LTL offers different kind of Mexican lunch
By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Content Editor
Many of the customers and the employees at La Tienda appear to be Mexican or Latin. Behind the restaurant, there is a grocery store with all sorts of groceries you won't see at the American big name grocery stores. In coolers, there are bottles of drinks with Spanish writing. This place has to be the real deal. And the food was surprisingly different from the standard Mexican restaurant. I am carefully avoiding the word authentic because I have never been to Mexico.
At La Tienda on SW 13th St, you walk up to the counter and order. The waitress there was very friendly. I perused a lot of choices for such a small place. On this particular visit, my 2nd in recent months, I wanted one enchilada, but all the enchilada dishes came with 3 enchiladas, beans and rice. When I asked for one cheese enchilada with beans and rice, I got the OK. Then the waitress asked me if I wanted the beans and rice separate or with enchilada. Then I asked for onions and she asked did I want them chopped small or larger pieces. Wow. She also asked if I wanted them grilled. Later, when I saw my lunch partner's dish had grilled onions mixed in with meat and the onions smelled so good, I wished I had gotten them grilled. But I digress. I was very impressed with the willingness to accommodate my unique tastes – all with the grace of someone who understands that these small things make a big difference. A girl after my own heart. I had the choice of red or green mole. I almost went for the green, but chickened out and decided to stick to the more common red.
The chips came out hot and slightly browned – delicious! The salsa was up there with the best, but so far I think Los Margaritas has the best salsa.
My order came out looking extremely appetizing -- with a slice of avocado on top and a dollop of sour cream, but not the Breakstone type of sour cream; it almost looked like ricotta cheese. The mole was deep dark red, and surprisingly slightly sweet, and very good. The cheese was not overwhelming. In fact, I'm not sure what kind of cheese it was as the enchilada was so buried under sauce and lettuce. The tortilla was difficult to cut through with my fork. At first I thought it was a flour tortilla, but my partner got some steamed tortillas with his meal and I think they were the same ones that were used for the enchilada. They seemed fresh made and were corn, but with more flour than usual. It still had the familiar lime flavor.
The beans were very good and the rice as well. The rice actually had some potatoes mixed in and they were cooked perfectly. I would never put rice and potatoes together myself but this time it was very good and I've had that combination in some Indian dishes and was surprised that I enjoyed it.
The serving size was hearty. It didn't look like that much and I only had one tortilla, but I still ended up taking about half the food home with me. Maybe that was because of all those chips.
On an earlier visit I had the chicken soup and it was very good – served with lime and the chicken was indeed the main ingredient.
On this visit, I was tempted to take some flan out of the cooler where the drinks were, but I decided to save that for another visit, and . . . I WILL be back.
The Pluses and Minuses of La Tienda Latina:
The La Tienda Latina + : Excellent food, having it your way, customer friendly, On a nice day the la Tienda patio looks very inviting.
The La Tienda Latina - : After two visits, I haven't encountered any negatives.
- Phone Number: 367-0022
- Address: 2204 SW 13th St., Gaineville, FL
- Urban GLOB Location: 13th St
- Web Site: La Tienda
- Latitude: 29.631567
- Longitude: -82.339895
Enchilada literally means "covered in chile". The enchilada isn't the thing under the sauce, it's the tortilla and the sauce together. And I agree that Le Tienda is the best in town. Next time, try the tacos de la lengua- shredded beef tongue. They're unbelievably good.
Mindy Edwards Thursday, 15 August 2013 15:52 Comment Link
Schmidt is right. Try the green mole! It is so good, I have bought it to take home.
angie keen Thursday, 15 August 2013 10:21 Comment Link
Wow, Lynn, I'm sold! This place sounds really good, so good I gotta try it and maybe for lunch today. I am a salsa, grouper, guac lover!! Thanks for sharing your raves ;)
Alba Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:33 Comment Link
La Tienda is about as authentic as it gets in Gainesville. I found la Tienda 3 mo after they had opened and have seen it transformed from almost day one. In all my years of going there I have never had a bad meal, food is consistenly delicious. My favorites are the tacos carne asada, the tortas are fantastic, but I try to stay away from them as I am sure the calories are out of this world and the carnitas are always cooked to perfection. The servers are fast and always pleasant. One of the best places to eat in Gainesville.
Ron Schmidt Thursday, 10 May 2012 09:28 Comment Link
If you go there, try the green sauce. The "green sauce" is outstanding at La Tienda. Not only lunch. Also a great breakfast place.