Power to the people
Yesterday I asked the kind folks on the old Eat Local Facebook to pick where I should go for Cinco de Mayo. One of the best parts about Memphis is the passion with which people talk about their favorite foods, and that is evident in the comments, give them a read. Thanks to everyone that put in their thoughts!
I’m not sure how many of you were out at Las Delicias last night to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style, but it could easily have been all of you. The place was packed. It is a good sign as a diner when people are willing to wait for a table, so I was excited (not about waiting, but about the food) when I saw that it was slammed with people. We knew going in that we chose the new hot Mexican restaurant to eat on the Cinco, so the wait was no surprise. The large bar in the back was serving cold beers and icy margs, so that made the wait an enjoyable experience for most.
In the beginning
What is this Cinco de Mayo craze really all about? Fortunately my old pal the Wik is around to answer these kind of questions for me.
Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a holiday held on May 5 that commemorates the Mexican army‘s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day, the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico. That is actually September 16.
138 years after that battle the talk of the town about the Delish was that the chips were out of this world. They are a house-made super thick, extra crunchy concoction that go well with anything. By anything I really mean salt, salsa, guacamole, and cheese dip, but I am probably sure that they would hold their own with other ingredients as well.
When I made my declaration of Las Delicias at work, a coworker gave me my next piece of important information. “Get the guacamole.” I did, and she was right on the money. The guac is not the mashed up, pre-made kind. This was the real McCoy, made in the back primarily of chunked avocado and spices. It was awesome!
We also indulged in the cheese dip, if only. Not because I love cheese dip (I do), but because it just made sense to find more reasons to ask for more of those chips. The chips carried the cheese, but it was quite respectable. If I were forced to pick my poison so to speak, I would choose the guac over the cheese. Not saying you should follow my lead, but it really was good!
From Hong Kong to Mexico City to M-town
When I was in my college prime at age 22, I went with a lacrosse all-star team to China and Japan for a month. There were many high points, a few sticky situations, and a lot of fun. Like I have said before, I am always making definitive statements and lists that are somewhat arbitrary, and I will do so now. When I think back to the summer of 2004 in Japan, three things stand out above any other.
- Cleanliness - Tokyo is larger than New York and it was the cleanest place I have ever seen. I was shocked.
- 1980s Revisited – The dress code of many of the younger folk was straight out of a Madonna video from the 80s. Leg warmers, head bands, acid wash jeans, you name it, it was there. Tokyo is one of the fashion capitals of the world, so it is not surprising that when they do something, the do it all the way.
- Fanta was EVERYWHERE – I think there was a national obsession with Fanta. It was easier to track down than Ashti (like the Bud Light of Japan). There weren’t Coke machines, but there were tons of Fanta machines. Side note – On a day trip to Lantau Island off of Hong Kong, in the vending machine halfway up to the world’s largest outdoor Buddha statue, I found the elusive, mythical Blueberry Fanta, but it was sold out. Evidently it is impossible to get anywhere, and I have never seen it again. Why???? End side note.
It was during this trip that I developed a love affair with Orange Fanta. I’m not a huge soft drink person. I much prefer tea, but Orange Fanta is one of my secret loves. Why is this important? Because recently I found Orange Fanta’s match! Jarritos Mandarin is Mexico’s answer to Fanta, and it is *gasp* better. Jarritos is the ultimate companion to spicy Mexican food, take my word for it.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Main Event!
Ok, after we settled down with our drinks and ate some delicious chips, cheese, salsa and guac, we had some decisions to make. The menu was full of great choices, and we each chose a different path to fulfillment (ZING!).
K ordered the closest thing to her normal fajita meal, so she ended with the Asandre, which was basically steak, peppers, onions, cheese, etc all mixed together and ready to be served onto small tortillas. This was tasty and intense.
My other partner in crime/eating ordered up the Cuban sandwich, which made me all kinds of jealous, as it is one of my favorite sandwich combos in existence. The pork on the toasted bread looked awesome, and my friend definitely agreed.
I went for a slightly more traditional approach and ordered my own personal quatro taco aka 4 tacos. I got two chicken and two chorizo. The chorizo were naturally more flavorful. You can see the sausage grease soaking into the tortillas in the picture. I highly recommend them. The chicken tacos were also very good, definitely highlighted by the very fresh cilantro on the tacos. You order the tacos (I would say a la carte, but Cinco de Mayo celebrates victory over the French) one at a time, so you can get as much or as little food as you like, depending on your earlier chip intake.
To me Las Delicias did one of the most difficult things that a restaurant can do. It lived up to the hype. This place has been getting a lot of pub in my circles to the point that it was almost mythical like the Blueberry Fanta, but it truly met and exceeded my expectations. The chips, the guac, the chorizo, and the Jarritos will keep my coming back to Park Ave again and again. See you there!