La Bamba – Portage Avenue

La Bamba Café & Lounge on Urbanspoon

La Bamba on Portage is now closed

Seeking a change for lunch, I ventured north from the church and decided to take a look at the little restaurant tucked away at 285 Portage Avenue, between Smith and Donald Streets.  There has been a little restaurant in this location for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never paid any attention to them.  The current tenant is La Bamba, one of three locations in the city(they also have one in Saskatoon), specializing in authentic Mexican food.

This post comes with no photos, and part of the reason for that will come in the review below.  The other part is that I’m a less than average photographer.  So here goes:

Value:  As you might guess from reading my posts, I’m a guy who likes a bargain, so I was a little disappointed when I looked at the lunch menu and found that other than the soup for $4.99, all other items were either $11.99 or $12.99.  However, it turns out that the lunch size portions are more than adequate as dinner sized portions. You are definitely getting full value for your money.  4.5/5

Selection:  The lunch menu only has six entrees, plus the soup, but since they offer vegetarian, vegan along with beef and chicken alternatives, the number of combinations is quite a bit higher.  I went for the Beef Tostada.  They also offer a wide selection of beverages.  4/5

Quality:  The food was of very high quality, and fresh.  The meal came with a basket of what appeared to be home made tortilla chips along with a nicely piquant green salsa.  Along with the Tostada, which contained chipotle beef that had just the right amount of zip and a texture very similar to pulled pork, there was a serving of lightly seasoned rice and refried beans, that while maintaining the texture I associated with refried beans, had a flavour that was more akin to pork and beans. 4.5/5

Decor:  The restaurant layout is long and narrow, and is painted in orange and black.  This leads to my one complaint.  As I generally dine alone, I like to take a book with me to read, but he lighting was so dim that it made reading unpleasant.  This also contributed to the pictures not turning out well.  Otherwise, the pictures on the wall and the Lucha Libre masks behind the bar, lend the place an air of colour and fun.  It would definitely have a different feel if you were dining with company in the evening. 4/5

Service:  The service was reasonably efficient and friendly. 4/5

Overall:  While I think the food is excellent, I don’t think I would return there during the lunch hour, but it’s a good place to gather with friends for dinner.
4.5/5

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