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La Unica, Charlotte. My New Salsa Addiction.

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HungryGrayCat Oct 21, 2008 10:08 AM

My name is HungryGrayCat and I am an addict.

I've been hitting La Unica on Central pretty regularly for the past couple of months. About every 2 weeks I get an insatiable urge for their salsa; the red and the green from the squeeze bottles -- the tomato salsa in the “carafe” is pretty pedestrian.

I’ve tried a few things off the menu but keep coming back to the carne asada tacos with cilantro and onions. Then I douse them with the salsas. The meat is generally very good, flavorful and moist. I wish the tortillas were house made but at least they’re very fresh.

Any other recommendations for good tacos? And especially good chile and/or cilantro-based salsas? Extra points for being relatively close to my job (near the Amtrak station on North Tryon.)

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  1. southernitalian RE: HungryGrayCat Oct 21, 2008 10:57 AM

    La Unica is great but Allende is better! I go to the one on South Tryon, near Westinghouse. I think there's another on North Tryon North of uptown but I do not know if they are related. Their salsas are amazing. Everything on their menu is fresh, cheap and terrific. I have been trying to get a CH to try this place out for years. Kind of off the beaten path but well worth thr trip.

    6 Replies
    1. re: southernitalian
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      HungryGrayCat RE: southernitalian Oct 21, 2008 11:10 AM

      Based on a quick Google search, it seems that the Allendes are related so maybe I'll check the one out on North Tryon next week. What do you recommend there?

      1. re: HungryGrayCat
        southernitalian RE: HungryGrayCat Oct 21, 2008 11:32 AM

        If it's like the other one, they have combo platters where you can try several things at once. Unfortuntately they never put their soft tacos in the combos but you can order them one at a time. I like the beef tacos the best. Their chili relleno is wonderful as is their barbequoa. I don't think any of us have ever not loved what we ordered. Simple, fresh, nothing fancy. Their chips and salsa are really what brings us back over and over.

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        bellyspeaks RE: southernitalian Oct 24, 2008 01:11 PM

        Went to Allende on North Tryon yesterday. Awesome. I've been 100% loyal to La Unica for years. You know, once you find a good thing kinda situation. But I ventured out onto N Tryon yesterday and sampled their al pastor and barbacoa. The al pastor was as good as la unicas and the barbacoa was superior. I wasn't crazy about their salsas, I felt they were pretty standard. I then went up the street to Taq. Guadalajara. Had the same two tacos, good but not great. What was amazing was their salsa roja. It appears to have no tomato product in it whatsoever. Just pure chile de arbol, garlic, oil, vinegar. Amazing flavor, I'd go back just for it.

         
         
        1. re: bellyspeaks
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          friek RE: bellyspeaks Oct 29, 2008 09:44 PM

          I love T. Guadalajara. Its about as authentic mexican as you can get in Charlotte, dirt cheap and the roja - oh my. My Dad and I spent 2 summers hiking Mexico when I was (much) younger. I took him there last year when he came down to visit, he agreed - about as authentic as you can get.

          1. re: friek
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            bellyspeaks RE: friek Oct 30, 2008 04:44 AM

            where did you do your hiking?

            1. re: bellyspeaks
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              friek RE: bellyspeaks Oct 30, 2008 07:09 AM

              The Yucatan peninsula all the way down to the Guatemalan border - we tried to hit as many Mayan ruins as possible. Two of the best summers of my life.

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        bellyspeaks RE: HungryGrayCat Oct 21, 2008 03:02 PM

        La Unica on Central is the original location and I went there for years. La Unica on South Blvd. is even better. Same owners, same menu, better execution. I go for the tacos al pastor. Salsas are excellent. The green avocado-y one is my fave.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bellyspeaks
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          appy3432 RE: bellyspeaks Nov 3, 2008 01:30 PM

          I second the tacos al pastor! I do prefer the Unica style (soft, corn tortillas) to the plain taco. The al pastor (marinated pork) for $1.50 for lunch?!? You just can't beat that. I go with a good amount of the green salsa, a little bit of lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Addictive.

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          pinogirl14 RE: HungryGrayCat Oct 21, 2008 04:21 PM

          If you're in the area, Taqueria Mexico on South Blvd. is def. worth checking out. It's about a block south of La Unica. It's sort of hidden b/ween a check cashing place and a hair salon. I LOVE their green salsa.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pinogirl14
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            bellyspeaks RE: pinogirl14 Oct 21, 2008 05:46 PM

            I'm going there right now. I've had a hankering since i posted earlier tonight. Thanks for the recommendation.

          2. waitress RE: HungryGrayCat Oct 23, 2008 04:46 AM

            I want to try all these! Thanks for the info.. I went to El Paraiso on a whim one day at the Starmount Shopping center, it is just a counter, no seating, but I have eaten in my car three times since that first visit.. I am stuck on the pork tacos, they are spicy with pineapple. If you try the pork make sure you ask for the pineapple one..

            2 Replies
            1. re: waitress
              waitress RE: waitress Oct 23, 2008 04:50 AM

              Photo

              1. re: waitress
                waitress RE: waitress Oct 23, 2008 05:45 AM

                computer says no

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              shallots RE: HungryGrayCat Oct 23, 2008 01:45 PM

              Can anyone compare that green sausa with the heavenly green sauce from Ninfa's in Houston (and a few other cities before the chain shrank back to near original size.)?
              The carne asada tacos sound a bit like Ninta's Tacos al Carbon.

              I ask because a four hour drive to Charlotte is to far, but for Ninfa-like flavors an hour detour could be negotiated.

              2 Replies
              1. re: shallots
                GodfatherofLunch RE: shallots Oct 23, 2008 02:32 PM

                This is not worth an hour detour. It is good but save your time and gas.
                Carne asada tacos are not the same as Tacos al Carbon. Asada refers to the seasoning and
                al carbon refers to cooking over coal.

                1. re: GodfatherofLunch
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                  HungryGrayCat RE: GodfatherofLunch Oct 24, 2008 05:44 AM

                  Agreed. They're good but not worth an hour drive. La Unica is a good lunch spot, not a destination restaurant.

              2. RobiePC RE: HungryGrayCat Oct 29, 2008 07:11 PM

                I live close to La Unica, and stop by there for tacos de lengua a couple times a month with my two young kids, usually on the nights my wife is stuck at work. She does not particularly like the ambiance. The whole family enjoys going to Las Margaritas on Independence. Their salsa is this fairly light version with cabbage, quite delicious and worth the trip by itself. The menu at Las Margaritas is for the most part standard Tex-Mex fair, but they also have, like some Chinese restaurants, a second menu. This menu for the Hispanics is in Spanish, but with helpful pictures. The clientele is usually fairly evenly split between locals and Hispanics, always a good sign.
                My latest taste discovery occurred at small, hole in the wall, tacos joint on Monroe, just past the fish camp place and before McAlpine Creek Park. I think it is called Tacos Mexicos, or something close to that. Their lengua was good, but their tacos de tripa was amazing. I talked with the hombre behind the counter, and he said it is by far their most popular taco. The tripe apparently has to be marinated over night, then cooked just before serving. I think it was one of the best tacos I have ever had north of the border.

                 
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