Favorite

Forget so-called "authentic," this Mexican restaurant is real. 

The Real Deal

Like Chinese and Italian food, "authentic" Mexican has become so successfully assimilated into the American palate that it is widely available and widely the same. The situation is both celebratory and unfortunate — at once a mark of the growth and integration of Spanish-speaking people into American culture and a reminder of the risk of cultural erasure. A burrito here is like a burrito there, and salsa and chips are everywhere.

And so it is with some relief that La Milpa doesn't call itself "authentic," but, rather, "real." Located out Hull Street Road just west of the Chippenham overpass, La Milpa is the kind of place you, while on your vacation in Baja, would hope to find when you ask where the locals go. La Milpa is part market and part truck stop. There is produce, from jicama to cactus, and dry goods like corn husks, chipotle corn chips and Mexican fried bread. There are hats, shirts and Mexican music CDs. At La Milpa, which has been open for nearly one year, you can send money to Mexico, and it's the only place I know where you can buy a Teletubby pinata.

But La Milpa also is part eat-in and carryout tacoria — more taco stand than restaurant — and home to the freshest tacos in town. Handmade, these delicate, 6-inch soft corn or flour tortillas come three to an order with pork, grilled steak, barbecue or marinated steak ($6.49), and topped with fresh onions and cilantro. On my first visit, while waiting for my order of alambre (steak, ham, bacon, onions, poblano peppers and melted cheese, $7.99), I was treated to a taste of taco de lengua (tongue) which, if you can get past the idea, is very good, especially with a healthy dose of their homemade tomatillo and jalapeno pepper sauce. There's also taco de tripa, which is exactly as it sounds.

All food orders at La Milpa, which means "the corn field," are taken at the counter, and they call your number when they're up. On a recent visit with a large group we sampled a variety of items from the menu including a mostly flavorless pozole (chicken, pork and hominy stew, $6.99), one of three stews featured only on weekends. The very large and spicy California burrito (steak, peppers, beans, cheese, $3.95) was a big hit, as was the enchilada verde (chicken smothered in tomatillo sauce, $4.99), both for their value and flavor. The sides of beans and rice are far superior to the flat-tasting bill of fare more commonly served elsewhere.

Other items on the menu include camarones y plantains (shrimp, bananas and rice in garlic sauce, $8.99); coctel de camaron con pulpo (shrimp-and-octopus cocktail, $7.99); and a variety of $3.99 combinaciones of tacos, enchiladas and burritos. That makes La Milpa not only good but a good deal.

And a welcome change from the same Mexican-American food found elsewhere. I'll be back once I figure out what to do with cactus, or maybe to try their weekend stews: Friday, gallina (chicken stew); Sunday, menudo (tripe — that is, stomach). Then again, maybe I'll leave that for those with stronger menudos.

La Milpa
6925 Hull Street Road
276-3391
Open every day 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Favorite

Latest in Miscellany

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Connect with Style Weekly

Newsletter Sign-Up

The Flash
The Bite
The Scoop

Most Popular Stories

  • Hooked

    Hooked

    How two Richmond friends assembled a president, rock stars and acclaimed outdoorsmen to produce a national love letter to fly fishing.
    • Dec 5, 2017
  • Word & Image: Spencer Young, Protester

    Word & Image: Spencer Young, Protester

    Water is Life Rally against fracking and pipeline projects in Virginia
    • Dec 5, 2017
  • Santa’s Cranky Cousin

    Santa’s Cranky Cousin

    Amid some charity and mirth, the punisher of naughty children returns.
    • Nov 28, 2017
  • The 2017 Holiday Almanac

    The 2017 Holiday Almanac

    From old-school Richmond traditions to handmade markets, winter fashion and filmmaker John Waters’ offbeat holiday tips, we’ve got the early holiday feels.
    • Nov 21, 2017
  • More »

Copyright © 2017 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation