In the event that you are driving along Interstate 5 on the western coast of the United States of America between the cities of Portland, Oregon and Olympia, Washington, you are in for a treat.¹
While the city of Centralia might lay claim to such delights as the Gymboree Outlet Store, I assure you that there is only one reason to visit this fair burg: La Tarasca. Home to, frankly, some of the best Mexican food I’ve eaten in my entire life, and I’ve spent prodigious eating time in both Los Angeles and Houston.
There’s not even a lot to say about it. Everything is homemade, even the pickled carrot appetizers.
They are famous for their carnitas, pork slow roasted with such finesse that it can be mashed to a moist pulp if you touch it too firmly with your fingertips.
I personally think the chile rellenos are the most transcendent item on the menu, a simple affair (like everything they serve, really) of fresh pasilla pepper, some cheese, a thin egg batter and a meeting with a hot griddle rather than a deep fryer. It appears so plain, but like any good fairy tale there are layers upon layers of hidden meaning. The lardy refried beans alone are worth the drive from wherever you are.
I snorted when I read Yelp reviews of La Tarasca that complained a lack of flour tortillas. Let me tell you something: when there is an old Mexican woman with her hair in a bun in the kitchen hand patting out rounds of white corn masa and then slapping them on a smoking griddle to be then whisked to your table in hallow stacks of three? Shut the fuck up about flour tortillas.
¹ Unless it’s a Tuesday, in which case you’re screwed.July 28th, 2010 | Eatin' Fancy