In a word: ¡Qué rápido! ¡Qué bueno!
The specs: #0313
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; official web site;
JM ate the medium steak burrito with a fountain drink.
Nichole ate 2 small tacos (al pastor and bean & avocado) and an horchata.
The bill was $13, or $6.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave La Bamba an A- (see our grading rubric).
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We expected something quite different from La Bamba than what we got, even though some of us had already been to a La Bamba. What we got was warm service, hot food, and a great price for decent Mexican fast food - equal parts decent, Mexican, and fast. What we expected was somewhat less, and we're glad.
JM didn't go for the burrito as big as his head, but even the medium burrito was baby-head-sized (hat shown for scale). The grilled flour tortilla held steak, beans, lettuce and a very good, hot salsa. The steak was quite tender but still had some body to it.
The beans, on the other hand, were sort of ishy and bland - though light and not too fatty (vegetarians take note, these are lard-free), they were more liquid than one might want. Other than just plain pinto bean taste, they lacked flavor. This was compounded by their sheer volume (beans are a handy filler for any burrito, but this was overkill).
The horchata, while probably from a mix (and it was weird to see it churning away in large bulk container), was good for what it was. It was sweeter and used more vanilla flavor yet fewer spices than the best horchata Nichole's had, but was still passable and added a lot to the authenticity of the experience.
Nichole's tacos were handfuls of lip-burning yummitude. The hot sauce really tied together both the bean & avocado taco and the taco al pastor, which both suffered from blandness underneath. On the al pastor, the pork was chopped small and juicy and held down the lettuce, which tended to want to escape.
The bean & avocado taco was a messier proposition. There must have been half of a huge, perfectly ripe and creamy avocado piled on top of nearly a cup of the aforementioned beans and topped with lettuce and hot sauce, all of which the two corn tortillas and Nichole's hands were no match for. But there's no shame in making a mess when the tacos are all right.
It seems that La Bamba is best described as authentic Mexican fast food (which may not exist in actuality outside real taco trucks and abuelitas' trunks), but it's useful in capturing the idea.