La Casita Azteca...yes, it smells like Taco Bell
I've known for a while that you really shouldn't expect to find great Mexican food anywhere in Western MA or New England for that matter. Usually I go to La Veracruzana in Noho because it's easy, familiar and fairly consistent. Consistently mediocre. When I saw a new Mexican place opened in Easthampton I was skeptical that it would be anything more than flavorless beans, piles of melted cheese and iceburg lettuce. I have learned over the years though that sometimes great Mexican food can come from unusual locations, like a supermarket in Berkeley, CA.
I decided to look online for reviews of La Casita Azteca and didn't find any formal ones but saw 2 from random people who both said it was very good, authentic and that everyone they knew had raved about the place. So I decided to give it a try. I checked out the menu online and was surprised to see items like hoja santa and huitlacoche (a weird fungus that grows on corn), ingredients I've never seen on menus around here.
Inside La Casita Azteca it's small and I was the only customer. Granted it was 5pm and this place is fairly new, but it also was a Friday night so I was a little suspicious. I ordered posole, tacos de cazuela, tamale mole negro, tinga and chips/salsa to go. While waiting I was pleased to see that the kitchen looked clean and so didn't the rest of the place. After a few minutes passed I kept noticing the lovely sounds of a microwave beeping and the door of it slaming shut. Not a good sign. I expected my food to be ready pretty quickly since I was the only one in there, the tinga came off of a steam table and the microwave that must have been heating the rest of my order. I paced around starting to get worried about what I had gotten myself into. After about 20 minutes I finally got my food and rushed home in the freezing cold, starving.
Once home I ripped open the food and without my usual inspection began eating. Once I had a few bites to satisfy my incredible hunger I slowed down to have a peak. The posole, a classic pork and hominy soup, had a thick layer of fat on top and literally(this is no joke) smelled like taco bell hot sauce. I'm not exageratting. It was incredibly greasy and had no visible pork in it. The tamale was shalacked in a thick, dark mole which looked really good but was so incredibly dry that it did not at all taste like a tamale. It was like a REALLY dry cornbread. The mole tasted like a banana puree with a little chile in it. The beans that accompanied this were so flavorless it was amazing and the rice had clearly been heated multiple times so it was dry and crumbly. I tried the tinga and it was also surprisingly dry and flavorless for a slow cooked pork dish. I moved on to the tacos. In the menu description it mentioned pineapple so I was a little suspicious but was hoping it would resemble tacos al pastor, a pork taco cooked with pineapple. I was SO wrong. It was a mix of Mexican food and something you might find at a Trader Vics. The pineapple was clearly canned and still in its chunck form, there was a thick coating of cheese that clearly had been nuked in its styrafoam container to get it melt. The tortillas that came with it were dripping with grease. It was easily the worst thing I have seen in years. Terrifying. I don't even know how to describe the taste. Taco Bell meets a scorpion bowl.
To conclude, do not eat here. Not only was it inedible, I literally threw it all out, but it was overpriced. I spent around $35. Not that it mattered, but the portions were small also. Once again I spent the rest of the night dreaming of food from some long off city. Let down again...