My favorite place in the South Bay for Happy Hour. Always a good time!
Met my girls there 2 weeks ago to surprise them with engagement news!
+ The drinks are really well made. I love the orange-vanilla bean caipirinha, the mojito martini, and all the sangrias. The beau is a fan of their pisco sour.
+ Half-off tasty appetizers like chorizo, calamari, queso, black bean dip (my favorite!), and house-made guac. Splurge and get their paella.
+ Our server was awesome! He even surprised me with a molten chocolate cake! When we sit at the bar, the bartenders have always been great, too.
For 3 years, I've wanted to try this place. Finally, my fabulous friend Cameron sets up a double date for dinner (spoiler: this place is fantastic for groups). Then, BAM! two weeks later and I get to go again. 3 years, zip. Two weeks, 2x. Isn't that how it goes sometimes?
ATMOSPHERE: chic, too loud, and always busy. seriously always. make reservations whether or not it's a saturday night or a wednesday night. the first time, our waiter was super attentive, friendly, and all around awesome. second time our waiter was aloof, forgot our drinks, not so friendly, and hardly around. so... hit or miss with the service. both times, party of 4... both times, our bill was in the 200s or so. kinda pricey. oh, and did I mention it was too loud?
FOOD: I provide you, fellow Yelpers, with ingredients and review
Queso Fundido (Oaxacan cheese and smoked mushroom fondue, grilled poblano chiles, warm corn tortillas) was kick butt. Hot, gooey cheese with 'shrooms and chilies all wrapped up into your own mexi-melt. Even though this was quite the good food for a cold day, I'd prefer ordering the chips n' dips. Not only do you get the queso fundido, but you also get the best black bean dip I've ever had, and Cascal's house guac + chips. It was the highlight of my second dinner.
Beef Shortrib Adobo (Mexico City style braised beef shortrib, red onion-cilantro salad, fresh corn arepa) was praised by all. Meat was falling off the bone and it had intense flavor.
Mexican "Sopes" (Duo of chicken picadillo and Cuban roast pork with mole verde, fried plantain) is a great order and I'd recommend it, even though it's A) hard to split between 4 people or more, B) messy, C) got a lot going on so the flavors kinda get lost and mingled together
Albondigas (Spicy Moroccan style lamb meatballs, piquillo pepper and smoked paprika sauce) was devoured and loved by the lamb eaters at our table. i, sir, am not a lamb eater.
Beef Kabob (Marinated beef brochette, Rioja wine, smoked paprika, garlic, grilled vegetables) was flavorful beef (though not as tender as the shortribs) and perfectly grilled (read: not soggy) veggies on a stick. A worthy substitution to the lamb.
Shrimp Tostaditos (Crisped corn tortillas topped with fresh Dungeness crab, shrimp, chipotle aioli, guacamole, shredded romaine) is hands down my FAVORITE small plate at Cascal's. The shrimp are cooked perfectly and soo juicy and steamed "crunchy" (not breaded, but not overcooked shrimp). The tostaditos are piled high and all the ingredients are fresh, fresh, fresh. A delight for your mouth.
Brazilian Moqueca (Fresh salmon and rock shrimp in spicy coconut and corn broth, saffron, bell peppers, green rice) is a Thai-like dish. It was pretty.
Spanish tapa sampler included: Serrano ham, eggplant tian, seafood salad, marinated shrimp, Serrano ham wrapped stuffed dates, tuna escabeche, mussels vinaigrette, Spanish tortilla, paella roll, chicken liver mousse, fried almonds, olives, anchovy tapenade, Spanish chorizo, deviled eggs, Manchego cheese & quince. I WOULD NOT ORDER THIS AGAIN. Not a good idea. All the stuff on there was meh. It's A LOT more fun and the small plates are all so much more delicious than anything on this sampler. The sampler was also overpriced, IMO.
Peruvian Ceviche (Fresh halibut marinated, fresh lime juice, red onion, fresh ginger, chili arbol, sea salt) is very, very well made here. I have a friend who would be more than happy to just come to Cascal's, order this, and perhaps, eight Caipirinhas and call it a good night.
Paella Cascal (Saffron rice, chicken, pork, chorizo sausage, shrimp, mussels, clams, smoked paprika sofritto, peas, piquillo peppers) is the BEST paella I've ever had. I think it's because of the chorizo.
Caipirinhas (The national cocktail of Brazil, premium Leblon cachaca, which is distilled juice of sugar canes, muddled fresh limes, sugar) are very strong here. They're like Brazillian mojitos. I like them a lot and can't wait to try the other variations of the Caipirinhas.
House Made Sangria (Sparkling with fresh citrus, apples, brandy, spices, and triple sec) was one of best sangrias I've ever had. I am so super stoked to learn that you can make sangria with sparkling wine! Time to copycat.
Last word of advice, stick with the drinks menu and ignore the bland desserts.