La Unica

21 Jun

La UnicaAbout a month ago we decided to make a conscious effort to eat at some of the restaurants in the IT. Then we promptly drove to Charlotte to dine out for several weeks. Not cool.

Seriously. Why is it so hard to commit to doing this?

Fear not, reader. We finally made progress on our list of local restaurants.  On a recent Friday night, we didn’t have any dinner plans or any reasonable excuses not to stay in Indian Trail for dinner. So we decided to go to La Unica.

Let me paint you a picture of a typical Friday evening for us – we rush home from work around 5:00, throw on a change of clothes, and then hop into the car to crawl 20 miles up Independence Blvd. to Charlotte for dinner.  We’ve gotten really good at making a speedy transition from work to weekend, and can usually get to almost anywhere in Charlotte for dinner and drinks by 6:00 or 6:30.  You’re impressed, right?

Well this particular Friday was no exception. Except we weren’t hauling ourselves up to Charlotte.  Nope, La Unica is less than a mile and a half from our house, but we rushed home, changed clothes, and jumped into the car like we always do.  We got to La Unica at roughly 5:30; way too early to eat.

It’s fortunate we misjudged how long it would take us to get there, because this place gets packed rather quickly.  In fact, that’s one of the biggest reasons we don’t eat here more often (I know, first-world-problem, right?) Another reason we don’t come here all the time?  When we arrive way too early to eat we like to order drinks.  That doesn’t happen here – there are no alcohol sales.

Thankfully, despite how packed it gets in this relatively small space, we’ve never had to wait long to get a table.  On this night, we barely paused when walking in the front door before we were directed to a booth.  Within a minute or so, a server swooped in with two mini-carafes of salsa and some housemade chips.

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Oh chunky salsa…it burns so good…

Jason asked if they had green salsa, and they promptly brought out a carafe of something bright green and peppery.

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We asked the server what was in it. He responded “jalepenos…and other stuff.”

Now the food here is good.  Very very good.  And it tastes pretty authentic (based on our one trip to Mexico for our honeymoon 8 years ago).  Service is efficient, food is fresh, there’s Mexican music playing on the radio, a beautiful mural of a tropical mountain scene…

You’re almost tempted to forget you’re at a restaurant in a strip-mall on the side of Old Monroe Road.

Then you see the hand-painted sign on the wall that says, “if you’re smoking, you’d better be on fire.”

Wait. What?  Restaurants have been smokefree in NC for 3 years.

Not sure if it’s supposed to be quaint or if there’s another story behind it, but the hand-painted witticisms posted in restaurants is all too popular around the IT.  Another reason to trek to Charlotte to eat.

But all that aside, you can have a pretty enjoyable time here if you just focus on the food.  And once you start eating, there’s very little reason to focus on anything else.

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2 Responses to “La Unica”

  1. mark weber June 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Damn…all this looks sooooo good!!

    • Jason June 25, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      Mark….it is great. You should come visit Charlotte!

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