18 December 2013

Paladar Latin Kitchen

Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar is a small national chain with one location near the city of Cleveland. The menu is Latin fusion with dishes from Mexico, Cuba, Central and South America. The bar prepares great drinks with an emphasis on rum, cachaca and tequila.

Paladar makes a ton of dishes for diners with dietary restrictions including a menu with symbols denoting vegetarian and vegan dishes. There is also a gluten-free menu.

Almost all of the side dishes, with the exception of the black beans and the refried bean dishes, are vegetarian. The pinto beans are vegan. Sides include rice dishes, vegetables and the ubiquitous fried plantain.

Guacamole is prepared to order and includes seasonal ingredients. The seasonal version was made with pepitas and queso blanco. 

The baked empanada appetizer was portioned to share. It was stuffed with portobello mushrooms and queso blanco.  It was dressed with a finely chopped pico de gallo and a garlic aioli that gives the dish a nice bite.

The sweet potato tacos give a great taste to a vegetarian classic. Hearts of palm add crunch, and the rest of the taco is filled with pinto beans, cabbage, scallions and tomatillo salsa. It is an exercise in flavor and texture.

Cocktails were well made but a little expensive. It's best to look for happy hour deals.

Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar on Urbanspoon

04 December 2013

La Parada

On a recent road trip, I managed to grab lunch at La Parada in Indianapolis. It is an authentic Mexican restaurant on the city's East Side in a strip mall filled entirely with Latin businesses. The decor is festive, and business can be brisk.

The beans and rice from La Parada are both vegetarian. There are a number of meatless dishes on the menu, although many are made with cheese.

Everything from La Parada is delicious washed down with a glass of house-made horchata. It is light, creamy and redolent of clove and cinnamon. It is vegan.

The salsa is heavy on tomatoes and very mildly spiced. Guacamole had cilantro, onions and jalepeƱo. Elotes, the classic grilled corn in mayo, chili powder and Cotija cheese, is a can't-miss side dish.

The cardiac A-bomb comes in the form of a veggie chimichanga in a spicy, creamy queso sauce. It is stuffed with veggies, beans and cheese, and the plate probably registers at about 1,700 with rice and beans.

There are a couple on TVs in the dining room that were tuned to daytime talk shows. Servers were excellent, although many speak English as a second language. It is worth double checking on dietary restrictions when ordering at La Parada.

La Parada on Urbanspoon