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Dining Out:

Try La Bamba for zesty fare al fresco

January 02, 2010|By Phillip Hain

The sweet potato fries ($2 extra with the Cuban sandwich) were really enjoyable, cooked to the ideal outside crispness while retaining a soft interior. The accompanying garlic sauce tasted like a mild Thousand Island dressing infused with just the right amount of garlic.

What caught my eye in the island cuisine section of the menu was the Panama shrimp ($12.95) because it was described as containing bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic sautéed in wine. I was anticipating something light and delicate but it was swimming in a sauce that was well spiced because the tomatoes were cooked to a thick and rich consistency. Not what I was expecting but really lively and scrumptious — it reminded me of a Cuban variation on traditional cacciatore.

The shrimp dish was accompanied by Caribbean-flavored rice, black beans, tortillas and a small salad with pieces of lettuce topped with the same pico de gallo that came with our chips. Their rice is reminiscent of what you’d find in a traditional Mexican restaurant but more yellow in color than I’m used to, and the taste is a bit sweeter. That same dash of sweetness was also true of the black beans.

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My only quibble was that the beans were not as hot as the other items on the plate and were a bit mushy. Each of the items was tasty on its own but I got creative and mixed the shrimp, rice and pico de gallo together into a flour tortilla. That was a good idea — my own mini shrimp wrap.

We went on a Saturday night and only one other person was eating at a table while we were there, but we did notice many people stopping by to pick up take out orders. I picture this as a relaxing lunch spot on a warm California day — as long as cars aren’t noisily speeding on the street. The website says they’ve been around 20 years, so let’s hope that continues.


Get in touch PHILLIP HAIN is a Glendale resident who enjoys trying food from a variety of cultures. About the writer PHILLIP HAIN is a Glendale resident who enjoys trying food from a variety of cultures.

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