Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tamales At Chapala in Burtonsville

Two plain corn tamales
Three years in Los Angeles will leave a person with short patience for mosquitos and a longing for Mexican food like she used to get right outside her office.

Mrs. HowChow's long search is over.  For years, she has talked about the corn tamales that she used to eat at the farmer's market in Westwood.  Last weekend, we found them at Chapala in Burtonsville.

We just wanted a light lunch because we were late and already planning to meet friends for dinner in Baltimore.  So we ducked into the casual Chapala on the advice of our friend Scott, a professional chef who talked up the Tex-Mex food.

Yucca and chicharron
The corn tamales were spectacular.  They're steamed corn cakes, lightly sweet and served with a cream.  Imagine the lightest corn bread that you have ever eaten.  Now get a lighter texture and the full, mild flavor of corn.  Chapala serves them as an appetizer, either plain or filled with pork or chicken.  We paired them with a plate of fried yuca and chicharron -- chunks of boneless pork quickly fried and contrasted with a vinegary cole slaw.

Chapala seems like a serious restaurant, and our small lunch suggests that they're doing way more than standard Tex-Mex.  The menu has basics like burritos, enchiladas, tacos and fajitas.  But the kitchen was also doing fresh guacamole, a pan-fried rockfish, and a bunch of interesting-looking dishes with grilled steak and shrimp.  They have some $7 lunch combos, including a tamale special with meat, rice and beans.

We'll go back to Chapala, but we hit the new Xitomate in Columbia last night on a whim.  (Victoria had a 25-minute wait on a Monday night!)  Xitomate was very good.  Post to come.

Chapala Restaurant
15530 Old Columbia Pike (Rte 198)
Burtonsville, MD 20866

NEAR: This is on Rte 198 just west of Rte 29.  It's really easy to reach from Howard County.  You get off at the exit for Rte 198, then go through a traffic circle and drive along the old road past a garden center and the new Giant.  Turn right at the traffic light onto Rte 198, and Chapala is on the right.  Look for the new Roy Rogers at the intersection, and check out other restaurants along there, including a Maiwand Kabob outpost, Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine, and Cuba de Ayer.

Chapala Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

My wife and I love Chapala and go there on a regular basis. The pupusas with vinegar slaw are great, and they even do mole veggie enchiladas. Never had a bad meal there. On Fridays and Saturdays evenings, they have a duo playing guitar and singing.

Grubarazzi said...

I must go here ASAP!