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La Tarasca

RestaurantsOlympia

La Tarasca doesn’t make its expectations from you a secret. Greeting you at the door is a note informing that they do not serve chips and salsa. In fact, they do not even have chips, which really is a polite way of saying don’t even ask. Hey, fair enough, and you do get a bowl of pickled carrots and salsa served before your meal as a happy compromise. La Tarasca is strict but fair.

This pragmatism continues through the menu. As opposed to many of its ilk, La Tarasca has only one starred house specialty: the carnitas. Even the flan, described as a MUST have, is not deemed worthy of the elusive star, though it probably should be.

I’m good with all of this. I like to know what to expect, just as much as I like to know what is expected of me. If La Tarasca wants me to go with the carnitas, who am I to argue?

And I’m glad I didn’t.

The carnitas are stupendously good. I don’t toss out that type of hyperbole often, but caution to the wind, and all that — they are good enough for anyone to make the trek to Centralia. Centralia! It’s a lovely town, I’m sure, but not exactly a road-trip destination. Should they decide to rename the place to La Tarasca in the name of marketing, I’d be in full support of it.

But I digress.

These are the type of carnitas you want to get to know. Converse with; enjoy their company; show them respect. Your relationship will be short, but it will have the depth and affection you usually see with a dear family member. Just in meat form.

There’s a proper surface-bite to the pork, yet the innards melt in your mouth. The spices are delicate, with a depth you only get from proper slow cooking. It all makes for an almost mysteriously delightful experience, one of lore only found in ancient tomes.

The tortillas look and feel as rustic as they are fresh, and like good bread, I could eat them by themselves. Don’t do that, though. Wrap the meat with the rice and beans in them, and top with pico. The combination is of divine proportions.

Should the mood strike, we would seriously recommend the flan. It’s not too sweet, and the sauce adds just a little bit of zing to the party. La Tarasca might not give it a star, but I will.

In fact, I’ll give La Tarasca as many stars as I can (two). It hands down serves the best Mexican food in the Olympia area and is worth the pilgrimage for any tortillaphile. Anything else would be in violation of your nature.