Capdevila at La Teresita (commonly referred to as just La Teresita) is a Cuban restaurant in West Tampa that is probably no place for a vegetarian to wind up. The list of foods that are vegetarian friendly could be ticked off using the fingers of just one hand. Let’s see, there was fried yucca, arroz amarillo, papas fritas, platanos fritos and tostones. There are a few variations of yucca and platanos so if I counted those separately then we are looking at two hands. That’s it. But there I was to visit with some former co-workers and celebrate a friend’s birthday. To make the best of this situation I ordered a sack load of side dishes. Namely the fried yucca, tostones and yellow rice. It would certainly be a starch fest, one that I would probably need to chase with a nap.
Fried Yucca has been one of my favorite side dishes ever since I first tasted it at the Lime. They are like a cross between mashed potatoes and french fries with the occasional tough spot. When the Lime removed fried yucca from their menu it basically forced me to stop going there. I spent some time making my own but every once in a while I just wanted someone to make a batch for me. La Teresita provided that. There was nothing outlandish, unique or special about La Teresita’s version. That’s okay. I wasn’t expecting gourmet when they cost about two dollars. The yucca was served with a creamy green sauce. Not sure what it was as their was no description anywhere on their menu. I tasted it, wasn’t bad, just not my thing. Reminded me too much of mayo or sour cream.
Fried Yucca and mystery green sauce.
The next dish I ate was the fried ripe plantains. These were huge, mashed discs that had been fried and served alongside a garlic mojo sauce (at least that is what I think it was as there was again no description). The garlic/oil combo was very strong. I loved it. I wound up dipping not only my tostones but my fried yucca in it as well. I basically drank the stuff when I was done (which caused me to ruin a pair of shorts).
Fried Ripe Plantains and garlic sauce.
My eyes were glazing over and my stomach filling fast with the starch. I channeled my inner Adam Richman in order to attack my third side dish, the yellow rice. I was very pleased to see, when the rice came out, that I was also getting a few green vegetables along with it (I counted ten green peas). I expected a little more taste to flow from the rice. It was pretty bland, not very impressive from a place that I assumed could at least make a decent version of this Cuban specialty.
Yellow Rice with some green peas
These three side dishes cost me under ten dollars, they came out quick and were very filling. That is what La Teresita is good at. Cheap, fast and big. The dishes weren’t gourmet, the ingredients probably came from cans or bags and were anything but fresh but you get what you pay for. I would not return to Capdevila at La Teresita for an entire meal but I could see myself stopping in when I’m in the area to grab a quick side dish (or three). My vegetarian dream would be for a place like this to have a slightly more expensive fresh green salad that could offset all those starchy side dish options. That would make me go out of my way to go here. Considering the quality and price of the other food though, I’m not sure that their salad would fit my vision. I’m not talking brown lettuce leaves. I’m talking this.
I paired this meal with the simplifried sounds of Freedom Fry‘s “Summer in the City.” Freedom Fry is one part French girl (Marie Seyrat) and one part American guy (Bruce Driscoll). The two have come together to make music that is beat driven, organic and breathy.
Also worthy of the Capdevila treatment is Wazu. These guys play modern electro-pop with a twist of dark wave dampness. Think of them as a present day Bauhaus or a more evil sounding Eurythemics. Wazu is prepping for a US tour in August that will focus solely on East Coast venues. Check out “Happy Endings”: