If you get cranky and nervous going more than three days without refried beans and guacamole, Napa's La Morenita is a hearty remedy. A recent short holiday visit to Napa reminded me how important it is to offset that steady intake of wine, gooey and fatty cheese, nuts, fruit, and related gourmet offerings. Those feastly items are great and have their place, but a to-go hook up of still warm and rather juicy chicken, beans, ribs, guac, rice and two kinds of salsa from La Morenita felt more like my every day home in the Mission. The price was right, too: $51.26 ably fed a group of twelve, with extra guac to enjoy later.
La Morenita is an always busy and compact taqueria next to a market of the same name. The market carries meats, cheese, produce, and a bounty of Latin American food products. We bought bags of the house brand of chips for nearly half the price of what you'll pay back in San Francisco. Both businesses are in a strip across the street from Napa high school. Soccer is on the TV, tamarindo and horchata drinks are at the ready, and menudo fixings of chopped onion, lime, and dried herbs are on a styrofoam plate on each table. Our chicken was grilled outside and we watched the cook prepare it. Light smoke in the air was a nice hint at the gobbling to come.
Rancho Gordo's world headquarters are nearby, and founder Steve Sando first introduced me to the La Morenita businesses. Sando says he favors La Morenita for to-go Mexican fare, "When we have parties, especially staff parties, we use them. I think their guac, carnitas and rice are great ... The arbol chile salsa is also very good."
Hot tip: Call ahead if you want tamales, one of La Morenita's most popular items. The parking lot requires attention and patience.
Where: 2434 Jefferson, Napa
Phone: (707) 255-9068
Send hot tips to writereadeat (at) gmail. Follow @mladdfood