So I'm at PetSmart around 38th St. & Thomas today, stocking up on food for my fish, when I realize I've not been fed either. And it just so happens that across the parking lot there's something new to the eye... Las Palapas Taco Grill. I'm pretty sure it was in a space that used to be a La Salsa or a Baja Fresh (LSBF). So I thought I'd check it out, not knowing what to expect. It was pretty interesting.
It's not like a regular restaurant. In fact they pretty much kept the LSBF layout... you walk in, there's a bright counter with a cashier standing beneath a big menu board full of choices. Behind him/her is an open, stainless steel kitchen with cooks throwing meals together. There are numerous small tables inside and out. To the left is a salsa bar with a variety of choices, and a "fill your own" drink area. It was very clean, somewhat antispectic, but that was fine.
What's different is the selection. I was expecting the LSBF experience of having to first decide what type of dish desired, followed by trying to figure out what ingredients made up the 5 different choices of burritos, etc. What's in a Super Grande versus a Super Baja? So my mind took a double take when looking at the big board of choices. There were no combo meals. No salads. No burritos even. The left side listed types of tacos. The middle board listed Quesadillas. The right board listed everything else, including side, drinks, desserts, etc.
Another eye catcher was the prices... there was nothing that cost more and $2.50. Most things cost around $1.50. That threw me for a loop. No combo meals with whatever you want + rice, beans, etc. forced upon you. This wasn't a taco stand, but a decent sized eatery with a budget friendly a la cart menu. At the same time, it's like a Mexico City taco stand with ambition.
The tacos range from 59 cents to $3. The former is nothing more than refried beans in a (corn or flour - your choice) tortilla. In that range are fish, shrimp, steak, pork, and chicken fillings. The $2.99 taco is char-grilled steak & bacon with sour cream.
My order was a Carne Asada taco, an Al Pastor taco, and a Bean taco. I'm used to the combo meals so the bean helped with the transition. Also ordered a medium drink. Cost: $5 + change.
The meal was good. Not earth shattering but pretty decent. It's a new company. A new place. But I like the concept. The effort. This isn't a destination spot - just something to try if in the area. We need more places where we can grab a decent $5 lunch. Something between a restaurant experience and Taco Bell.