Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Missing La Roca

S0me businesses are a victim of their own success. La Roca has become La Rockita and is located in a spacious, gleaming, restaurant a block from the old taqueria.

For many years La Roca was a fixture on the main drag through Philomath. The tiny building was crammed with a small kitchen, pop dispensers, and storage for beans and rice. No seating inside. Fortunately an aging roof shot out of one side of the building, supported by steel poles painted a hundred times, yet still showing numerous spots of rust. Under this canopy one could sit at small picnic tables adorned with plastic table cloths.

Ordering was an odd experience. You stooped before a small window. The relative gloom inside the restaurant combined with the screen on the window make it almost impossible to see who his taking your order. But immediately after the words leave your mouth, they are are shouted loudly and rapidly in Spanish. Soon the rushing noise of the soda dispenser assures you that your beverage is on its way.

But the best is yet to come.

Soon your name is shouted at a small side window and you are presented with a steaming, foil wrapped bundle. The multitude of delightful cooking smells from the take out window motivate you to rush back to your table and peel away the foil to reveal a burrito that looks just like any other, only larger. However, inside the bland flour tortilla exterior is a cornucopia of flavors, textures, and smells. Highly seasoned meats. Slow cooked beans. Vivid green guacamole with a perfect smooth, creamy texture.

From the first bite to the last, your mouth explodes with flavor.

As you eat, the pleasure is so great that the gritty highway traffic twenty feet from where you sit becomes a pleasant vista. The roar of passing log trucks may not quite drown out the local riff and raff telling sophomoric jokes at the next table, but your profound bliss allows you to see them as colorful and engaging.

The food is still great at La Rockita, and it is nice to be able to see the staff and chat with them. Nonetheless, I find myself missing La Roca.
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