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Mexican Dishes don't have to be spicy.
If you ask Carmen Herrera what real Mexican food is, the owner of El Sarape restaurant will tell you:
"It's like what my mom makes at home. It's the way my parents cook," said Herrera, whose mother and father lived in Mexico until they moved to Milwaukee in 1979. "Mexican food isn't hot and spicy. If you want it hot, you can make it hot with the sauces we give you." El Sarape diners who order the Lomo De Res En Chile De Arbol (chopped ribeye steak in chile de arbol sauce) are sure to feel some heat. Ditto for those who choose to start their day with Desayuno Especial (two sunny-side-up eggs and broiled ribeye steak also served with the peppery sauce).
Herrera and her husband, Albino, bought the former Jalisco Restaurant, 2030 E. Mason St., in June of 2000. "I worked at Jalisco's in Milwaukee since I was 13," Herrera says. That's where she met Albino, who came to work there after moving to milwaukee from Mexico around 1991. "Albino always wanted to have his own restaurant," Herrera says. "So when Jalisco's decided to sell the one in green Bay, we bought it. I'd only been to Green Bay once before, when I came to visit the Packer Hall of Fame." Many of Albino Herrera's specialities in the kitchen are unique to El Sarape. There are a variety of steak dinners, such as Bisteq con Rajas Y Queso (chopped ribeye steak seasoned with slices of poblano pepper, tomatoes and onions and topped with melted cheese) and Carne Asada a La Tampiqueña (butterfly cut skirt steak served with a cheese enchilada and guacamole).
Tacos, burritos and enchiladas can be filled with familiar choices, such as steak, pork, ground beef and chicken, or with some not-so-familiar choices, such as tongue or barbacoa. "Barbacoa is a big seller among Hispanics," Carmen Herrera says. "It's cheek meat. It comes from the cow's cheeks. It's real soft beef, and when it's almost done cooking, we simmer it in Corona Beer and Coke. It tastes like real tender beef."
For a side order, she recommends a gordita. Shaped like a pancake, it's stuffed in the middle.
"It's not like what you get at Taco Bell," she says. "They're real popular in Mexico."
Also popular in Mexico and made fresh at El Sarape is Agua Fresca De Horchata, a drink made by blending cooked rice, cinnamon, vanilla and milk.