In a search for the ultimate hot sauce, that same episode of Food Detectives told us to go to La Palapa in the East Village. Jack is from the west coast and constantly looking for something that fills the Mexican food void in his stomach and heart. We love Taco Taco (Upper East Side), Cancun (Midtown West) and Panchito’s (West Village). We had walked by La Palapa a zillion times on our way to Mogador but never taken notice. Once we’d heard that there was incredibly hot salsa to be had, off we went.
Our waiter was wonderful. He laughed when we asked for the Food Network super-spicy salsa before our butts had even hit the chairs. He couldn’t decide which of the three house salsas was hotter so he brought all three. Jack was in heaven. Each one had its own smokiness, fruitiness and style of heat.
The guacamole was fresh and well salted (always important). My friend and Jack mixed and matched the guacamole and salsas till our food came.
I ordered the Shredded Pork and Pineapple tacos. They were very good. I only got minor hints of pineapple of the smoky strength of the sauce. I would have liked a bit more of such a tangy fruit. Still, the pork was good and there were tons of chips to scoop up the leftovers. My friend got the chicken tacos. They were also hugely flavored.
We decided to try three sides. The grilled cactus had the texture of an eggplant with maybe a bit of bell pepper mixed in. Instead of being brushed with oil and grilled, they seemed to have been drown in oil and warmed. I think they could have been good. We also tried corn rolled in spiced crumbs and roasted. It was good. The tamale was horrible. Mushy and strangely seasoned swimming in a bowl of similarly textured soup that looked like curdled milk.
Despite the sides, we were happy. We agreed it would be a fun place to bring people and Jack and I said that we would absolutely go there if we were going to Saint Marks Place and not planning on Mogador (it may not happen, but it’s an idea).
At each turn, our waiter took things in stride. When we added and subtracted from our order willy-nilly. Or when my margarita was so strong that I couldn’t taste the sour mix, he had more mix put in and even brought simple syrup so that I could sweeten it to my own liking.
Jack had the green chicken enchiladas. He seemed happy with them, but not enough to keep us away from Mexican food later that week. He is still searching.
Original story appeared at http://www.meetandeatonline.com/2008/08/la-palapa.html