Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Los Portales III

Hillsboro, Mo.

Once again our combined indecisiveness ruled the day. No one had really thought ahead. It was Adam’s turn to choose, we assured him it didn’t really matter much to us as we had no clue where to go either. So we headed to Hillsboro.

The Place:

Across the street from the courthouse, an old building that used to be something else. The door leads to an entry room, a couple of video games clumsily take up the space. To the right was the large dark bar. We were greeted by an attractive, well clevaged Hispanic lady who smiled and showed us to a booth in the main dining area. The laminated menus were already in place as we sat down. The only other patrons in the area were two young mothers and their four or five loud, slimy children, all under the age of four or five. There was a growing pile of debris around their table, plates and remnants of unfinished foods littered the table itself. Each of the children protested and screamed at one point or another, the mothers responded slowly and mechanically, it appeared that they were already numbed, exhausted from tending to the nasty little brats.

There was ample Mexican music pouring from the speakers, not blasting but definitely prominent. I don’t speak the language, but the emotions of the mostly male singers were obvious. Someone or something had done them wrong. Adam started shoulder dancing when the inevitable, frequent and lively accordion solos cut in.

We were brought our chips and carafe of salsa, along with a coupe of small bowls. We dug in while scanning the menus. I had mentioned earlier that I was not going to be ordering one of their five-plate everything combos.They're very good, but unless you haven't eaten for a few weeks, there's simply too much food.

The Food:

LP has a wonderful combo selection. One or two of just about every possible combination of delights. On the side of the menu was a glossary of terms which was very helpful. There were thirty-something numbered combos. I opted for number 18, one burrito, one enchilada, rice and beans. Adam went for number 25, a taco, a burrito, rice and beans. Angel was very hungry and went for the enchilada combo, one beef, one chicken and one cheese. The drinks; tea, tea and coke.

We placed the order as I fought to not stare at the ample cleavage directly in front of me. I wish I could stop doing that, noticing things like that. One of these days Angel’s going to catch me and get really, really upset. It's not like I have nefarious intentions, or am on the prowl, it's just that stupid hard-wiring in the more primitive portions of my brain.

The chips were all but gone as the plates arrived. Steamy, melty, aromatic. I chopped mine up and realized that it was all beef, rookie mistake. I prefer chicken, or at least a mix of beef and chicken. The beef (ground) is spicy and not bad, but two food items with just the beef is a little overpowering. I dug in anyhow as the red enchilada sauce was just about perfect. The rice was excellent, not over or under cooked or too spicy. The beans, all mashed up and mixed with a healthy dose of melted white cheese was great as a binder for all the loose burrito and enchilada bits, much the way mashed potatoes help get errant peas on a fork.

We all ate well and thoroughly enjoyed. I filled up fairly quickly. It was early yet so there was discussion about dessert, we decided to stop at Queen’s (the local old-style grocery store) and pick out something for later.

Summary:

Twenty seven bucks, yeah, really. The food is fresh, authentic, plentiful and well made. The staff is always friendly and never pushy. This is not an upscale joint; it’s more hole-in-the-wall/firetrap. It’s old, the floors are not exactly level, and there’s not even an attempt to make it seem like anything more than it is. Very highly recommended, we’ll go back, we’ll even take guests there.

Dessert:

We stopped at Queens’ on the way home. It’s an older style (50’s-60’s) supermarket that still posts hand-lettered paper signs with specials and sales on the front windows. Its old automatic doors struggle to open and close, the overhead lighting is not quite as bright as modern mega-marts. Fading and cracked linoleum tiles, dated signage and old shelving freeze this place in a former time. It’s not a great place for bargains, we never do a full grocery run there, but for grabbing a carton of eggs, or a loaf of bread here and there it’s much more convenient than Walmart.

We headed first to the Deli/Bakery section in the back. Angel wanted something relatively fresh. Adam found a slice of chocolate cheesecake, Angel finally decided on some cream cheese rolls. I already knew what I wanted. Nutter Butter Creme Patties. I love, love, LOVE these things but only allow myself to

have them on special occasions, because I will eat the whole package in one or two sittings. Which I did.

Next week: I'm on my own.

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