tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and green chilies are the usual basis for chili verde sauce. I don’t know exactly what David uses in his sauce, but it was perfect for the burritos, spicy and flavorful without making my eyes water. Topped with slices of avocado, it was excellent.

Sheila’s favorite was the pork tamale, made from braised pork and Frijoles’ own cornmeal dough.

But we weren’t through. David said we had to try the fried ice cream. Even though I didn’t think I could take one more bite, when he presented the dish, there was no way I could pass it up. Talk about eye candy. Sitting on a plate was a puffed fried tortilla holding a scoop of French vanilla ice cream rolled in a special homemade coating, then deep-fried until it was crispy. A huge layer of whipped cream topped the ice cream and spurts of chocolate sauce topped the whipped cream.  



Although standard chocolate sauce would be acceptable by some restaurant owners, David, in his quest for the best, uses a gourmet chocolate. While Frijoles is a more recent venture, David has been in business for over twenty years, owning a Mexican, burger, and a coffee house in the Cabazon Outlet.

At Frijoles, dress is casual and the prices are reasonable. $1.69 for chips & salsa, 3.99 for chips and guacamole. Rotisserie chicken dinners with 2 sides range from $5.89 for a 1/4 chicken to $7.89 for a 1/2 chicken. 2 beef taquitos with guacamole is $2.29, and for three, with guacamole, lettuce, tomato and sour cream is $3.39.

The chile relleno with beans, rice, and cheese is $5.59, and an all pork chile Colorado supreme with cheese, sauce, onions and olives is $6.89.

All plates are $5.89 and include rice and beans, and are offered with your choice of chicken, meat, or cheese enchilada, or you could have a taco, tamale, or chile relleno. A combination of two items is $7.89. 

Also offered are a la carte items such as a chicken, pork, or beef taco salad for $6.59, and an enchilada is $2.99. They also have quesadillas, tostadas, and nachos. Now they've added hamburgers, cheeseburgers and fries to their menu.

Domestic and Mexican beers are available, and they sell whole chickens to go. They also do catering.

Beaumont, which is French for beautiful mountain, was discovered in the early 1850s by an expedition from the U.S. government searching for a pass to connect the East to the Pacific Ocean. Banning served as a stagecoach stop. If food from Frijoles had been served to the passengers, I doubt anyone would have wanted to leave and the West Coast would still be a wilderness.

Frijoles Mexican Restaurant
652 E 6th St
Beaumont, CA 92223
951-845-5200
Monday-Friday 11am-8:30pm
Saturday 11am-8pm