Monday, December 21, 2009

La Tenampa Mexican Restaurant | Duncan, B.C. | 2A-5838 Trans Canada Highway | 250.701.0175

So I guess this is where I start off the review by making some joke about skids and rednecks and small town life in Duncan right? WRONG! I'm tired of all these lazy-ass fleece vest wearing writer types thinking they're some kind of Dave Barry because they made a no-teeth joke when writing about a small town. Friday Pizza Hut Buffet pretty much makes Duncan an oasis on this island, and I won't use its people to generate a few hacky hyucks.

Conveniently located across the parking lot from Pizza Hut in Duncan is Le Tenampa Mexican Restaurant: a good go-to buffet for when you've accidentally trekked up island on a Thursday instead of a Friday.

The buffet here is mostly filled with build-your-own taco/fajita/burrito fix-ins, but there are a few stand alone items as well. The "Mexican Lasagna", essentially beef mixed with Taco Time seasoning and topped with cheese, is absolutely perfect for piling on top of taco chips and making your own haystacks: we're talking pretty primo comfort food here. I didn't sample the pasta salad or the cornbread, but Auggie assured me that both were fairly top notch by buffet standards. A mild chili which consists mostly of beef and kidney beans is decent, but not good enough to make me choose it over the lasagna or other items.

Fajita vegetables, Mexican rice, re-fried beans, as well as shredded (and ground) beef and chicken are your main taco filler options here. The shredded beef is the definite winner as far as meat options go, while the re-fried beans and Mexican rice were both fresh and, though simple, tasted much better than offerings I have encountered at similar restaurants. The soft shell tacos at La Tenampa leave something to be desired, but the fajita shells are good, standard fare. To get the most out of this buffet though, you'd be well advised to ditch housing units all together as this will free up space in your stomach.

House made salsa and guacamole are available at the salad bar and both are decent. At the very least the guacamole beats Yucatan, and the salsa was the sort of simple mix you might make for yourself at home. Enchilada sauce is also available, but it's not exactly bursting with boldness and heat; I'd recommend sticking to sour cream and salsa.

Last, but not least, tater tots and mojo potatoes are a very welcome addition to this buffet. Although I associate mojos more with fried chicken, the tots do a good job of rounding out the whole fresh, non-crappy Taco Time vibe this place has. La Tenampa is just a flat-out great place to enjoy the fun and friendly feel that a good buffet spot generates.

Jimmy Nguyen Offers Up a Short Essay on Mexican Social Mores!!!!

After being couped up in the ride way the fuck up to Duncan in the back of a beater, I was just glad to get out and let the blood rush back into my legs before they cramped up: finding my way into the restaurant was only a secondary concern. The past few weeks leading up to this trip haven't been particularly kind to me in terms of weather, so I needed some temporary relief in the form of food to at least take my mind somewhere tropical. As you can see I was happier than a Mexican who just got a green card when I stepped through the doors of La Tenampa.

We stood for a moment in front of the buffet line—dazed by the choices presented to us. Meat dishes of all kinds were available, well sort of—a fair portion of them were beef variations.

What the deuce, we've gone too far to turn back now! I loaded up my plate(s) and made my way back to the table, anticipating a hearty feast as the wind and cold raged on outside. I swear the moment I brang the spoon up to my lips, ready to line up the first bite, I could hear the mariachi band playing the tunes in my head (and what a delightful feeling that was). The cheese was nicely melted on the ground beef, the limited selection of vegetables were compensated for by the freshness and preparation, and the serious supplies of other side features make this a truly ass-kicking build-your-own taco experience. I still can't get over how crunchy the taco gets with a simple combination of Mexican lasagna and tater tots.

I blinked and four plates found their way to my side of the table and back. Needless to say, even I was impressed that I could put that much buffet food into my system (and for once feel like it wouldn't do any gastro-intestinal damage).

Our entourage left the place with readjusted belt sizes, an extra few pounds each, and the feeling of a huge Mexican party going on in our stomachs. A straight-up fiesta with Mexican dudes drinking beer and cracking jokes while Paco takes a whack at the pinata, only to deliver an embarrassing miss and have all the chicas and mamacitas laugh at him. I wouldn't have left if not for the fact that there was no more room in my belly. The only thing I could think about in regards to these partiers was "I'll be back, pendejos!"

Price For Lunch: $11.50 (after tax)
Rating: 3.9


Jake said...

Glad to see a new post! Please keep 'em coming!

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Anonymous said...

I think that the description on this restaurant will make me try it out for the first time myself. It is interesting when you know a place by another name and are unsure if you should go in when it is some place new. The old Taco Time is now La Tenampa Mexican Restaurant and I want to try it. Thank you for your excellent write up.
From a resident of Duncan BC

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