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Hit This Pinata

Our Royal Foodie realizes why this popular Mexican restaurant packs ‘em in. It’s not just the tequila.

I really don’t like restaurants with eight-page menus that have 500 items and an endless list of options that make your selection challenging at best. I often spend way too much time reading everything and taking entirely too long to decide what I want to eat in fear that I will miss out on something spectacular or worse, hate the dish I do settle on.

So it is completely expected that I would hate and Tequila Bar and would never want to go back. Sadly, I must amend my outlook on such restaurants—and menus— however, and just plan on going back more often to try more dishes.

I was impressed at the extensive American breakfast menu but also happy to see that there is an extensive selection of Mexican breakfast items served with tortillas, rice and beans (refried, whole or black). That alone will require several visits to get a good grip on a La Piñata breakfast. It appears to be able to hold its own against some of the best breakfasts in Concord.

Lunch and dinner open a plethora of options that are sure to please the palate and the wallet as well as all the picky eaters in your party. Dining options include appetizers, caldos (soups), burritos, hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, entrees, meat and poultry specialties, a la carte dishes, Caldos de Mariscos (seafood stews), Platillos de Camaron (prawn dishes) and Seafood Specialties. This is a daunting list of possibilities and normally makes me run out the door. But once I started analyzing the dishes, I developed an interest, and once I tasted the food, I was sold!

We ordered some guacamole to start. Three scoops of house-made guacamole are served with warm chips and a slightly spicy salsa. I was pleasantly surprised by the freshness of the guacamole with chopped tomatoes and onions and the warm chips were a home run. I wish I had also ordered the Queso Fundido – chorizo, melted cheese and mushrooms served with warm tortillas— the oven-baked oysters with a special sauce and cheese, or shrimp cooked in lime juice and onions and jalapenos. Next visit.

Besides burgers and sandwiches, the menu features traditional Mexican fare such as tortilla soup, Menudo, and tortas. The Super Famoso Burrito would satisfy the biggest of appetites, as it’s topped with guacamole, sour cream, enchilada sauce and cheese served with rice and beans and Cheeseburgers and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

Entrees feature the traditional Mexican fare you find in many restaurants with such options as tacos, chimichangas, enchiladas, tamales, flautas and Quesadillas. They are stuffed with your choice of chicken, steak, shredded beef and pork, or vegetarian. The menu also offers 13 combinations of these items all served with rice and beans. These meals are a terrific value as they are a lot of food for roughly $12 bucks. You can also get sizzling platters of fajitas or meat dishes that combine steak, chicken or pork with vegetables and various sauces such as mole, tequila sauces or spicy Diablo hot sauce. As you can imagine by now, the combination possibilities are fairly exponential and we haven’t even broached the seafood options yet.

The seafood page of the menu offers up some interesting selections that are sure to please the most discerning palates. For example, the Pescado, which plates a whole red snapper battered and fried to perfection and served with either hot or garlic sauces, is generally a dish reserved for Asian restaurants. The La Piñata version is hearty and wonderfully presented. When that big bonus finally arrives, splurge for the Mariscada Platter – grilled prawns, octopus, calamari, scallops, fish fillet, green mussels, crab legs, and clams all for a measly $43.59 for the large platter.

If you’re a fan of Seafood Cocktails, you MUST try them at La Piñata. They are served in 22 oz. glass schooners and are chock full of shrimp, clams, octopus or a combination of all three floating in a spicy cocktail sauce with diced onions, tomatoes, cilantro, cucumber and avocado.

I opted to try the Seafood Cazuela, a pottery dish loaded with clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops covered with cheese and roasted in a fiery salsa with cactus and served with three tortillas. The Cazuela can be ordered with any of the house-featured meats all covered with melted cheese in a fiery salsa and cactus. The seafood cazuela goes to a new place when the seafood’s juices are released and marry with the roasted salsa. I left nothing and I didn’t even have a spoon. I used the clam shell to scoop every last drop. I highly recommend this dish.

La Piñata also has a diverse catering menu that has reasonable prices for the amount of food you get and would be a fun addition to your next party or office luncheon. It is open late into the early morning mainly because it has not one but two large bar areas serving countless tequilas. I would like to work my way through all of them too! Don’t worry about over doing it, though. Right outside the restrooms is a Breathalyzer for you to see if you are able to drive home. Use it and stay a while longer and then call a cab. You’ll be glad you did.

La Piñata Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar has seven locations throughout the Bay Area and, in my book, qualifies as a chain restaurant. However, this is one chain I won’t soon break. I say you should check it out.

La Piñata

Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar
2301 Willow Pass Rd.
Concord, CA 94520
Phone:  925.609.9119
Email:  www.lapinataconcord.com

Hours

Mon - Fri, 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Sat, Sun, 8 a.m. to 3 a.m.

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