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Loving that Lengua

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Let’s just say simple, unadored lengua (braised beef tongue tacos) topped with cilantro, onion and lime on fresh corn tortillas are my new favorite Mexican dish. We finally made it to Corvallis’s best authentic (and cheap) Mexican restaurant: La Roca, run by the extended Nunez family from Oaxaca that runs other La Rocas and La Rockitas in nearby Philomath and on the coast in Newport and Lincoln City. Apparently the Nunez family are renown boxers in this area too.

If you’ve been scared to try tongue tacos, dig in. It’s really one of our most luscious cuts of meat but I guess the tastebuds (see below) are disconcerting to people. I guess we prefer concealed organ meats. But why is tongue so fatty if it’s a muscle? I guess that’s why it tastes so good.

I love that tongue is a delicacy in both Mexican and Jewish food cultures, or rather a celebrated peasant food that gained prominence out of the need to not waste any part of the beef. Funny that tongue is kosher though, no? I remember being grossed out the few times Nonny and Poppy had a whole tongue boiling in a pot at their house. Where did they get tongue in Richmond? They had nice whole tongue for sale in the esteemed butcher section of Richey’s Market today, probably to cater to their Mexican clientel. The 1950s-style grocery, featuring some good local produce and great deals, is our favorite place to shop outside of the far pricier food co-op and farmer’s market. Richey’s brings you back down to earth.

But Tacos Uurapan, while delicious, can no longer lay claim to the best Mexican comida in town. La Roca is where it’s at. Can’t wait to return for their weekday specials: Mole Oaxaqueno on Wednesdays and Enchiladas Verde on Thursday nights. Just as long as I can have them with lengua.

Beef Tongues/Flickr Creative Commons/By Nick Bair

Beef Tongues/Flickr Creative Commons/By Nick Bair

Written by baltimoregon

March 29, 2009 at 2:05 am

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Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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Corvallis Mexican folklore 4-H club kids doing a dance from Veracruz

Corvallis Mexican folklore 4-H club kids doing a dance from Veracruz

We had to grab a quick dinner tonight. So why not head to La Rockita, the local chain of affordable, authentic Oaxacan-style Mexican restaurants, especially since it was Cinco de Mayo? I’m always craving their tacos de lengua (braised beef tongue).

Little did we know we were in for a special treat. Traditional Veracruz and Jalisco Mexican folklore dances by colorfully costumed kids from a local 4-H club. It was pretty precious. But I should have stuck with the tongue tacos. The camarones de crema was too fishy and rich. Consistency. Keep it simple. I’ve found a simple dish that can’t be improved upon. Succulent meat, its grease undercut by crisp radishes, diced onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Enfolded in a warm corn tortilla shell. Why should I order anything else?

Le le le lengua

Le le le lengua

Skip the camarones de crema

Skip the camarones de crema

Written by baltimoregon

May 6, 2009 at 12:58 am

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The Best Mexican Comida in Corvallis

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Carnitas and Lenga Tacos at Tacos Uruapan

Carnitas and Lenga Tacos at Tacos Uruapan

 

It’s not hard to exhaust the dining options in small-town Corvallis. And unfortunately many of the restaurants here are expensive (perhaps to make up for inconsistent traffic). Corvallis cuisine could also stand to gain more ethnic diversity.

So Tacos Uruapan, an inconspicuous joint on 3rd St. on the industrial outskirts of Southtown Corvallis, is a rare gem. We devoured two steaming dinner platters, of carnitas (roast pork) and lengua (beef tongue) tacos and chile relenos, plus a Pepsi, for $16.50. The pork and especially the tongue were succulent with just enough grease, cut with squeezes of salsa verde and fresh lime. I love the bare-bones simplicity of authentic Mexican tacos in soft corn tortillas: chunks of braised meat, onion or radish and cilantro, with no distracting tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream or cheese. Think outside the border, indeed.

A cute indigenous Mexican couple from Oaxaca spoke little English but said they had run the restaurant for two years. Many of the Mexicans here hail from the culinary-rich state of Oaxaca, the one place in Mexico we’ve been. The owners of Tacos Uruapan reminded us of the Indo-Trinidadian couple who ran perhaps our favorite takeout spot in Baltimore: the Trinidad Gourmet. Wife in the kitchen, husband taking the orders at the counter. But thankfully the food comes out much more quickly at Tacos Uruapan.

Written by baltimoregon

December 14, 2008 at 1:52 am

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