Monday, August 5, 2013

Restaurant Review: La Placita

I'm a big fan of Mexican food. Heck, at 6'1 and 245lbs, I'm a big fan of food, period. For most of my life, my favorite Mexican fix in the Lehigh Valley had been Amigo Mio on Cleveland and 6th in Allentown. When they closed last year, it was quite literally the end of an era. I had been going there since before I was even born (my late mother had been going there for years before I was even a thought).
Image courtesy of the Morning Call online
Thankfully, I was well prepared for their closing. The proprietors of the establishment had warned me some time before that they were considering closing their doors after more than 3 decades in business.

About 3 years ago, I stumbled upon a nice, quaint, hole-in-the-wall (albeit a very clean hole-in-the-wall) on 12th street in Allentown called La Placita. In truth, they had better quality, more authentic food than Amigo Mio, but nostalgia kept me coming back to my old standby. Still, I made it a point to stop by the family run La Placita as often as I could afford it.

This past Friday, before heading to my job at the Lehigh Valley Mall, I left a little early and made a stop for a late lunch/early dinner. As I always am, I was glad I stopped in.

La Placita is a Mexican deli/grocery store that happens to have about a half dozen small tables in back. Want lard? Fresh limes? Ginger? Cilantro? You got it!

The menu features everything from relatively pedestrian double wrapped soft shell tacos to more adventurous fare such as tripe soup, spicy pork with cactus, and goat. My tastes on this particular visit were less than exotic.

I started with my personal favorite, an order of three spicy pork tostadas. Sometimes I opt for a steak tostada as part of the mix but their spicy pork is truly exquisite. I wish I knew what blend of herbs and spices they used to flavor it, but I'm content to leave it a mystery. If you're not into "spicy" food, you would still be safe with this choice. It's well seasoned, but hardly any heat.

The tostadas come with lettuce, sour cream, cilantro, onions, a smattering of queso fresco, re fried beans and a generous helping of whatever meat you decide to order on them. You get three for the princely sum of $7.50.

For those who prefer tacos (I did not order any on this particular outing), they are priced similarly and consist of 2 soft tortillas on each taco (double wrapped), onions, cilantro, and the meat of choice.

All of their entrees come with a side of their freshly made tomatillo salsa verde. It varies in spiciness according to the season and I've even had it vary from week to week. Suffice it to say, it isn't for those shy about embracing the fire. I think it's delicious.

My second (and last) course was Enchiladas Verdes con Queso. For the uninitiated, cheese enchiladas in the aforementioned spicy green tomatillo sauce.

The enchiladas, like most of their entrees, come with a side of re fried pinto beans and nicely seasoned rice. On top of the green sauce, was lettuce, sour cream, a sprinkling of queso fresco, and 3 slices of avocado. If you don't do spicy, try the enchiladas with red sauce. I finished about 2/3rds of it before I realize my eyes had been somewhat bigger than my rather sizable stomach and decided to call it a day.

The bill, including tax, was just over $17. With tip, $20.

If you're a Lehigh Valley native and you decide you're ready to step up your game from the usual Taco Bell or some of our other less-than-authentic chains, I highly recommend a visit to La Placita. If you're one of the many New York and New Jersey imports to the LV, you'll be glad to find something truly different from the meat-and-potatoes standards in the area. They're open every day except Tuesday. The ingredients are as fresh as you'll find anywhere and they're prepared by a family that knows what they're doing. In this era of NIZ funded stimulus in Mayor Ed's Allentown, visit a place run by folks who are making their life in America without government money.

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