The Huevos Rancheros at Kitchen Mouse are terrible. No fried tortillas, not even dipped in oil, just boringly warmed up. Black beans underneath. An ungodly amount of vegan “cheese”, when regular cheese doesn’t even have a place in HRs, so why bother? Worst of all is their “enchilada sauce” when it should be a ranchero sauce.
If you’ve ever microwaved a frozen Trader Joe’s enchilada dish out of hunger and desperation at work, then you’ll know exactly what this tastes like. It’s that goopy texture of flour and binders, the acrid taste of chile powder instead of chiles, and lots of cumin. It may be a slight nod at the red sauces from the American Southwest, which can be really good when prepared with attention and care, but nope, not here. This tastes like some canned shit people have grown accustomed to consuming, nostalgic flavors from an era when you bought taco shells in a box. Nothing I can truly understand, but hey, some people will eat it. It’s Mexican food for our guero friends.
Even though the eggs were cooked proper and the pepitas were a good touch of texture, the cabbage slaw points to the fact that this dish is an abomination.
In total, this thing is a slog, don’t waste your time.
They have some decent breakfast dishes that I’ve had before. This veg mushroom sausage I ordered as a side is very tasty. Now that I’ve got the important stuff out of the way, on to the real story.
Godamn is this place disconcerting. It’s in Highland Park, long a home for a good mix of various peoples, but at this place you quickly realize it’s mostly frequented by White folk. I have no problem being the only POC in some white dominated space in a white dominated town, that’s just a fact we grow accustomed to. But I’ve been doing stuff in NELA for over 25 years and find this scene a little too homogeneous for the neighborhood. Umm, okay. Nobody finds that just a bit weird?
I do. Especially since I’ve also worked on the Westside and even there you have a decent mix of people in restaurants. Sure, you get lots of our gabacho friends, but not exclusively. Kitchen Mouse is an odd beacon right now, calling to the new residents, making them feel safer here than anywhere else. Is Kitchen Mouse somehow also putting out an unintentional force field to the people of color in the community? I really don’t know but I sure as hell felt something.
The workers at Kitchen Mouse (even the gringo busboys!) have always been friendly and welcoming, so I am at a bit of a loss as to explain why this place mostly attracts people of pallor. Yeah, it’s a bit pricier than other places, but still, there should be some diversity present, no? But there’s very little. Need I remind you this is IN HIGHLAND PARK.
Yeah, there was that mom with her petulant kid that gave me the ol’ dismissive body language when I was taking the one open table next to her family in this way-too-popular-for-no-good-reason eatery. (Don’t worry lady, I certainly would not chose to sit by you either.) But that shit is par for the course, an individuals distaste for the person I am is just another lovely bead I collect for later use. Something else is going on here, if someone figures it out let me know!
It’s depressing when you go in for breakfast but can’t help feeling like an other in your own terrain, in an area where you have history, when you just can’t ignore the forest for the trees. But that’s gentrification for you: Nobody gives a fuck about your feelings.
Things I still don’t understand: waiting forever to order food, spending extra on mediocre food, waiting forever to receive mediocre food, eating mediocre food while listening to precious children shriek cuz they’re too precious to be quieted.
Things I might now understand: maybe that’s the price of admission to the club I want no part of?
It’s a bad plate of HRs in a place that reminds you of what this city has lost.
Kitchen Mouse 323.259.9555
5904 N. Figueroa St.
Highland Park, CA 90042