A Place to Taco Bout
The big hand finally strikes twelve and we all know what that means – lunch! This time the Food Dude Crew decided to take the party south of the border. Literally. Today we had the opportunity to visit ‘La Fiesta’, an authentic local Mexican joint so good you won’t need Tequila to have the time (or meal) of your life.
If there is any truth to Belinda Carlisle’s 1987 smash hit ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’, it’s a tiny house across the street from Noble Park neatly tucked away from the rest of the world. It’s time to blow the lid off of one of Paducah’s best-kept secrets so the entire community can partake in the epic dishes curated by this cultural food-based phenomenon. As we made our way up the winding wooden walkway past the giant “Tacos” banner blowing in the wind, I could feel my stomach performing ‘La Bamba’ live for the rest of my organs. Finally, the door opened and I knew the magic was about to begin. To my surprise, this place was MORE than just a dominating tour de force of Mexican cuisine. While one side housed the kitchen and dining area, the other was set up as a marketplace filled with a wide variety of Spanish goods. I felt like a kid in a candy shop basking in the cultural diversity. They even offer a service of sending money back to those whose families are still living away in Hispanic countries.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of what separates this place from your average joe taco joint, we need to delve into the ‘La Fiesta’ backstory and take a glimpse behind the las cortinas.
Joel Alanis migrated to the United States from La Piedad Michoacan, alongside his brother-in-law with the intent of opening up a restaurant. After saving up enough money, they chose the Western Kentucky region as the primary spot for their food business. Not long after, Los Pinos became their first location in the town of Mayfield. The family-owned business thrived for several years until 2010 when Antonia, Joel’s son, decided to start a restaurant of his own. Together with his wife Araceli, they decided it was time to make their dream a reality. In 2014, La Fiesta was born in the pequeño pueblo paraíso of Paducah, Kentucky. When he’s not in class at WKCTC, you can also find Marco, the son of Antonia and Araceli, helping out where he can. Now that you know a little more about their roots, it’s time to get into the real la carne y las papas.
Tacos de Barbacoa
Going to a Mexican restaurant and NOT getting tacos would be the equivalent of going on a date and forgetting to get the girl. You just don’t do that. That being said, the first order of business was to evaluate their taco swag, so I ordered three barbeque tacos, their most popular option. Remember the over-the-top dance numbers Scooby Doo would perform each time he was given a Scooby Snack? They pale in comparison to what was going on with my taste buds at the time of my taco-to-stomach delivery. The yellow corn tortillas were soft and warm against the roof my mouth as I took bite after bite of the cilantro, onion, seasoned meat combo until there was nothing left.
Next in line to tango with my taste buds was the Torta Cubana, a Mexican style Cuban Sandwich. According to Marco, this is a dish made for meat lovers. I had a feeling this was going to tip the scales for me (in more than one way) because Cubans are already in my list of top five favorite sandwiches. I was not wrong. The blend of meats (beef, chicken, and pork), spices, and seasonings coupled with the sharp jalapeno and mustard flavor threw me into a whirlwind of bliss. If you’re someone that seeks out larger portions than THIS one is for you. Once it was gone my stomach began to feel like the Day of the Dead, and just like the holiday, it was something to be celebrated.
Marisco & Beef Soup
Of all the profound tastes and smells I had experienced thus far, none of them prepared me for what was to come next. I completely forgot how full I was as a distinct and powerful aroma coming from the kitchen made my nose hairs stand on end. I was immediately ready for more. I watched as Araceli brought out two steaming bowls filled to the brim with broth. The first bowl, the beef soup, contained tender beef still on the bone, half a cob of corn, cabbage, zucchini, carrots, and cilantro in a special bouillon. There is no exaggeration when I say it was hands down the best soup I had tasted…yet. I took a swig of my Sangria Senorial (because you don’t go to a restaurant called ‘La Fiesta’ and refuse a bottle of sangria flavored soda if it’s an option) and turned my attention to the Marisco. The sea-faring concoction consisted of shrimp, oysters, scallops, fish, potatoes, and scallops all in another special brew. This was not your run-in-the-mill “flavored” broth. The oysters were still in the shell and the shrimp still had their legs and whiskers attached. I was completely awe-stricken as to how vastly different the two bowls smelled and tasted. I can confidently say this, If you’re in the mood for soup, you’ve definitely come to the right place.
As my Mexican adventure came to a close, a feeling of joy and relief came over me. Joy that I was able to have the opportunity to experience such a fantastic feat of culinary skill, and the relief of being able to live in a community that welcomes such cultural diversity. The next time you’re in the mood for the most authentic Mexican in town, you know where to go. In the future, La Fiesta plans to have a juice dispenser available to the public with three unique flavors: Orchata (rice water), Tamarind (sweet tangy fruit), and Jamaica (flower based water with a bittersweet flavor reminiscent to that of cranberry juice). We asked the Alanis family if they had anything they would like to say to the people of Paducah, and this is what they had to say.
Thank you to the entire Paducah community for coming out to support our business! We appreciate you and love seeing new faces each day!
To all the other food dudes and dudettes out there, I wish you a ‘Barriga llena, corazón contento’. As always, chow!