Tortilla Flat

El Tamarindo's a long way from Monsanto

By the time the three of us had polished off this huge plate, plus three soft chicken-filled tacos (much improved by the addition of pickled jalapeños, chopped marinated tomatoes, and the sweetish sour cream), we couldn't believe we still had three entrées coming. You get to choose two side dishes with each entrée — black beans, rice, cassava, sweet plantains, tostones. Tamarindo's black beans and rice are scrumptious — the rice pillowy soft and slick with butter, the beans hearty and salty, retaining their form and texture.

We had no quibbles with our entrées. A tilapia fillet was fresh and sweet, lightly sauced with sautéed tomato and onions. There were fat, buttery caramelized plantains to go along with it. The palomilla steak was a thin, flat, peppery plank of sirloin, heavily marinated in salt, garlic, and oil, given a toss in a pan, and smothered with warm, wilted, pickled onions. Marinated strips of beef, crunchy green peppers, tomato, and onions comprised a fajita gleaming with oil in a rich brown sauce. You spooned this into warmed tortillas, balancing the whole on your palm. Then a quick fold and it was in your mouth, offering a clear, if temporary, way out of suffering.

Joe Rocco

We must have been insane to order this much food, we told each other through mouthfuls of garlic bread soaked in chimichurri. We wiped our oily lips on the cloth napkins and ordered more Dos Equis. The looming shadow of Monsanto had receded. At the table behind us, well into his wine, a man with a German accent insisted again and again: "I love my life."

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