Per Stan's recommendation from last month, I finally made it to La Esperanza.
The restaurant is friendly, with a family feel, and nicely lit and very clean. It is in an older part of town, on Northampton St north of Main, next to the Catholic Services Center.
The menu is basic; 4 tacos, or 4 enchiladas, or gorditas, sopas, tostadas, etc. They offer a choice of fillings; beef, spicy beef, chicken, pork, Mexican steak, or goat meat. 4 tacos is $5.00. I think the most expensive entree is maybe $8.
Complimentary chips were excellent, not corn chips but a slightly sweet and thick flour tortilla. The salsa was nice and spicy, maybe too hot for some but really just about right for those not afraid of a little bite. It has no tomatoes, just pepper, onion, cilantro, and a little garlic, and maybe a touch of adobo or something to give it an orangey color.
I ordered 4 tacos, one each of chicken, beef, spicy beef, and pork. They came double wrapped in corn tortillas, and were very basic, with spiced filling, onion, and cilantro. The tortillas were absolutely first rate, sweet and crunchy and soft all at the same time. The fillings were also really just the way they should be, soft shredded spiced meat. My favorite was the pork, muy least favorite was the chicken; the bird didn't go as well with the onion and cilantro.
Total, with soda & tax, $7.20. I left a $2 tip and felt like a got a bargain.
Also; the folks here are really nice. They ask patrons if it's their first time in, and also where they heard about La Esperanza. I wish you could have seen the guy's eyes widen when I explained to him that I'd read about his restaurant on an internet site called "Chowhounds", where people direct other people to good authentic food! When I was leaving, and saying goodbye to the waitress, she smiled, invited me back, and said, "Lots better than Taco Bell, right?", with a little pride in her voice. And of course she is right!
I stopped in the groceria next door and poked around. There are lots of imported peppers and spices and dried peppers. I didn't see much that I needed, but then my eyes lit on... La Morena Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, the ones with the sultry senorita on the label! Doggone, those are good! I picked up a couple cans. It's nice to have a direct line to good chipotles in adobo.
Highly recommended. Hispanic soul food done right. I'm going back a few more times over the next few days to try the rest of the menu.
Geez, I hope there's people in NEPA reading this.