Many CliffDwellers remember Casa Francisco on Jefferson at Tyler, and who could forget the recent Loretta’s that followed? Unfortunately both of these popular neighborhood eateries closed their doors due to hard times. We’re hoping that the third time is a charm now that La Aldea opened in the same spot, three months ago.

The inviting eatery’s atmosphere is simple yet sophisticated. Owner Ana Castillo, Chef Lilia Morales and Manager Celso Aguirre are neighbors in the Westmoreland area. Although they met each other in Oak Cliff, they all have histories in Veracruz, Mexico. After months of talking about opening a restaurant, the three friends thought this the perfect location and got to work.

Just as the typeface in the window reads, Aguirre explains, “The food is regional from different areas of Mexico. The Alambres (open-faced-tacos) are from Yucatan and Veracruz. The mole dishes are from Puebla and the tacos with more toppings such as mushrooms and peppers can be found in Oaxaca,” he says, offering, “We have customers who request a certain type of food that they’ve tried while in Mexico and even if it isn’t on the menu, we’ll make it up for them.”

La Aldea does not have their alcohol license, but you are welcome to bring your own drinks or take them up on the offer of one margarita on the house. There are no Kids Menu items, but they will make things upon request, or serve half portions of any menu item for your smaller kinsfolk.
So, what’s to eat? For Starters on the menu, the Queso Flameado Don Lupe — Mexican-style melted cheese, sautéed mushrooms with a choice of grilled chicken or Longaniza (spicy sausage) — is definitely worth ordering. It’s large enough for five or six to share and has a wonderful blend of flavor.

Among the entrees, the Pollo Asado is a savory chicken breast that comes with the house salad and sautéed Nopales (cactus), which tastes reminiscent of both green beans and bell peppers. The Puerca al Chiltipin consists of a large, mouth-watering portion of pork cubes covered in Chiltipin salsa and served with rice and black beans. If you can handle the salsa’s high content of spice, we cannot recommend this dish enough.

Another tasty but hot meal is the Camarones al Chile Seco — eight jumbo (extremely large) grilled shrimp, cooked with chipotle sauce and served with rice and salad. The Enchiladas de Camaron contains a generous amount of smaller shrimp that make for a great little enchilada. In our humble opinion, La Aldea’s Enchiladas de Pollo should be rated somewhere in the top five in the city. And, the Torta al Pastor is the perfect lunch time solution. This large Mexican sandwich is marinated with spicy pork and served with tomatoes, cooked onions, chipotle peppers and avocado alongside homemade potato wedges.

La Aldea has a vast selection of excellent food for moderate prices, so the next time you begin to raise the question of why Oak Cliff should open another Mexican restaurant, go try La Aldea first.