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Just Opened - New Mexican in Old Batavia

La Bamba Mexican Restaurant 23 N Riverside Dr.
222/Main Batavia Oh 45103

I Batavia’s new ‘La Bamba Mexican Restaurant’ has a fresh clean look. Once inside and seated, I found the menu very Ameri-Mexi. A 25 item listing of “Dinner Combinations” featuring; enchilada, taco, burrito, chili relleno, chalupa combos and many more with beans & rice ($8.50). A 31 item listing of steak, chicken, shrimp and fajita dinners ($8.99-13.49). A 25 item listing of “La Bamba Dinner Specials”; chimichanga, burritos, enchiladas, taco salads, nachos and a few other house dishes are all priced at or under $10. That’s not even counting the 14 item lunch menu list ($5-8). Big massive Ameri-Mex menu.
They offer lots but I have always judged Mexican fare by the humble, overlooked and often forgotten taco. When done right, it can be more addictive than late night white cheddar popcorn. The real deal recipe is simple, yet true to form examples are rare. Two grilled soft corn tortillas (some only use one if they’re thick), spiced meat & onion, topped with a splash of simple sauce and a handful of cilantro. Served with limes (and sometimes radishes) of course. Light, bright & beautiful.
I explained my good taco desires to the nice server at La Bamba, several times. “Tacos hencho en casa amigo... no crunchy gringo tacos... ok? “Yep” he assured me with a nod. “Do you make the tamales here... Hencho en casa tamale? Again, “Yep” a smile and a nod. Cool. A taco, tamale and a burrito combo ($8.50). It came out smelling good, but looking all too familiar. Right off I fought back a powerful urge to hurl that hard shell hard into the kitchen, politely pay, and then leave. I ate it anyway. Eerily it drug up long lost memories of my high school tacos (I forgot about those until then). To be fair El Rancho Rodeo Grande cooks would say it’s fine, or even ‘quite good’ perhaps. La Mexicana cooks would just laugh. So did I.
My veggie burrito was a veggie fajita stuffed into a flour tortilla rolled halfway into a burrito (with open ends). Not near sturdy enough to hold or pick up. I assume you’re not supposed to anyway as it was covered in melted cheese. Flavors were bright and spiced. Peppers & onions were fresh and well cooked but oddly missing the beans and rice listed on the menu. Great flavors, sloppy forkfuls of cheesy goodness. But far from par with the current Big as a Baby burrito fascination.
The hencho en casa (made in house) tamale was difficult to say for certain if it was bought in or not. On one hand the corn mix was a bit dry & dense, common in frozen foods. The single chunk of savory pot roasted pork that ran the length of the center said otherwise. It was 50/50. Maybe homemade, then home frozen. Better than many I’ve tried but not ready for any award nominations. Who am foolin’ I’d happily eat half a dozen and love every bite. I wished I had a couple more because neither beans nor rice came with this particular combo (as it does with many).
All in all the taco & the tamale were a good test. La Bamba showed me the usual Ameri-Mexi everybody else serves (and maybe a bit above the rest with the tamale). Many of those joints rake in the cash, so maybe that’s the way to go, 86 the authenticity... please the masses. If you dig El Ranchito Grande Cancun Mexican you might find better food here at Batavia’s La Bamba than up the hill at the bigger places. It’s worth your while. If your looking for Mama’s Mexican, look deeper or look elsewhere.
I wish they’d scrap the whole menu, serve only fresh corn tortilla grilled tacos and big fat burritos (as good as Chipotle but toddler sized!). Heap sides of steaming rice and pinto soup beans on every dinner order. Keep the whole deal under $8. Then, watch the diners sigh and the good reviews fly. Not to mention attract the Mexican diners. Ever see tables of Mexicans eating along side you at your local El Rancho? They know where to go.
It would probably last less than a minute though because the big fake Mexi joints are big because you all prefer it to the real deal. I just wish someone did both. Tacos at the least. They have everything to make them, they just don’t believe we would pay for anything that doesn’t look like a bigger better version of Taco Bell. Ridiculous. Even on request they fall short on authenticity. An owner from an up & coming Mexican chain I know makes me real tacos on request. I asked him “Why not put these on the menu and see if people like the real thing?” He said “If I put “real” tacos on the menu what would I say the others are?” I replied... “Gringo Tacos!” He laughed and said, “No no, we keep them the same.” Damn shame.
My opinion is one thing but the masses tastes are more important. If you tried out Batavia’s new La Bamba post your take on our site ( and share your La Bamba experience. I bet from the glimpse of good food I ate, there may be something truly good hidden in the vast expanses of their menu. If you’ve dug it out, shout it out would ya’.


Comments (3)

Topic: labamba.html
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarHalf Star 4.5/5 (2)
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Ginny says...
Grin I find their food to be just as good as some of the other Mexican/TexMex restaurants in this area. Their prices are reasonable, and they are very accomadating. We usually get carry-out and they have NEVER messed up an order, and the food is always hot and yummy. Mexican is my FAVORITE food, and so the only thing that would make La Bamba better for ME, is if they delivered!!! Cool
9th June 2013 4:51pm
Eric says...
For real mexican, Taqueria Maya next to Toyota Kings Auto Mall, Lenscrafter at Fields Ertler. On this one, they eat next to you, not just Mexican!
23rd February 2013 9:11pm
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robert.s says...
This article sucks. Why don't you like the tacos? The tacos in my high school were awesome!
2nd February 2013 3:51pm
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