Monday, July 16, 2012


Where are my sunglasses?

It’s time to leave Virginia. The last part of our visit has been plagued by high temperatures, high humidity, and frequent thunderstorms. All combined to curtail many of our activities. But when there is nothing else to do, you can always go out to eat.

It seems that—with the exception of Frosty Bossie in Coeburn, VA—the mom and pop burger joints have ceded the territory to the national chains. Instead, most of the independents serve some form of ethnic food. We have eaten OK Chinese in Big Stone Gap and good pizza in Norton. Now we return to Norton for some Mexican food at Mi Finca (“my farm”).

While Red Flower’s (Big Stone Gap) and Romano’s (Norton) décor paid only cursory attention to the food’s ethnic roots, the interior of Mi Finca displayed no such reticence. The main dining room was a riot of color and patterns that could have been tacky, but managed not to be.

The chairs were painted and carved, and no two were alike.

The table tops (covered with glass) were painted and carved, and no two were alike.

And the tops of the booth backs were painted and carved, and no two were alike.

But I do admit that the attempt to paint the walls to resemble stone can only be described as tacky.

As was the case at the Mexican restaurant in Wytheville, the menu here is extensive and includes fajitas, burritos, chimichangas, quesadillas, and enchiladas along with specialty dinners, dinner combos, and vegetarian options. The menu was so long that we had almost consumed the basket of warm tortilla chips and salsa before we had come to a decision. And after the second trip to our table to see if we were ready to order (we weren’t), our server wasn’t seen again for a period of time.

After all of this deliberation, Chuck chose the Burrito Carne Asada with a taco on the side. (I didn’t taste the taco so can’t comment.
Nor did I taste the rice and beans but they were good enough for Chuck to devour them all. But the burrito was marvelous. It was full of marinated and grilled thin strips of beef, onions, and peppers along with more beans and rice. Chuck described the taste as being similar to beef fajitas. And this was smothered in a not overly rich cheese sauce given a flavor spark by some green chiles.

What I really liked about his burrito—along with the taste—was how it was constructed. One of my (many) food eccentricities is that I don’t like the way the ends of the flour tortilla on most burritos are folded in while the burrito is being rolled. You end up with two ends that are nothing more than layers of tortilla with no filling. And these I usually leave on the plate. Now take a look at Mi Finca’s burrito (below). I hope you can see that the end is open. You can eat it all.

Given the heat and humidity, I wanted to eat light. No rice and beans for me. So I chose the Shrimp Cocktail. No appetizer shrimp cocktail. Rather, this was an entrée served in a giant goblet

and contained at least a dozen large shrimp, cubes of avocado, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, and cilantro in a tomato juice like base. It was a little bit sweet and a whole lot spicy.

I have only seen this version of the shrimp cocktail on one other Mexican restaurant menu—Beto’s in Reno, NV.
And this was almost as good. The difference lay in the temperature at which it was served. Mi Finca’s was just a bit cooler than room temperature. Beto’s was at just a bit warmer than ice cold. I preferred the colder. But there was no difference in the quantity and quality of ingredients.

We’re off to Memphis for barbeque and fried chicken and whatever we discover when we get there. But we’re glad that we finished our Appalachian stay with a 4.0 Addie meal.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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