Thursday, July 11, 2013

We’re Highly Suggestible

As Chuck mentioned last week, it is hot and humid in Southern Louisiana this time of year. And that means we are spending a lot of time lounging in the air conditioned splendor of the RV. Usually one of us is on the computer, while the other is watching TV. And the rule is: “He/she who uses the computer relinquishes custody of the remote.”

So last Saturday afternoon I am the Master of the Remote and come upon Mexican Food Paradise on the Travel Channel. This channel has been running a series of “Paradise” episodes. There are BBQ Paradise, Fried Food Paradise, Hamburger Paradise, Hot Dog Paradise, Steak Paradise, Bacon Paradise, and more. And many have begat progeny. There are now Steak Paradise 2, Steak Paradise 3, and Hamburger Paradise 2.

We were please to see that we had eaten at two of the Mexican restaurants featured—El Indio in San Diego and Tomasita’s in Santa Fe. (Although a New Mexico native would quickly point out that their food is New Mexican and not Mexican.) And at the end of the hour we were both craving Mexican food.

We have had only one experience with Mexican food in Lafayette at a place that I dubbed last year as “Gringo Mexicana” or “Your grandfather’s Mexican.” So I took to the computer (after transferring the remote to my Favorite Traveling Companion) and found La Pagua (Spanish for “avocado”) which garnered a “92% Likes” vote (out of 737 votes) on and was ranked 34th out of 367 restaurants in Lafayette on
La Pagua can also be translated as “the shoddy,” but there was nothing shoddy about this place. While it was located in a strip mall, the interior was brightly painted and decorated with colorful tiles and mirrors.
There was a small sidewalk patio and perhaps the threat of thunderstorms—which happen here with regularity—sent the previous occupants of this table indoors.
As we were studying the lengthy menu, we snacked on a basket of thin and warm tortilla chips along with two dishes (one for each of us) of their house-made salsa. This was excellent fresh salsa that had small chunks of tomato, onion, jalapeno peppers, and a good amount of cilantro. The heat of the peppers kind of sneaked up on us. The first couple of bites seem quite mild and than—BAM—the heat hits. I couldn’t stop eating it, while telling myself repeatedly to stop if I wanted enough room for my meal.

The menu contained all of the Mexican restaurant staples—enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas, tacos, and fajitas. A number of reviewers on and specifically mention La Pagua’s pupusas which “are a traditional dish from El Salvador. Pupusas are corn tortillas with a filling—usually cheese (pupusas de queso), beans, and/or Salvadoran-style chicharrón (finely ground pork)…. Pupuasas are cooked on a griddle, and served with a pickled cabbage slaw called curtido and thin tomato sauce (salsa roja)” (
But the afternoon before, Chuck mentioned that he had never had a tamale, so I made the Tamale Dinner my meal choice.
This consisted of three tamales filled with shredded pork that had been cooked in a fairly spicy red sauce but nonetheless seemed rather dry. The masa “envelope” was not overly thick and had a faint corn flavor. What set these apart was the house-made chile verde that was served on the side. While I am not entirely sure of what went into the chile, I suspect that it contained tomatillos, jalapeno or Serrano peppers, onions, and a goodly amount of cilantro. This chile verde was spicy. Let me repeat—spicy. It was so good. Having eaten more chips and salsa than I should have, I ended up taking one tamale with some chile verde home with me and it became my breakfast the following morning.

I gave Chuck a fairly good sized bite of one of my tamales, and he was not impressed and he decided that he was not a fan of masa.

Chuck chose the Camaron Ranchero—a dozen shrimp in La Pagua’s house-made ranchero sauce. 
What is ranchero sauce? There are probably as many versions of this as there are cooks in Mexico. La Pagua’s version was a light tomato-based sauce with sautéed onions and plenty of cilantro. (Probably more cilantro than Chuck would have preferred.) And while the menu said that the dish would contain a dozen shrimp, his plate had at least fifteen and these weren’t small shrimp either. And, since we are in Louisiana, the shrimp were perfectly cooked.

Both of our meals came with rice and refried beans. I am no big fan of refried beans, but I do have to admit that these were above average. But, even though it contained peas and carrots, the rice was a bit bland. But at least Chuck had the ranchero sauce to mix with the white rice.

We finished with an order of sopapillas which I call Mexican Beignets.
This was an order of eight small triangle-shaped pastries dusted with cinnamon and sugar. While these were no competition for the sopapillas we have had in New Mexico, we still enjoyed them.

Well, we now know where to go for really good Mexican food in Lafayette and award La Pagua 4.0 Addies.

Now if we could just find a good Chinese restaurant here.

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

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