This week we went to La Tropicana on Lindenwood in South City. It is a fabulous Latin grocery store with all kinds of strange and wonderful items bursting off the shelves. It also has a little counter with about four tables inside and many tables outside. We lined up at the counter, placed our orders and the waiter brought them outside. Miraculously, the bills were all separate, so when we went to leave, we just fetched our bills and paid them at the cash register out front. We loved sitting outside in this neighborhood, surrounded by little kids ferociously playing soccer around the tables.
We started with chips and salsa. La Tropicana is not afraid of heat - the salsa was a slow burn, but thin and delicious. The chips were mostly fresh, but probably not made on the premises. We had margaritas (average, made from mix), Corona, Dos Equis and sodas.
Main courses were ENORMOUS. Each "platter" came with a chosen main course and sides that were the same for each platter. Nearly all dining choices also allow for beef, pork or chicken. The sides were refried beans with plenty of lard for flavor and yummy cheese atop, and red rice which was nicely spiced and textured. Some of us also got the nopales salad (cactus with cilantro, onion and tomato) which was excellent. The "spicy pork burrito" was not spicy, but really tasty with fork-soft shreds of pork in a green burrito. The tacos were chunks of beef, lettuce, tomato and cheese. Mild, but pleasing. The spicy pork tamales were authentically wrapped in corn husks, and the Eater who ordered it demolished it. The mole poblano (chicken in a cinamon chocolate sauce) was a little spicy, without overpowering the nice pieces of chicken. The chili relleno was chicken wrapped with grape leaf, spinach and rice. It was greatly enjoyed. The CUBAN SANDWICH was cured ham, pork roast, mustard, dill pickles and served with plantain chips. The chili verde was tender lamb pieces with a mellow flavor. Chicken flautas were good - pieces of chicken wrapped with tortilla, topped with cheese and tomatoes. Beef fajitas featured pull-apart beef, a little too fatty for the eater's tastes, but were enjoyed with the cheese and sour cream served on top. All in all, nothing was really "hot" with regard to spiciness and I definitely recommend getting a little hot sauce to jazz up the food. But it was very good food and the people serving it seemed to take real pride in what they do. I would recommend La Tropicana for a Saturday lunch or a weeknight dinner on an evening you feel casual. It welcomes kids and is fairly cheap for the amount and quality of food.