Deep in the heart of Elk Grove, resides a hidden gem, an unadvertised secret about to be uncovered. I discovered Todo Un Poco during Elk Grove’s Restaurant Week and I have since learned that many native Elk Grovians have yet to learn about this fascinating Mexican-Italian fusion restaurant.
But first, I want to share with you that my story starts with the heartbeat of the owner and chef Marie Mertz who I met on the evening of my review. Marie is a true culinary genius who creates from the depths of her soul and translates her beautiful ideas into exotic dishes that are unforgettable.
This stunning restaurant is poetry in motion and one that is truly an experience in itself. With the name Todo Un Poco or “a little bit of everything” I was expecting the traditional Mexican cuisine. But, I quickly realized there was so much more to Todo Un Poco, and so much that exceeding all my expectations. This is a gorgeously vibrant and lively restaurant designed to entertain in every sense.
About Todo Un Poco
Todo Un Poco is quietly hidden inside a shopping cove off Laguna Boulevard and Laguna Main Street. It opened twenty years ago and is still thriving. We dropped in on a Saturday night and it was very busy. Yet and still, Marie made it a point to come out and greet me, as I noticed she does with all her guests. I also observed her schmoozing with customers, in between dashing back and forth to the kitchen to carry on with her orders. She shared that she does not advertise her restaurant, but she has total faith in the word of mouth. So, this is where I come in, to reveal Elk Grove’s biggest hidden gem, Todo Un Poco.
This fascinating restaurant represents the true beauty and cultural diversity in Elk Grove. It quietly yet proudly boasts the exotic flavors of Mexico, fused with Italian cuisine, along with hints of Portuguese. How absolutely clever I thought to offer Portuguese flavors and dishes, as the history of Elk Grove belongs largely to the Portuguese settlers who came here to build dairy farms and their legacies right here in Elk Grove. With my own Portuguese heritage, I was even more excited to try the Portuguese dishes here at Todo Un Poco.
The Beautiful Dishes at Todo Un Poco
It was a short wait as a table cleared up for us. We were quickly seated, while chips and salsa were brought out promptly, on the house. These chips were lightly seasoned, non-greasy, light and airy. The salsa was mildly spicy and authentic, with the scents and aromas experienced only in the heart of beautiful Mexico.
We were soon presented with a beautiful appetizer called Tacos Dorados. Small, fried mini-tacos tossed and embedded inside a savory, delectable salad. This mysterious presentation will evoke a curiosity within to search for the goodies buried inside this beautiful bowl of leaves.
We were entertained as we enjoyed this delicious salad filled with interesting flavors while searching for the golden brown mini tacos. These tacos were crunchy and non-greasy, with a soft, delectable filling of meat on the inside. At $7 per bowl, this appetizer was a new experience for me. I wondered how the tacos managed to stay crunchy and intact while being embedded in the deliciously wet and savory salad leaves.
Bolas A La Tomatillo
Bolas A La Tomatillo was the opening scene presented to us as a special order. A beautiful bowl of delicious meatballs drenched in a thick, spicy tomatillo sauce was served with homemade bread rolls. The spicy tomatillo sauce is the secret that makes this dish rich and delicious in flavor or “Muy delicioso” as we say in Spanish. Also, tomatillo is a plant bearing small green fruit known as the Mexican husk tomato. At just $10 per appetizer, Bolas A La Tomatillo made a big first impression in taste, texture, and flavor. Without a doubt, I highly recommend this dish as it was one of my favorites.
Piri Piri Chicken
This Piri Piri Chicken, a spicy Portuguese dish was the next presentation that made another great impression. The chicken is marinated for hours before being grilled and cooked in a creamy vinegar chili sauce. Clearly, this is a very popular dish at Todo Un Poco and is definitely a must-try if you love a spicy, yet mildly sour and delectable cream sauce. At $19 it is served with fries and is a very different and unusual dish. Additionally, Piri Piri is a type of spicy sauce made from chiles and is pronounced peedee peedee in Portuguese.
