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Truck Stop Korma And Incredible Coastal Mexican

Monday, March 28, 2016

This is what Yelp was made for.


There's a name-/sign-less (well, officially it's 'Taste of India' but I couldn't find a sign anywhere) Indian food restaurant on I-20/59 around Livingston, Alabama that has some of the best Indian food anywhere. It's inside the L and B Travel Center right tucked back off the interstate exit -- and if you didn't know there was anything inside...you'd never know. Except...thanks to Yelp.

Taste of India, Livingston AL

The owner has this travel center and told me he figured that since they had this restaurant space, he might as well try something. Never mind that it's aesthetically, um, confusing, that's not what anyone's here for. 
Taste of India Restaurant, Livingston AL

It's this. The food is crazy good. And the owner was so kind, he even brought over complimentary mango lassi for each of us. We ordered chicken korma, tandoori chicken, another dish of lightly fried chicken that the boys liked along with incredible vegetable biryani, and of course naan.
Taste of India, Livingston AL

Taste of India, Livingston AL

From now on, we are saving our appetites for truck stop Indian in Livingston -- 651 Hwy 28 W.

Also thanks to Yelp (know how people love to hate Yelp but what they're really hating are the ultra-critical and/or poorly written, poorly considered reviews?) we found this fabulous coastal Mexican restaurant in Trussville, Alabama -- La Perla Nayarita (5712 Chalkville Road).

Shorthand for Mexican restaurants is so often chips-and-salsa with standard enchiladas and such on the menu, but at this restaurant, they concentrate on seafood and more tropical flavors. In fact, when you're seated, they bring out not chips, but a corn tortilla piled with ceviche. That's it on the left here:

La Perla Nayarita
Above on the right, the steamed fish Av enjoys, that's served en papillote (foil rather than parchment) and it's like this wonderful surprise when opened because it's covered in shrimp, peppers, mushrooms...

La Perla Nayarita

The interior is just a big open space with flat surfaces, so it gets loud. Loud when they're showing soccer, and louder still when their roaming group of musicians set up right around your table, and bring a speaker with them. Oh yeah. But it's fun.

La Perla Nayarita

One night, Shugie saw a little girl with a giant pineapple drink, and we ordered it too -- a non-alcoholic pina colada.
Pina Colada

I did notice on our last visit that they have a separate menu for people who are looking for tacos and enchiladas and such, but their raison d'etre -- and what the large main menu is made up of -- is serving these great beachy flavors.

This is the Pena en Crema -- a (mostly) hollowed-out pineapple half filled with shrimp, scallops, crab and topped with peppers, mushrooms, and cheese. Whatever the idea is about seafood and cheese being wrong, well, this obliterates all that.
Pina en Crema

Pina en Crema

Without Yelp, we'd probably have never even noticed La Perla Nayarita -- it's in a small shopping center with its only other neighbors -- no kidding -- being a liquor store, a pawn shop, and a tattoo parlor.

I asked one of the managers if there were any other coastal Mexican restaurants we didn't know about ('coastal Mexican' was their descriptor) and the closest ones are in Atlanta, where they know of two.

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