"There will always be some kind of raw fish on the menu, a crudo or ceviche," Gandin told us. Here, thick, buttery slices of King salmon are topped with fresh fava beans, Meyer lemon zest, black olive jalapeno salsa, and papalo leaves.
Tripe Guisado ($9)
"I thought, no way we're going to sell tripe," Gandin said. "But it's one of the most popular items on the menu!" The tripe is braised for two to three hours in a stock of rendered bacon, onions, garlic, pork trotter, and ground toasted chile morita. It's served with garbanzo beans and wedges of lime.
Little Gems "Diosa Verde" ($10)
Gandin envisioned this dish of little gem lettuce, radishes, pickled onions, cotija cheese, and spiced pumpkin seeds as Comal's signature salad. "It will be delicious year-round," he told us. The Mexican-tinged green goddess, or diosa verde dressing, is flavored with serrano, cilantro, lime juice, creme fraiche, and anchovy.
Duck Enchiladas ($14)
Tender Sanger Farm duck is rolled up in thick, fresh corn tortillas, and topped with mole coloradito and crema.
Duck and Mole Coloradito
This red mole is made with guajillo, ancho chiles, and cinnamon to pair with the rich duck meat.
Whole Tai Snapper Zarandeado ($56)
A whole Tai snapper, cooked on a the wood grill, is coated in a rub of mayonnaise, soy sauce, guajillo chiles, and a bit of Worcestshire sauce. The preparation, called Zarandeoado, comes from Puerto Vallerta. The fish is served with grilled asparagus and grilled onions.
Tai snapper in a fresh tortilla
All of the platos fuertes are meant to serve two to three, and come with fresh corn tortillas, green rice, and black beans. Other options include a whole spit-roasted Fulton Valley chicken, and a 22-ounce bone-in ribeye.
Jack Satan ($9)
"This should look like scorched earth," Baird said, as he coated a glass with a blend of chile, ground dried hibiscus blossom, cinnamon, salt, sugar, and orange zest. "I want it to look like the dirt in hell."
The cocktail is a current crowd favorite; Partida Reposado is blended with hibiscus syrup, lime, salt, and a tincture made of three fresh chiles (red fresno, serrano, habanero), two dried (chipotle, morita), and a little bit of chicory. "This is a relatively simple drink, with a whole lot of homemade flavor packed in," Baird said.
A variation on a Paloma, Don Amado Rustico Mezcal is mixed with Cocchi Americano, grapefruit, lime, honey, salt, and soda. Baird likes the hint of quinine bitterness from the Cocchi Americano in this "session drink."
The Comal Swizzle ($9)
"This drink goes by, and people are like, 'What's that?!'" Baird told us about this colorful cocktail. "There's a massive association with Mexico and vacation. This is our beach drink." You get your choice of tequila, mezcal or sotol mixed with Falernum, pineapple, passionfruit, lime, and Cascade hops tincture, served with crushed ice. (This one contained sotol.)
Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal ($9)
"One thing about these spirts that no other spirits have, tequila and mezcal can really show terroir," Baird said as he served up a pour of Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal. Served with spears of pineapple and Sal de Chicharron (chicharron salt), Baird suggests that you sip the Mezcal first, then eat a bite of pineapple dredged in salt.