The Wanderer | Queso Happens: An Evening at La Loma



 by Holly Brown


I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: tacos are king. They are tiny tortilla hammocks of meat and spices engulfed by sauces so spicy and flavorful that it’s impossible for any element not to shine. The moment of taco consumption is brief and sweet. However, that just endorses ordering many tacos of many varieties! Maximum flavor sampling is always a positive.

While there are not many times when tacos are not on my mind, it is in the latest days of Spring that they move to the forefront of my brain. It is in those first few hot days that my desire for tacos is insatiable, rivaled only by a desire for margaritas. Lucky for me, tacos and margaritas are universally acknowledged as perfect complements.

My top floor apartment gets warm and that is an understatement. There are moments when that heat rises and I can’t bring myself to move, let alone cook anything. It was on one of these first sweaty days in May that the desire for tacos and margs eclipsed my planned home-cooked meal. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than an impromptu dinner date and waving goodbye to your responsibilities.

When our friendly neighborhood editor, Sophie, suggested La Loma for my next endeavor, I was elated. An excuse! A real-life, full-on, good reason to indulge in tacos and margaritas. I could even use the I-have-to-do-this-for-my-side-job excuse (again, best gig ever). So, at the will of the taco gods, Ryan and I stepped into the humid evening and, windows down, drove down into the valley to the newest installment of La Loma.

We were seated at a booth by the bar and immediately ordered a half pitcher of margaritas (always on the rocks, always with salt. While you get that classic sour body at La Loma, it’s not sickly sweet. Rather, it’s a great compliment to whatever you happen to order and gives you just enough of that tequila kick. Not to mention it’s super refreshing when you’ve been sweating in your apartment all afternoon.

As I’m sure you’re all aware, queso is not something I can viably ignore. In fact, it is basically impossible for me to go into a restaurant that serves queso (or beer cheese, or pretzel with cheese, or any other variety of melted cheese) without promptly ordering it. So, queso happened, as it does. And as chorizo was an option, of course we added that.

The queso was white and warm and I literally want to bathe in it. The cheese was rich and savory, chorizo runoff never overwhelmed the cheese or made it greasy. Rather, it spiced it up and added not only texture variety but also another layer of buttery flavor.

Not long after we began indulging in the queso, the main event arrived! My beautiful, long awaited tacos were placed in front of me and they were perfect. Three doubled up stacks of corn tortillas displaying tiny piles of decadent meats and garnished simply with chopped onions and cilantro, a couple slices of cucumber and a sliced lime on the side.

I picked up my first taco: pollo. I want to give a HUGE shout out to the variety of salsas that are just sitting on the table! While we got to sample a spicy and juicy red salsa with our complimentary chips, they also provided two supplementary bottles of salsa: one salsa verde and one spicy, brown salsa. Mixing these two salsas with the chicken was the best decision I made. The earthy, smokiness of the brown salsa mixed with the bright tang of the salsa verde complimented the peppery chicken in a way that I am so thrilled I got to experience.

Of course I couldn’t order tacos without sampling the al pastor (my absolute favorite). This al pastor came with a large chunk of pineapple placed delicately on top of the juicy pork. The amount of pineapple was unlike anything I had seen. This version of al pastor allowed the pineapple to be a main element of the dish. The sour, juicy crunch meets delicious fattiness is a flavor I can certainly get used to. My last taco of the evening was the asada and, if possible, it was even juicier than the al pastor! The spices were smoky and salty with just a bit of kick. Mixed with just a tad of that earthy brown salsa, it was the perfect ending to a Mexican feast on a hot May night.

La Loma serves up delicious and authentic Mexican street food at super affordable prices AND serves them up crazy fast! Ryan and I ordered and ate within half an hour! And when you’re hungry and craving tacos, that is certainly a huge plus. Special shout out to the burrito, Ryan’s choice of the evening. It was hulking and packed full of beef. Kudos to him for thinking of dipping the burrito in queso.

459 Darrow Rd, Akron; Mon-Sun 10 am – 9 pm 1682 Merriman Rd, Akron; Mon-Thrs 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am -10 pm

(Photos courtesy of Holly Brown)