Iâ€™m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Nixa, Missouri.
Greetings from Nixa, Missouri
GPS 37.043198,-93.305648 Elev. 1308 ft.
I was wanting Mexican food, good Mexican food. Unfortunately itâ€™s nearly impossible to find anything decent in that vein hereabouts. It was truly my good fortune then that we tried a small restaurant Iâ€™d spotted tucked away in the corner of a puny, nondescript strip mall located just off Highway 160, called La Fiesta Nixa.
Although most of its menu is standard Mexican fare, I noticed an anomaly tucked under â€œSpecialty Dinnersâ€ and ended up having a real treat, one that I thought Iâ€™d never seen before: Lomito Saltado.
(As I was writing this I remembered seeing something similar on plates served at the Fina Estampa, a Peruvian restaurant located across Van Ness Avenue from the now-razed Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco. But those dishes were laden with pre-fab French fries; I hate pre-fab fries! As a result, I didn’t order it.)
Lomito Saltado is described in La Fiestaâ€™s menu as â€œA delicious Peruvian dish of beef steak, cooked with tomatoes, onions and fried potatoes, served with white rice and beans.â€ Because I wanted it picante (spicy) they added jalapeÃ±os to the mix.
The website Cuzco Eats describes it thusly: â€œ… a cross-cultural marriage of a beef stir fry with indigenous, Peruvian potatoes …. Translated literally, the name seems to mean â€œjumped loinâ€ or loin made to jump about.â€
A beef, tomato, onion and jalapeÃ±o combination is very common in Mexican/Latin cuisine, often served as fajitas or with a Ranchero sauce or somesuch. What makes Lomo (or Lomito) Saltado so different is that, in addition to the (real, not pre-fab) potatoes, is that it wasnâ€™t saucy. Moreover, it was seasoned very simply with salt and pepper, a bit of white vinegar, a dash of soy sauce and (I think) a squeeze of lime.
When my Lomito Saltado ($9.99) arrived it didn’t come quite as advertised. It was served with regular Spanish rice (rather than white) and a simple salad of lettuce, tomato and avocado, dressed with lime juice (rather than beans). I would’ve complained except I love lime juice (along with a dash of salt) on salad. And, what the hell, maybe they were out of white rice. Thankfully, it also contained realâ„¢ potatoes that, judging by the preparation time, were pre-cooked; I thought they were probably boiled and, blessedly, not French fried.
Needless to say, it was really tasty, truly a treat. The hint of vinegar gave the meat sort of tanginess that was quite wonderful. So good was it, in fact, that I let the Duke taste the leftovers. â€œHmm,â€ he said, then promptly nuked it with some Rooster sauce and ate all my freakinâ€™ food. Bastard!
My companion ordered her tried-and-true standby: A cheese enhilada with queso (cheese) sauce and beef taco combination, served with rice and beans ($6.99). I didnâ€™t taste them but, being as sheâ€™s pretty damn finicky about stuff, she had no complaints. On the contrary, after weâ€™d already wolfed down a basket of warm corn tortilla chips and a small carafe of La Fiestaâ€™s great salsa, she still ate well-over half of her meal.
In all, it was a pretty good meal. Still it wasnâ€™t a Mariscos Uruapan, easily the best Mexican restaurant Iâ€™ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. (Hint: Get the Filete Uruapan.) Then again, La Fiesta Nixa was 1600 miles closer.
And so we roll.
La Fiesta Nixa, 562 W. Mount Vernon, Nixa, Missouri
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.