I have to admit I had reservations about trying a Mexican lunch buffet. Crusty refried beans and soggy tacos sitting in a steam table is not my idea of an enjoyable meal.
Fortunately, La Tradicion Tortilleria knows how to pull off a good buffet with delicious Mexican dishes.
La Tradicion is a small joint at North Broadway and 16th Street that’s both a tortilla-making facility and a restaurant. While a menu of typical Mexican fare is available, the main attraction is the buffet that is offered daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For just under $8, diners can get their fill of traditional dishes from south of the border.
During our visit, the buffet offerings included posole, shredded chipotle chicken, lengua (beef tongue) in a chili verde sauce, pork with a red chili and a green chili sauce, a scrambled egg and green bean concoction (ejotes con huevos), cheese enchiladas, and the ubiquitous rice and beans. A salsa bar and fresh tortillas rounded out the spread.
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Since most of the dishes were based with chili sauces or broths, they were well suited to being held on a steam table, so my fears of soggy tacos were for naught.
Of the dishes we tried, there was not a weak link among them. The lengua in chili verde and the pork in red chili sauce were my top two picks. I have had lengua at several places around town, and this was the best so far. All of the pork chunks were tender and lean, while the chili sauce was rich and warm. You can’t go wrong taking spoonfuls of these dishes and wrapping them in warm flour tortillas.
We’d never had green beans with eggs before but were quickly won over by the simple yet tasty dish. My wife, who is an enchilada guru, approved of La Tradicion’s cheesy rendition.
The only complaint we had with the buffet was that some items were slow to be replenished, including the salsa, chips and tortillas. With an hour left in the buffet, I would have expected additional food to still be coming out. There was only one hard-working and friendly waitress running the dining room, so that may have contributed to the problem. I would recommend going closer to noon to ensure a fully stocked buffet.