(Each Friday of the Lent season, we’ll take a look at a great, local, and “meat-free” [ie, seafood] meal.)
Where to eat: La Palma (710 St Mary St, Thibodaux)
What to order: Pescado San Miguel
La Palma has been my favorite local Mexican restaurant for a few years now. I’ve always loved how small and casual the building is, how friendly the owner is as he walks around making sure everyone is satisfied, the incredible self-serve salsa bar, and the menu representing a good mix of the Tex Mex most people crave and more authentic offerings that you won’t find at other local Mexican joints. Of course, if you’re just interested in tacos, you’ll do better to get the real deal at La Estrella less than a minute down the road. But if you want salsa, beans, rice, and heaping chunks of carnitas, La Palma is your place.
This time of year, you might glance over at the menu’s seafood offerings, though. La Palma has a few Lent specials going at the moment, though the most prominently advertised one, the Cuban fish drizzled with fruit and honey, doesn’t sound all that appetizing. There’s also shrimp ceviche, a rarity for the area. If you’ve never had it and are feeling a bit adventurous, give it a try. Ceviche is simply raw seafood in lemon or lime juice, usually served with onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, and the like. The seafood lightly cooks in all the citrus, so while it might not look like the typical shrimp you’d expect during Lent, it’s perfectly edible and delicious. La Palma serves the dish with crackers and slices of avocado as well. It’s a great appetizer to share.
You don’t have to bother with a special for your meal, though. Get the Pescado San Miguel, a red fish filet drizzled with a tangy sauce (think spicy mayo at sushi restaurants). The meal comes with rice and the inexplicable choice between beans and a stuffed crab. I know there are people out there who love their precious refried beans, but how is this even a question? Yes, there are far better and meatier stuffed crabs out there, but when presented as an option against beans, there’s no contest.
Get the fish, pick the crab, order a Jarritos fruit-soda, and chow down on chips and salsa (hint: the green is the best) while you wait. Share a ceviche if you dare. It’s a great way to spend an hour on Friday night.