La Esperanza Mexican Restaurant, Odessa, TX

We (my family with whoever else we were with at the time) ate at La Esperanza Mexican Restaurant twice in November, and I am upset with myself for only having been there once before. Don’t walk in expecting fancy, because fancy ain’t what they do. The service, while both pleasant and accurate, is also a little bit slow. However, one does not go to La Esperanza for fancy digs while an overpriced maitre’d brings him a warm towel with which to remove the soil from his delicate hands. One goes because the food is fantastic, and this trip was no exception. These two photos give you a pretty decent idea of what to expect:

The front lobby of La Esperanza.
The front lobby of La Esperanza.
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The view into La Esperanza from the front lobby. We ate early, so it wasn’t busy.

Like I said, we had eaten there once before. The first time we had a split verdict: Three of us really liked our meals, and our older son did not. In his defense, he was correct: His hamburger was way too dry. Learning from experience, however, we ordered different stuff this time and hit the jackpot. Various ones of us had chicken fajitas, a steak in spanish sauce, and something off the kid’s menu in the first return trip. We also ordered some guacamole and helped ourselves to rather a lot of chips and salsa. On the second trip, I also ordered the huevos divorciados. Of all the things we tried, three dishes were particular standouts. The first was the chili con asadero– cut up chili peppers which wouldn’t be hot to any self-respecting Texan combined with asadero cheese. Mrs. Texan Abroad had that, and it looked like this:

Chili con asadero at La Esperanza
Chili con asadero at La Esperanza.

The beans and rice which came with this dish were nice, but somewhat superfluous. Still, you could add them to the cheese and chilis to form a lovely taco if you were so inclined. One could also scoop some of the cheesy goodness up with a chip, although one would be well advised to ask the permission of one’s wife before he did so. Theoretically. I’m just saying, don’t try to steal delicious food. It ends badly.

I, on the other hand, had the pork chop on the first trip. I had some of it, anyway, as everyone else at the table had some. Oddly, the rule about not stealing food from Mrs. Texan Abroad did not seem to apply to me. Fortunately, the portion was still so huge that I made a decent breakfast of it the following day. The experience was so good that on the second trip (my older son and my brother in law) ordered it for themselves. The word “pork chop” here is difficult for those who grew up thinking of that as a single hunk of meat served next to grits or something else good to eat. Rather, what I got was essentially pork fajitas. I. Don’t. Care. The pork was both completely cooked and completely moist, and that is a hard combination to pull off. It looked like this:

Pork chop at La Esperanza.
Pork chop at La Esperanza.

The huevos divorciados had something of a different presentation than I normally see. Typically, you will see two eggs presented separately (hence why they are divorced, or “divorciados”) with a bit of green chile on one and red chile on another. On this trip, I was presented with a giant platter of meat in sauce– half red, half green. Where the two sauces met two eggs were fried together and placed on top. However, the flavor was simply amazing. I am normally more of a green chile fan, and their green chile was indeed very good. However, I think the red chile may have been even better.

This place is neither particularly cheap nor particularly expensive. It is where a family goes to have a nice meal. It also suffers from the lack of a full bar, although the beer is rumored to be cold. Go for the delicious food, be a touch patient with everything else, and enjoy it. I will certainly be back.

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