Tuesday, August 14, 2007

El Progreso

For lunch today, my friends the Petitpain brothers and I headed to Rivers Ave to visit La Cabaña, a Mexican place we've passed many times, but never tried. It wasn't open yet, though, so we kept driving north along Rivers and turned onto Remount Rd, looking for another new place to check out. Also wanting to escape the heat, we passed a few taco trucks and eventually settled on a restaurant called El Progreso, situated next to an old strip mall which is home to a few other Latin-American businesses.

The dining room was busy, with a lot of the customers eating from the buffet. Our waitress spoke excellent English, and was able to easily answer the few questions we had. (When I asked for a translation of "cachete," though, she moved her eyes around as she searched for the word, then smiled, shrugged, and pinched her cheek.) The buffet did look pretty good, but we all ordered tacos and sopes from the menu; somehow tacos al pastor are always the first thing I want to try at a new place. Once we had ordered, we sat back at our corner table, drinking our agua de tamarindo and exchanging smiles with the women making tortillas in the kitchen while we waited for our food.

The pastor was alright, but quite different than any of us had tried before; it was a little more spicy and it seemed to be cooked in a sauce. (I asked the waitress whether this was a regional variation, but she didn't really have an answer.) Honestly, I doubt I would order it again. But the tortillas and the cachete on my sope were pretty good; between that and the warm atmosphere, and the promise of tamales de puerco on the buffet, I'm sure we'll visit again.

When we went to the counter to pay, I started to tell the woman at the cash register, what I'd ordered.

"Dos tacos y..."

"And one sope and an agua fresca?"

I smiled and said, "yeah."

Now thinking that she spoke English, I asked whether they were open every day of the week, but she only furrowed her brow and called our waitress over to answer. Sometimes there's a nice give and take to even an awkward conversation on the border.

On the way back downtown we stopped in at La Tapatia to try a churro and I picked up some pan dulce for breakfast tomorrow.

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