Talk about a melting pot. The dish sold as "Molcajete" at La Plaza Tapatia is an utterly over-the-top (as in literally spilling over a giant bowl) sizzling hot combo of all kinds of meats, shrimp, veggies and, heck, there might've been a sink from la cocina in there too.
La Plaza Tapatia is the cut-loose restaurant that sits in a huge West Side Mexican supermarket bearing the same name. Both are well worth a visit, as neither bustling business is overwhelmed with gringos. In other words, they're about as authentically Mexican as you get around these Northern parts.
La Plaza Tapatia - the eatery - might be faintly dingy, but it's fun and cheery, especially on weekends, when roving musicians serenade the packed and ebullient place. For visuals, there's an arcaded city-square facade so typical for Mexican restaurants these days, plus sleepy village scene artworks and a huge standout mural that looks like a mammoth still from a Sam Peckinpah flick.
Speaking of mammoth, La Plaza Tapatia thoroughly embraces bigness - bigness of menu, of dish portions and of flavor. And no item is larger than the delicious and monstrously gigantic Molcajete.
A molcajete is the "cup" portion of a mortar-and-pestle combo fashioned out of volcanic rock. Dating back to Pre-Columbian times, molcajetes are still used these days to make guacamole, salsas and pound out mole sauces.
Recently, "molcajetes" have been popping up as food items on local Mexican restaurant menus. And in those guises, they're supersized receptacles holding a boatload of grilled fajita-like goodies.
La Plaza Tapatia's ultra-voluminous version ($18) is really special. Served with just-made-in-house, warm and supple corn tortillas, it's packed with:
A racy chorizo sausage approximately the size of a bratwurst
Blistered whole jalapenos that will set you aflame
Nopalitos - large, defanged cactus paddles that taste intriguingly tangy and have a slippery, okra-like texture
Sweet and savory, inhalable, bulbous little onions
Carne asada - thin, inexpensive cuts of beef that taste wonderful
Fresh-tasting, big, head-on shrimp
A tender, boneless chicken breast cutlet
Juicy little pork chops
Warning: Anyone even thinking of eating the stunning entirety of this deliciousness by their lonesome should immediately seek counseling - or call me to help them.