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May 25, 2011 05:04 PM

Finally Tried La Bamba in Sparkhill for Lunch Today!

I read about La Bamba , the Mexican Restaurant behind a Latin American Grocery store in Sparkhill on this board, and wanted to try it. I had no idea where Sparkhill was (and I've lived in Rockland County virtually all of my life!) When I looked up the directions and reaalized that my Northvale, NJ office is only minutes away, I went there at lunchtime today.

Sparkhill looked like a "ghost town", in that so many stores were empty! And the center of town is relatively small and quiet. I found the grocery store La Bamba, and from the outside you'd never know that there was a restaurant on the back of the store. I parked at the park across the street which was convenient.

My impression: Don't go here if you like atmosphere. Go for the food. The store was tiny and crowded with all kinds of Latin delicacies, many of which I've never seen, such as toasted slices of bread individually wrapped in plastic, or canned milk made out of all kinds of ingredients including corn. Unusual items to me, but I did note that some ingredients that I've seen listed in recipes, such as certain varieties of dried chiles were hanging in this store. The crowded store was "dingy" and I noticed ants in the front of the store, back aisle.

I walked through swinging half doors and found the restaurant. There are 6 tables for a maximum of 24 people. I looked at the menu, and it was extremely reasonably priced. They had soft flour tacos with traditional filings such as Lengua (tongue) or carne asada (beef) and I want to say these were about $1.50 each. But I decided on a combination plate #3 to go. This was a beef Flauta, a burrito (I asked for bean because beef is standard), and a cheese Enchilada. This came with homemade refried beans which were wonderful, and yellow rice, also good. A tiny dollup of guacamole, which I didn't think tasted that good anyway. Mine is better. Not enough cilantro or onions or citrus? And when I got back to the office, I was surprised that there were no tortilla chips. For $6.50. I would've thought that they'd include a handful of chips but they didn't. Oh, I did ask for some hot sauce on the side, and this was very spicy and good.

I would go again to try those soft tacos. But again, it's definitely not fancy, so don't expect strolling mariachi players or lots of painted murals. Just good homemade style Mexican food.

Now, has anyone been next door to Woody's? Or, how about Relish, which is diagonally across the park from where I parked my car? Such a ghost town has 3 restaurants in such close proximity? I'd like to try Woody's if it's recommended.

La Bamba Grocery
627 Main St, Sparkill, NY

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  1. I work in the area and I'm a regular at La Bamba for lunch. You're right, no atmosphere, but the food is quite good. When I have gotten takeout, sometimes there are chips in there, sometimes not. I guess it depends on who is serving you. I bet they'd give them if you asked.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Shawn

      Thanks Shawn, I'll give them another try. And next time I'll ask the lady to throw in some chips now that I know they sometimes do. Have you tried the soft tacos? If so, which ones are the best?

    2. The tacos are definitely good- lengua and cecina are my general standbys, and I've enjoyed both at La Bamba. It's not a destination place by any means, but reliable if you're in the area.

      Just a few weeks ago my son and I were shopping at the Lowes, and popped in for dinner. We shared the chilaquiles- very enjoyable, the texture was just right with the al-dente quality in the fried tortillas, and lots of queso fresco. The portion was huge as well; too much for us to finish. My son got the enchiladas mole poblano, flavorful and nicely done, another thumbs up. I felt like experimenting so I ordered the enchiladas Vericruzana (seafood), which was, unfortunately, not so good. The flavors didn't mesh well at all, the seafood wasn't fresh, and I got Krab instead of crab. Thems the breaks sometimes, and I guess I should have known the odds wouldn't be in my favor ordering it, but sometimes you just gotta go 'what the hell' and take a chance. In any event, that's a dish that I would recommend avoiding.

      Overall I still like going there when I'm in the area. Plus, I get to do some shopping as well (they carry some nifty spicy chorizo.)

      1 Reply
      1. re: TongoRad

        Thank you Tongo Rad, I'll have to try those tacos and maybe the chilaquiles too, if I can convince my son to come along too! The cheese enchiladas and the bean burrito that I had when I went for lunch were good, but the meat in the flauta was tough, so I won't be ordering he flautas again. And I agree, the store had some really interesting stuff.

      2. In answer to barbgail61's query about the other nearby restaurants, Woody's is good. Kind of eclectic Continental menu, well-executed and fairly priced, although not the kind of place I'd go out of my way to eat at. Relish, once one of the very best restaurants in the area, sadly, is no longer in business.

        5 Replies
        1. re: JRBlack

          Does Woody's have outdoor seating?

          1. re: menton1

            I don't think so, but check with the restaurant to be sure.


            1. re: JRBlack

              Thank you for the info on Woody's. We'll try this over the summer. I'm sorry to hear that Relish is no longer in business, because I recognize the name from discussions, and now that I knew where it was, I was planning on trying it too. Oh well. But we will try Woody's. Thanks again for all the info.

              1. re: barbgail61

                I also can recommend Woody's. Woody runs the front and his wife Deb does all of the cooking. She's a great chef. I've never ordered anything I didn't care for when there. The mussels were super. The burgers were the only thing I think they can improve upon.
                I've heard that the owner of the wine shop in Tappan, plans to open a restaurant in the space previously occupied by Relish.

                1. re: michele cindy

                  Thanks Michele. It's been a month and I've still not tried Woody's, but hey, the summer only just began! I did check the online menu which sounded good. Now I just have to convince either my husband or a coworker to go with me.

        2. What's with that new restaurant in Sparkill (Coppola's?) on the old Tony's Lobster space? Very peculiar building, looks like office space rather than a restaurant... (At least they left that 400 year-old tree).