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At Table
Taj Tamale

By The Clever Cleaver
Question: What do India and Costa Rica have in common? Let’s see … Religion? No. Music? Doubtful. Culture? Probably not. Cuisine? THAT is a definite maybe. 

For the answer to this perplexing eternal mystery of life we need only turn our direction to the general vicinity of higher learning that is found near the corner of University Boulevard and Old Shell Road. I’ll bet you are thinking about the cultural anthropology department at the University of South Alabama, right? Good guess but truly I am talking about Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant.

Los Arcos is a family friendly establishment that has been a part of the Mobile culinary community since I trod the hallowed Jaguar halls which is more years ago than I choose to divulge. 

Current owners Shah and Rocio have re-energized the menu and each has infused elements of their respective homelands. Shah is from India and Rocio is from Costa Rica hence the above referenced title. Rocio was an employee of the former owner and has truly taken the fusion concept to a new level for our area.

A recent visit by the Epicurious Hour staff was simply delightful. An appetizer of Ultimate Guacamole ($6.99) made fresh tableside started the evening (as did the goldfish bowl size margaritas). 

The traditional Mexican menu remains largely unchanged and I can assure you that the Enchiladas Supreme ($7.75 at dinner) were every bit as expected. 

The more adventurous staffers indulged in the fusion menu ordering the Tandoori Taco Platter ($9.99) which is a succulent blend of chicken marinated in Indian spices and then grilled, served as a taco on Indian fried bread, topped with salad and dressed with Indian style Cilantro salsa and served with Indian style potatoes and Costa Rican rice and beans; The Tico Tamale Platter ($9.99), a Costa Rican specialty of Latin corn meal mixed with chicken, potatoes, olives, capers, raisins, garbanzo beans, red sweet peppers, and rice wrapped in a banana leaf and steams accompanied by Costa Rican style rice and beans, freshly fried plantain chips and salad. 

Also sampled was the Cerviche ($9.99) with Plantain Chips which is a Costa Rican seafood dish with orange roughy and fresh gulf shrimp marinated in citric juices, spiced with chili peppers, garlic and onions and served with freshly fried plantain chips.

Servicio you ask? Impeccable! The staff knows many regulars by name, entrée and libation. Rocio also provides colorful insight to the menu and her remembrances of cooking many of the menu items with her grandmother.

The atmosphere is warm and cozy. Large tables can accommodate most any size group. Preparations for a party of 90 were underway during our visit. An outdoor patio also affords guests a change of pace in season and can be reserved for private functions.

Take the advice of Horace Greeley and go west young man (or woman). Only this time deviate a few compass points south then turn east where Asia meets Central America, Los Arcos Mexican restaurant 5556 Old Shell Road Mobile, AL 36608 (251) 345-7484.

(Ward “Cleaver” has been involved with the culinary community in the greater Mobile area for many years. Join him every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. on FM talk 106.5 for Mobile’s only restaurant and food themed radio show - The Epicurious Hour. Have a question or comment? Email
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