Panaderia Tacuari, 150 Fritz Mar Ln.
The four-table dining room is hot and silent. Outside it rains; inside we sweat. There are bottles of water in a small Coke cooler, but I hate to waste plastic. In further self-sabotage, and in total hypocrisy, I drink black coffee out of a styrofoam cup. Hypocrite.
Two cooks work quietly in a kitchen. Shrill blasts from a smoke alarm interrupt their work and nudge our increasingly hungry attitudes toward a cliff.
A customer cranks up a portable air conditioner. It won't help.
We're not off to a good start.
Our tortas arrive - milanesa and tinga - and the toasted loaves and pickled jalapenos elicit only more sweat.
Panaderia Tacuari (@panaderiatacuari) is a work in progress. I get the sense that the owners — service vets with many years running a Sr. Sol outpost — revved the ovens up to get some income flowing before the paint had dried. Open two months, some kinks need working out. Food is not one of them.
Typical panaderia offerings are displayed on a rack behind the counter: concha, ojo de buey, pan de anis, croissants injected with dulce de leche, and doughs wrapped around fruit jams.
But it's the tortas, which change daily, that should attract you out past the Terrapin Brewery to Fritz Mar Lane.
There's no menu, yet, but the milanesa de pollo torta, pictured here, seems to be available daily and is far superior to the other regular sandwich, milanesa asada. The steak is too tough, making for a sloppy experience. Stick to the bird.
Butterflied, breaded and fried chicken breasts come topped with a fried egg, peppers, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and lots of mayo. There's the bun, too, fresh baked then pressed to a crisp on a grill. It'll run you $7, and it's by far the most expensive item available.
Don't worry. I went by three times and now the dining room is twice as big, they put in a big screen TV for sporting events, and there's another A/C unit. CASH ONLY. Call ahead for the day's offerings.
Friends told me not to miss the Uruguayan chorizo torta that's only available on Tuesday. It's fine, mostly just a protein vessel.
I prefer this tinga, which shows up on the "menu" at @panaderiatacuari when it pleases. A rich tomato and pepper sauce coats shredded chicken, then flurries of parmesan, and a flood of melty cheese and mayo.
Only $5, a messy steal. Demand to pay more.
As desperately as I love their tortas, @panaderiatacuari is a bakery at heart, not a restaurant. Sweet offerings from Mexico, Central and South America are on offer, but it's this alfajor, a dollop of dulce de leche between two corn starch cookies, that's more inline with the Uruguayan owners tastes.
I'll admit that after a milanesa torta, this is too indulgent. So bring it, and a ham and cheese empanada, home for later.
Panaderia Tacuari: 150 Fritz Mar Ln. Open Sunday through Friday, 9 to 9. Closed Saturday. (706) 850-8220.