Editor’s note: The photos were taken at a different time than the review, so discrepancies may occur. La Plaza Tapatia changes the selection available in its hot bar daily, so not all items may be available at all times.
Plaza Tapatia is located just opposite the casino. While the latter looms large and somewhat ominously, almost like a malformed overgrown mall, La Plaza Tapatia is a bright, sunny grocery store crowded by its bustling, tidy parking lot. He shines like a diamond on Georgesville Road.
Now would be the time to tell you what kinds of foods can be found in its grocery aisles, but to tell the truth, we never got past the cafeteria section. (But you can check that out here.) Right at the entrance, there’s a small bar/café, then a winding counter that takes customers past an endless array of hot food, ready to be picked up and served.
Let’s talk protocol first. Based on limited experience, the order queue is at the cash register. In many grocery stores, you usually stand near the food you like and the service team tries to figure out who’s next. Here, it feels like the best approach is to queue at the checkout. When you get the green light, be ready to start making good choices.
Don’t sleep on the Tamales. They’re first in line, but easy to miss as they’re piled carelessly into a stove. There they sit, invisible in their neutral-toned pod shells. Unwrapped, their tender, steamed cornmeal sweaters contain shredded chicken with a distinct, almost startling, peppery edge. The appeal is paramount and the blend of softness and friendliness with its sly fire is sublime.
But pass it golden tacos. Fried and fluted, they look so good. They even crackle at the first bite: promising. That said, it’s pretty much a thick tortilla chip with plain chicken nuggets inside. There is a lot of poultry, but none of it is seasoned, not even with salt. If you want zing, you’ll add your own.
Going through the gigantic selection of dishes, the red things are usually good to go. Including Mexican Arrozwhich is seasoned rice, and Camarones Salteadosnice firm shrimp simmered in a porridge enriched with jalapeños and onions.
Bistec Entomatado is reddish brown (close enough) and also scores points. It’s based on tender beef sliced on the bias that soaks up its ambient savory sauce. The same beef cut on the bias, in Mexican Bistec, suffers in comparison. It’s more fluffy; less tender than the sauce version.
There are Chicken soup, it’s not red, but offers pieces of bone-in white and black bird insects simmering in real broth and some token vegetables. It is an honest and artisanal cuisine.
Most buffet items are priced at $5.99 a pound. The counter team does the picking, but they are value-driven. That is, if you order the aforementioned soup, there will be plenty of chicken in your broth, no worries there.
Beyond the buffet, there is Jelly desserts. Just across the street at the entrance to the store is a formal bakery section that offers a host of interesting sweets. The same sorts of concoctions greet guests at the end of the buffet line. Even as a non-jello fan, it seems like a moral imperative to score a mammoth slice of a dessert made up of bits of every flavor of jello; they are fused with a coconut flavored gelatin and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. Jello fans will enjoy, non-fans will at least be amused.
There’s so much more going on in the new grocery store: a café, a bar, a bakery. The cafeteria is a good place to start exploring. You can find it at 255, chemin Georgesville.
For more information, visit laplazatapatia.com.