Las Palmas, not your typical Mexican taqueria

09.02.2011 - Banquet Of Life

Las Palmas serves some of the best Mexican food in the NapaValley.  The restaurant is owned and operated by Juan Lopez and his wife Maria who are both natives of Mexico.  You will find Juan hard at work behind the hot stoves of an open kitchen and always with a big smile on his face.  Juan genuinely loves what he does, and it shows.  Maria, who does a bit of everything, makes the tamales and chicken mole from family recipes.

Juan has cooked at many of the Napa Valley’s notable restaurants including Bistro Jeanty, Domaine Chandon and Saketini to name a few.  His deft touch is reflected in the lightness, freshness and quality of the food.  If you don’t see it on the menu ask Juan and he will prepare it if he has the ingredients available.

While perusing the menu you will be served some very good fresh salsa and tortilla chips made at the restaurant.  Then, sit back and  enjoy generous portions of authentic Mexican food made to order – carnitas, carne asada, chile rellenos, chimichangas, fish tacos and much more.  Everything is delightfully fresh and not heavy as Mexican food can often be.

Now for the real story.  My wife and I have now been going to Las Palmasfor about 8 years.  For the first four we ate nothing but the Mexican food because it was so good.  Traditional American meat and seafood dishes listed on a blackboard were also available but were ignored.

One night out of the blue we both decided to order seafood dishes and what a treat!  The seafood was absolutely exceptional.  It was some of the freshest and best prepared seafood we have ever eaten.  Clearly, this presented a problem as to what to order on subsequent visits.  Happily, the predicament was resolved by sharing one of the Mexican dishes as an appetizer followed by the spectacular seafood.  Maybe we’ll try the meat some day.

Some of our favorites are the seven mares soup (full of assorted shellfish and fish – this can be a meal unto itself), black and blue tuna, roasted wild Alaskan halibut, Dungeness crab enchiladas and sweet & sour prawns with roasted scallops – don’t think for one minute that these are the sweet & sour prawns you have had in a Chinese restaurant as this is totally different.  If there are three or four of you consider ordering the seafood tower which has three or four plates full of assorted seafood on a special stand.

This is a local’s place with unpretentious atmosphere and the dress is casual.  The service is very friendly and efficient.  Prices are moderate for the NapaValley. The wine list is minuscule so plan on bringing your own wine unless you want cold beer with your meal.  There is a modest corkage charge.

The restaurant is located off the beaten path about a mile from downtown Napa at 1730 Yajome Street- 707.257.1514.  On Friday nights there is a guitarist who looks like a refugee from Haight Ashbury singing pop songs of the 60′s & 70′s.