by Mike Sula
At first the pair were just selling tamales, champurrado, and fruit, but eventually they joined forces with another couple, got the kitchen in full working order, and gradually added dishes to a menu that's become impressively broad for such a small operation: breakfast, mariscos, jugos, licuados, aguas frescas, quesadillas, burritos, gorditas, huaraches, tortas, tacos, and a full page of platillos, including chiles rellenos, enchiladas, steaks, fajitas, and more.
These days I rarely pass by Michoacanito without seeing at least one of its five tables occupied by someone hunched over a big, steaming bowl of something. The soups are popular, mostly caldo de pollo, its yellow depths concealing big chunks of chicken, chayote, potatoes, carrots, and ears of corn, or caldo de res, a sea of beef stock surrounding a towering island of tender beef. I've tried these soups and a few others, and frankly I don't get it. The solids are fine, but the soup itself is always pretty weak and bland. I've tried the gamier lamb soup too and found it be about the same, even with an added spike in chile.
What I've come to realize is that the best bets aren't usually on the menu at all but scribbled on a whiteboard on the wall.
When I ordered the verde I don't think they were prepared to reheat the meat during their three-table lunch rush, so they just submerged it in the deep fryer, carnitas style, which gave it a nice crunch, and then drizzled it with the thin, tart green salsa and a good measure of cactus strips. Both styles are a superb deal at $6.50.
I think we're living in a golden age of house-made tortillas. At Michoacanito, you have to ask for them, and there's a $3.50 upcharge, but they're thick, doughy, and warm, almost breadlike. A single quesadilla made on one of them was enough to vanquish a 15-year-old quesadilla conquistador of my acquaintance.
The tortas de tamal aren't on the menu—but you can still get them. The old tamale and champurrado coolers from back in the day are posted right in front of the window and send the signal that these folks haven't forgottten where they came from.