Nearly four years ago, I wrote a piece about the “taco row” in Clarksville, Ind., in a stretch where I spent my formative years.
Either I drove right past La Loma, located in a former fast-food joint, or it wasn’t quite open yet. Regardless, a friend mentioned La Loma to me, so I checked out the online reviews and quickly knew I had to go.
Billed by enthusiasts as outstanding California-style Mexican — focusing on fresh ingredients and often seafood — La Loma delivers, with an expansive menu categorized by styles and meats.
While the place is small-ish and doesn’t look terribly inviting from the outside, inside, it’s a warm environment with yellow walls, wood accents and some cool Equipale-style chairs in the dining room.
My girlfriend, Cynthia, and I settled into a two-top table and were soon greeted by a friendly server who brought us waters, menus and chips and salsa, the latter of which was clearly house-made and had a nice flavor and kick.
A good sign for things to come.
But deciding on what to have for dinner was not easy — the menu offered everything from classic street tacos to seafood cocktails to the Steak Loma, a house special that features pan-seared ribeye steak in verde sauce, with vegetables, rice and beans.
Cynthia finally landed on an enchilada platter called the “enchiladas super rancheras” that promised five different enchiladas topped with guajillo salsa, cotija cheese, salsa fresca, sour cream drizzle and more. For my part, I had to try one of the lengua tacos, and the shrimp ceviche kept calling my name, even though the temperatures had dropped into the 20s and snow swirled in the street outside our window.
We started the meal with an order of guacamole, which several Google reviewers had proclaimed the best they’d ever tasted. The large order came out with an extra basket of chips, and we quickly knew we were in for a treat.
It might have been the chunkiest guacamole I’ve ever had, with a preponderance of fresh vegetables, leafy cilantro and creamy chunks of avocado. In short, it was delicious, and it’s a must-try if you go to La Loma.
Cynthia’s food came out first, and both our eyes popped at the size of the platter placed before her. She quickly started trying to figure out which enchilada was which from a selection of cheese, potato, steak, chicken and beans.
The dish was as beautiful as it was ample, with a thick layer of cotija and neatly distributed sour cream.
Taste-wise, it matched its appearance, with an enchilada flavor neither of us had tasted before. She raved about the potato enchilada that also was a new one to us — and I admit, the bite I had was quite good. She managed to finish about two-thirds of the plate of food before giving in and requesting a to-go box.
Meanwhile, my lengua taco was good, with big, tender chunks of beef tongue, and the requisite onions and cilantro, in a double corn tortilla that was as fresh as any I’ve had. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but certainly worthy, and I drizzled an accompanying thin-bodied roja salsa on top that brought a nice peppery heat.
The ceviche was outstanding, served with a basket of crispy, thick corn tortillas and garnished by five cucumber slices drizzled with the aforementioned spicy roja.
It was topped with thin slices of avocado and filled with citrus-infused chunks of tender shrimp, tomatoes, cilantro, onions and cucumbers; I didn’t get close to finishing it all. Sure, it might have been a strange choice on such a cold day — “It tastes like summer,” Cynthia said after taking a bite — but I had no regrets.
Once it was all said and done, we’d spent less than $30 on what probably qualifies as a Mexican feast that also came with a warm atmosphere and friendly service. Not bad for a little, out-of-the-way joint in Clarksville, and it was well worth our trip across the bridge on a chilly evening.
La Loma is located at 560 Eastern Blvd. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. The restaurant has a full bar as well as a children’s menu.