Continuing on without trepidation, or the slightest consideration for each other’s feelings, we join Elizabeth Campbell and Kyle Fortenberry as they embark upon their sophomore column — this time reviewing a staple in Jacksonville’s culinary scene: La Nopalera. Sitting below brightly colored streamers and an unrelenting onslaught of Corona advertisements, it’s nearly impossible for one not to be drawn into the festive atmosphere, where it seems that every day is Cinco de Mayo. Fortunately for Kyle — whose birthday just so happens to fall on the fifth of May – this is a most auspicious occurrence, and a flimsy excuse for him to knock back copious amounts of tequila. God help us all.
EC: Ah … La Nop. Remember in high school, when we would come here all the time and … what’s wrong?
KF: It’s La NopALERA …
EC: Whatever. Anyway, the chips and “GUAC” are here now, so –
KF: Guac? Guac?! What, is it now too great a burden to use any word exceeding two syllables? Should we simply shorten everything to make is easier to say? Would it help if I simp ord like this? Ex me! I would like the veg fajs and two tacs, please! There, El, is that bet? Waiter, three shots of tequila for the gentleman who wishes to mourn the death of the English language. Swift and Whitman are turning over in their graves.
EC: Ignoring Kyle’s rant about language or something, I scan the menu and decide on Combination Dinner No. 16: A burrito, enchilada, rice and beans (and to clarify for those who aren’t fluent in Ridiculous Nonsense Kyle Speak, he ordered the vegetarian fajitas and two tacos). Yum … burritos are my FAV.
KF: See! Seeeeeeeee! This incessant abbreviation is turning into a veritable epidemic! Oh waiter, two more shots for this poor, sad advocate for a once rich and beautiful language. Twain, Faulkner and Blake, I drink for you!
EC: Wow, you’re really upset about this. Why don’t you take it easy? Your food will be here in a SEC.
KF: Confound it, woman! More shots! One for Kipling! One for O’Hara! One for Hemingw-
EC: – And Hemingway takes down yet another poor soul. Seeing that Kyle has had a little too much of the sauce and is now writhing on the floor because he fancies himself a sea creature of sorts, I’ll take over his part of the review. I think I know him well enough to accurately capture his voice.
KF: Cheerio! What a SPLENDID idea to patron this lovely establishment on such a marvelous evening!
EC: Why, thank you Kyle. Are you enjoying your vegetarian fajitas?
KF: They are most delicious! My goodness, I MUST watch my figure — this generous portion could easily feed two! And for such an impressively low price! And these decorations! How magnificently whimsical! What a fabulous choice, Elizabeth! I heartily apologize for sneering at your suggestion to dine here. How completely and utterly selfish I am. Can you ever forgive me for being such a prissy little girl?
EC: Of course I can, Kyle. Once again, La Nopalera exceeds expectations. Burritos, enchiladas, tacos, chalupas and tostadas — there are several combinations of each for well under $10. A number of vegetarian options are also available, and the lunch menu (from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., Monday through Saturday) is even more affordable. Add all that to the bottomless complimentary chips and salsa and the guy who can balance eight hot plates on one arm, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a dining experience.
(Located at Beach and San Pablo. For more locations and a full menu, go to http://lanopalerajax.com)