When dining out with friends, I can overlook less-than-perfect service if the food is great. Last night, at La Palapa in the West Village, the food was mediocre at best and the service was just plain bad.
When I lived on the east side, I always meant to try the East Village version of the restaurant but never got around to it. When my friends, Jill & Lauren, suggested we try the West Village location last night, I was eager to go. The 3 of us dine out together frequently, and we've had some amazing meals together. Unfortunately, last night wasn't one of them.
When we sat down, all 3 of us agreed that we wanted to share the chips, pico de gallo & guacamole appetizer to start. At $8.95, I was expecting a huge bowl of fresh guacamole, much like the portion at Mexican joints like Vamos in Gramercy and all the Mercadito locations. Not the case. We were given a small white bowl of guacamole that wasn't fresh with a haphazard heap of chips. Not impressed.
When we looked back over the menu to make our entree selections, I was intrigued by the fish taco platter for $18.95. I thought the price was a little high for 3 tacos, but being a fish taco-lover, I was willing to pay the price. It came with a side of rice and beans, and I requested that they just make the order double rice. Lauren got a platter of different types of fish mixed with a few tacos and Jill ordered a steak taco, a pork taco and a side of rice and beans.
And then we waited... and waited... and waited... I sipped on my white sangria, which was the highlight of the meal because for $8 I got a small pitcher of the beverage, but even my sangria ran dry long before the food came. After almost an hour of waiting, Jill asked the manager to check on our food, and it came out a few minutes later. Well, Jill & Lauren's food came out, mine took an extra 5 minutes, but what's 5 more minutes when you've already waited an hour?
The second I took my first bite, I knew I didn't like the tacos. The fish was chopped into tiny pieces and the sauce covering it tasted, frankly, gross. I suffered through the first taco, and mostly just ate the rice, which was thankfully good. I took the fish out of the 2nd and 3rd tacos, filled the tortillas with rice, and ate my $18.95 rice tacos. When Jill took a bite of my fish, she commented that it "tasted like cleaning solution." Not good.
Both of their meals were better than mine, but no one was impressed with the food. We won't be back to La Palapa, and my craving for fish tacos went unsatisfied. I'll have to get to Mercadito soon! Their fish tacos are awesome!
If you're a fish taco fan, where are the best you've found in the city? Do you like them covered in sauce (I don't!) or just a fresh piece of fish with some veggies (I do!)?
-The Fabulous Foodie