In an attempt to chase down authentic flavors, I often find myself in unfamiliar surroundings. This sense of adventure was keen on a recent visit to Carthage’s El Valle Verde. As patrol cars raced to a nearby holdup, I only had eyes for the ceviche tostadas. Crisp corn tortillas were piled high with pico de gallo, avocado, and lime-tastic bits of white fish, squid, and crab. My dining companions dug into costillas adobadas (grilled pork ribs with nopal cactus), as well as an oversized goblet of cocktel campechano, with ample poached shrimp crammed into a Clamato-heavy gazpacho. A simmering tub of sopa de marisco was enough seafood stew (langoustines, mussels, crab legs, and an entire fish) to feed three. My son happily slurped down delicious, ice cold horchata, a rice and milk beverage sweetened and spiced with Mexican cinnamon, while we grown-ups sipped four-ounce Patrón margaritas. (A second round was duly ordered.) Seafood dishes are the star here—a chicken chimichanga was filled with bland rice and minimal meat; the vegetarian quesadilla was tasteless at best. Guests with dietary issues, high anxiety, and no Spanish may take a pass, but for hardy souls, this taqueria delivers a memorable evening.
El Valle Verde, 6717 Vine St., Carthage, (513) 821-2232. Lunch and dinner seven days.
Originally published in the September 2014 issue