The Pasta Portuguesa was a show stopper, an enormous dinner bowl filled to the brim. Moreover, it was overflowing with huge portions of chorizo (spicy Mexican sausage), linguica (spicy Portuguese sausage), feta cheese, shrimp, whole tomatoes and whole lemons in a gorgeous red tomato sauce. At $24 this pasta dish can be split for two people and perhaps even three.
The shrimp were juicy and fresh, drenched in the deliciously spicy tomato sauce. Moreover, the chunks of linguica and chorizo were excellent in taste and texture of their own. The savory, juicy, plump, whole tomatoes and lemons were my favorite morsels, as they added a burst of insatiable flavors to this already delicious pasta dish. Pasta Portuguesa is served with homemade bread which is toasted with melted cheese. Moreover, this is a very heavy meal and a highly recommended dish to share with family.
Pozole Rojo with Cheese Taquitos
The Pozole Rojo (Red Posole) was another incredible dish, a pork soup cooked with hominy, and garnished with shredded cabbage, radish and onions. This soup was bursting with multiple flavors of Mexico. We added a bit of salt and lemon to our order according to our taste preference. Also, a plate of delicious taquitos is served along with the Pozole soup.
Pozole pronounced po’sole, means hominy in Spanish. Hominy is a food produced from dried corn kernels. Without a doubt, this soup is a delicacy, a celebratory dish traditionally served in Mexico on New Year’s Eve, Christmas, birthdays, and special occasions.
Pozole is cooked slightly differently in each region of Mexico. At $16, this Pozole Rojo was everything and more than what we expected in taste, flavor, texture, all cooked to perfection for the picky Pozole eater. Pozole Verde (Green Pozole) and Vegan Pozole are also offered here which we will try at our next visit to Todo Un Poco.
The Carnitas or Pork Burrito was another beautiful dish, decorated with the striking colors of the Mexican flag in red, white and green. A warm, soft flour tortilla filled with large chunks of savory pork. Rice and beans garnished with sour cream, feta and drenched in two wet sauces, the tomatillo, and the oregano, both equally delicious. At $14 this burrito is massive in size and can be split for two or three.
The ambiance at Todo Un Poco is strikingly unforgettable. The entrance greets its guests with piles of wine bottles neatly stacked and clearly empty as if indicating a big party or a grand fiesta had taken place here. Moreover, the entire interior is painted with dark red walls and murals of beautiful paintings.
Pictures of Mexican culture cover every wall. The restaurant celebrates with photos of the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, skulls and skeletons representing Dia De Los Muertos or Day Of the Dead, pots, and pottery art. Moreover, all placed strategically to express the love of a beautiful culture.
A full bar sits proudly in the middle of the restaurant, one that offers a variety of wine and liquor. Without a doubt, Todo Un Poco means a little bit of everything and this gem of a restaurant represents exactly this. It is a small but lively and vibrant place. Furthermore, it is one that will impress you and your loved ones in a very special way.
I highly recommend Todo Un Poco to any and all, for family night, a dinner date or for a planned party. This is a restaurant designed for cultural camaraderie and fun. Undoubtedly, Marie Mertz does not disappoint with her creative dishes. Additionally, the restaurant itself is one that will lift your spirits with its energetic ambiance and gorgeous decor.
Todo Un Poco is truly a hidden gem in Elk Grove, one that must be explored more in-depth, as the menu offers so much more than what was covered in this article. Dishes such as Paella, Mexican Lasagna, Carne Ravioli, Rellenos Nopales (cactus), Chicken Mole (chocolate sauce) are some unique plates that will entice you to visit and keep you coming back for more great food and fun.
Lastly, I do hope you enjoy your visit to Todo Un Poco should you decide to drop in and experience this unforgettable Mexican-Italian fusion for yourselves. Until then, enjoy your meal! Buon Appetito! Provecho! Bon Appetit!
Todo Un Poco
9080 Laguna Main Street
Elk Grove, CA. 95758
Monday – Friday
Lunch 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner 4:30pm – 9pm
11:30 am – 9:30 pm
10am – 9pm