9943 Lifeline Court
Mobile, AL 36608
I can’t say I am completely unfamiliar with Honduran food. No, I’ve not visited the country, but I used to frequent Los Arcos on Old Shell and held their Honduran/Indian fusion menu in high regard. The tamales wrapped in banana leaves was a favorite as was the Tico taco. There has recently been some buzz about a Honduran restaurant in West Mobile, so, of course, I had to see if the cuisine was as good as I recalled.
First off, you probably know I don’t have much desire to travel west on Airport Boulevard. My disdain for that road is compounded if I have to make the journey during lunchtime. Imagine my excitement when I found the directions led me to a shopping center just off of Snow Road. That’s a commitment if you’re coming from downtown, so I figured I’d better call ahead to make sure they were open. I couldn’t find a phone number anywhere on the internet, so Rob and I, with Baby Henry in tow, decided to chance it.
It took somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 minutes at noon on a Thursday.
We make it into the place, which has large pictures of certain menu items on the windows, one of which was an attractive bowl of soup. Rob commented it looked promising and I knew we’d be arguing over who gets it. The three of us walk in and sit at a booth with a wood-topped table branded with Sonny’s BBQ logos. We strapped Henry into a broken high chair and took in the atmosphere. It wasn’t much to look at, but didn’t bother us.
Rob tried to get a jump on the soup, but was told they only serve it on the weekends. Darn.
The starters menu had our attention. Our waiter led us toward the costeno ($7.99). Imagine a giant plantain fried and filled with ground beef and topped with cabbage. I’ve never really had anything like it. We decided the Hondurans sort of use plantains the way we use potatoes. I loved the pickled vegetables, cold but spicy against the hot beef and neutral flavors of the plantain. We were happy to add more hot sauce, but the weak-tongued would call it hot.
I was certainly happy to find the tamal ($2.99) similar to the one I mentioned earlier. Wrapped in banana leaves, this pale, flatter version was actually stuffed with chicken and veggies, most notably peas. Far larger than the ones you find at Mexican restaurants, I loved it. Rob didn’t say much, but after we split it I noticed him scraping the dish in which it arrived.
It would be easy for me to order nothing but tamales and beer while watching football, but at Honduran Kitchen you may have to settle for soccer. We made a game of counting the seconds it took for an announcer to spit out the word “Goal!” every time a team scored. I think the record was around 32 Mississippis.
Henry was ravenous despite being under the weather. He ordered a mini pupusa ($2.99). Neither Rob nor I could say we’d ever heard of it, but I admired his adventurous spirit. It’s corn dough, grilled and filled with cheese, about the size of a small pancake. You can get a larger size with a choice of filling, but this was just right for him. He finished the pupusa, but didn’t touch his sides of onions, cabbage and tomatoes.
The bistek ($11.99) was recommended when we found out they were out of pinchos. It’s grilled steak with onions served with a cold purée of black beans, cabbage and plantains, plus a slice of cheese and avocado. At worst it was a little tough, but that didn’t stop us. With hot sauce the steak and onions were really good. I’m not sure if the beans were supposed to be cold, but if so, I’d change that. The cheese was so good it made up for any shortcomings that may have presented themselves.
The big menu item which our waiter says everyone loves is the tajadas ($11.99). Here is the unexpected part — it’s fried chicken. First off, you have fried green bananas. Pickled cabbage and onion topped with Honduran aderezo and cheese is the description, but they failed to mention it’s the best fried chicken this side of Kentucky. The leg alone was big enough to tip the scales, but the thigh was so big the major leagues would have tested it for steroid use.
It wasn’t the size that impressed us, though. The breading, the flavor, the heat from the onions, all of it came together to make this dish my favorite amongst other good ones. We were all enjoying it, even Baby H, who couldn’t handle the veggies, but loved pinches of the yardbird next to tidbits of his mashed plantains and pupusa.
I’d be lying if I told you I was going to fight the traffic to Snow Road with any regularity, but if you’re inclined, or live closer than I, then by all means make this one of your regular stops. Yes, the ambience is lacking. Yes, you’ll be using napkins you haven’t used since a 1970s picnic, but there is still a certain charm to it. Honduran food has its own flavor for sure, and despite a couple similarities, is not much like Mexican food once you get down to it. The tamales are better. The use of cotija reminds me of street food, which I love. It’s enough for me to commit to an occasional drive westward.
Closed Monday and Tuesday, they’re open every other day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Don’t take my complaints too seriously. It’s a positive mark on the scoreboard. Say it with me: GOOOAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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