By Kathleen Horner
A varied menu features beachy favorites at Alcalde on the Beach, El Surf Club's new pop-up until April 15. It's the latest and last pop-up of the season, and this is a treat to enjoy over a lazy afternoon or a lingering sunset.
While most of the menu is all about the grill, there are exceptions. Start off with shellfish. The fresh oysters are tender with just a hint of brine. Ever the poet, my husband (celebrating his birthday once again), called them "a gentle taste of the sea." Also ask for the local clams grilled over embers ("las brasas"); served lightly diced on the half-shell. A squeeze of the grilled lemon half enhances the slightly smoky taste.
Tlayuda de Atun is a Oaxacan dish: fresh slices of locally-caught tuna and a layer of refried beans top a crunchy, blue corn tostada. Slices of avocado, micro-greens, and a splash of soy and sesame seeds complete the dish, which is a bit awkward to shareso don't.
Humus Sikilpak (Mayan toasted pumpkin seed) dip is served with lightly grilled pita bread quarters. The two flavors blend well in this lightly spiced, rich, and colorful dish. Do not miss the beet salad. The beets, wrapped in foil, roast on the grill for hours and they have a mild ember-roasted taste that stands up quite nicely to the pesto and cotija cheese.
Two fabulous preparations join together in the Flank Steak Arrachera Zarandeada "Con Sus Amarres." Arrachera marinade blends adobo flavors with lime and garlic. Zarandeada, native to the state of Nayarit, is a seasoning of chilis, onion, garlic, and lime. The full-flavored beef is grilled tender and sliced, served with flour tortillas.
A fine finish to the menu is a leveled-up version of rice pudding (arroz con leche), creamy and rich, topped with a cinnamon crunch, a scattering of puffed rice, and vanilla ice cream. It's what rice pudding should be.
Apologies for using the word "grill" or "grilled" ten times to describe Alcalde on the Beach (yes, it's all about the gr***)but this is a beach party you don't want to miss at El Surf Club.