Abbot-Kinney's new Casa Linda is a little like President Obama. We liked it from the get-go simply for replacing the unappetizing version that came before it. While it might not be the seaside incarnation of Rivera some had craved, Casa Linda is ambitious enough to cook traditional Mexican eats using healthy ingredients. Meats come chemical-free, beans are served sans lard, and even tortillas are organic. The menu is all recognizable, with seafood cocktails, chicken mole, sautéed octopus, crab enchiladas, barbacoa, and the usual cast of tacos, tamales, and tortas. The light food and contemporary space are nicely balanced between the spirit of Alegria or Homegirl Café and the authentic hole-in-the-wall dishes of Tacos Por Favor, who treads the healthy path close by.
The biggest magnet for Casa Linda, though, is the authentic treatment of their pastor. Chef Manuel Mares, who also cooks a few doors down at Hal's, uses a family recipe and prepares the pork on a pineapple-topped spit, a truly rare addition to this side of town. We can't think of any Westside places that do pastor in this way, gloriously recalling the schwarma influence that came to Mexico from the Middle East and inspired this standard.
"We replace it two times a day" says Mares, excusing the scant remains that make up the above photo. With touches like this, Casa Linda is giving Abbot-Kinney a Mexican restaurant it can take some pride in. It won't be long before we forget the name of the last spot that stood in its place. You know, uh, what's its name? Casa Linda 1357 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice, CA 90291